New provocations in Kosovo on feast of Pentecost

Kosovo and Metohija, June 23, 2021

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Serbian Orthodox faithful were again the target of provocations and discrimination in Kosovo. In particular, believers from Serbia were recently prevented from visiting holy sites and participating in feast day celebrations in Kosovo, reports the Diocese of Raška and Prizren of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The new incidents come just days after a church in Priština was vandalized following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on the feast of the Ascension there.

On Sunday, June 14, a group of believers were prevented from entering Kosovo, and on June 19, a bus with pilgrims from the village of Mušutište was initially allowed to cross the administrative boundary but was then ordered to leave Kosovo without any valid explanation.

Thus, the pilgrims were prevented from visiting Orthodox sites to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. They had hoped to visit the ruins of Holy Trinity Monastery, which was destroyed after the war in the summer of 1999. Kosovo Albanians have been preventing access to the site in recent years, and this year the Liturgy had to be canceled as no one was allowed to attend.

The diocese writes:

This last amid a series of incidents demonstrates an increased level of violation of fundamental religious rights, freedom of religion and the freedom of movement, on the basis of ethnic and religious affiliation, which is contradictory not only with Kosovo laws but also with all international standards of religious rights and freedoms. Priština institutions with such a behavior demonstrate open ethnic and religious discrimination which has, due to other incidents caused a serious aggravation of relations between our Diocese and Kosovo institutions as well as the cessation of all contacts until the full rule of law and observance of court rulings are established.

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Kosovo law specifically guarantees that there will be no arbitrary banning of entrance to Kosovo for visitors of churches and monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the diocese notes. The Church is particularly concerned at the lack of international reaction to such blatant violations on the part of Kosovo authorities, and calls on all international representatives to do what they can to make Kosovo authorities respect their own laws.

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