Kosovo demands Dečani Monastery be removed from list of endangered sites

Pristina, Kosovo, May 20, 2021

Photo: decani.org Photo: decani.org     

Kosovo officials are calling upon Europa Nostra to remove Visoki Dečani Monastery from its list of the seven most endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe, saying the Serbian Orthodox site was added under political pressure, and that its inclusion in the list hurts the image of Kosovo.

In their letter to Europa Nostra executive director Herman Parzinger, Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora and the Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports express grave concern about decision, claiming it’s “unfair and was made under political influence,” reports Pravoslavie.ru.

“We are certain that this decision is unjustified, because it doesn’t correspond to the facts on the ground,” the Ministers write. To prove their case, they even invited Parzinger to come to Kosovo and get acquainted with the state of the monastery.

“The damage to the reputation of Kosovo caused by this unjustified decision must be compensated immediately,” their letter reads.

Europa Nostra’s list caused an outcry among Kosovo political and public figures, who began to make angry accusations against the monastery and its abbot Archimandrite Sava (Janjić), even accusing him of war crimes, “as Kosovar politicians like to do to neutralize an undesirable political opponent from among the local Serbs,” writes Pravoslavie.ru.

The Ministers argue that Kosovo authorities are actually fighting to protect all cultural heritage sites, especially Orthodox churches, monasteries, clergy, and believers.

However, the facts prove otherwise, says Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Seljaković.

“This is especially evidenced by the expropriation of 24 hectares of monastery land, the construction of a highway near the monastery in defiance of a court decision, armed attacks, terrorist graffiti on the walls of the monastery, and verbal threats to the brethren,” the Serbian Minister emphasized.

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