Kosovo, August 14, 2020
The hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity of the Serbian Orthodox Church routinely face persecution from the authorities of the Muslim-dominated Kosovo.
Most recently, the local Kosovar authorities in Dečani, with the support of the authorities in Priština, have restarted intensive construction work on a highway within the Visoki Dečani Monastery's Special Protective Zone, despite a law specifically forbidding such construction.
The construction of a Dečani-Plav highway through the Monastery’s Protective Zone is also condemned by international representatives in Kosovo, reports the Diocese of Raška and Prizren of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
There have been many illegal attempts to destroy the Protective Zone’s integrity in the past, but now construction of the highway is openly underway, with no attempt to hide the long-term danger to the monastery. Neither the monastery nor the Commission for Protective Zones were informed of the resumption of the construction work, the diocese reports.
Meanwhile, construction on a bypass that avoids passing through the monastery’s zone was previously begun, but has been left unfinished.
Heavy machinery is currently operating within the territory of the monastery’s Protective Zone, significantly widening the road, turning it into a category 1 highway. The previously-existing retaining wall has been removed.
“Due to the shaking of the ground caused by the large number of heavy construction vehicles passing by each day, damage to the 14th century church itself and monastery buildings is already possible,” the diocesan report states.
The diocese and the monastery “condemn this flagrant and audacious violation of the law, which damages one of the most important UNESCO sites in this region of the Balkans.”
The diocese intends to contact all relevant international representatives in Priština to bring an end to the construction on the highway that endangers the ancient monastery.
Meanwhile, His Grace Bishop Toeodosije of Raška and Prizren was stopped and harassed by Kosovoar customs guards on his way to Gračanica Monastery, because he was transporting two buckets of honey as a gift, reports KoSSev.
“This was the first time in 20 years that someone has turned me back at the crossing. I did not expect that. I was alone in the car. I was traveling from central Serbia to the Gračanica Monastery, and I was bringing two buckets in the car as a gift for the sisterhood,” His Grace told the outlet.
Bp. Teodosije was forced to return to Serbia and leave the gift behind in order to return to his diocese in Kosovo. He was searched both times at the border and was subjected to unpleasant behavior by the on-duty customs chief.
A similar situation happened 20 days ago with a priest who was attempting to bring a small package from central Serbia to the Church in Kosovo.