17 September 2006

Kostunica: Hilandar Monastary asserts Kosovo-Metohija Part of Serbia According to God's and the laws of man that adhere to God's Justice

Hilandar most appropriate place to reiterate that Kosovo is heart of Serbia
Hilandar, Sept 17, 2006 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said today during his visit to Hilandar monastery that there is no better place than Hilandar to reiterate that Kosovo-Metohija is the heart of Serbia.
“It is because of what Kosovo-Metohija has meant throughout our history that Hilandar is today the most appropriate place for us to feel the truth in the words that Kosovo-Metohija is the very heart of Serbia and the soul of the Serbian people”, said the Prime Minister.He said that Serbia knows how to guard and cherish its values and Hilandar is one of the most beautiful pearls the Serbian people possess.Just as there is not a single Serb who does not know what Kosovo represents to Serbia, there is also no Serb ignorant of what Hilandar means to Serbia, he stressed.According to Kostunica, Hilandar is also the most appropriate place to reiterate and reconfirm that something that belongs to Serbia cannot belong to somebody else and in line with the law – both man’s and God’s – Kosovo will remain a part of Serbia.He reiterated that Serbia abides by justice and therefore claims the right to Kosovo which is why the province cannot be severed or seized from it and Serbia and its authorities will preserve Kosovo without resorting to forceful means.“It is our will, our mission to preserve what is ours and to keep building and the best example of this is Hilandar – we have preserved it, we will reconstruct it and the same goes for all that belongs to us, like Kosovo does”, stressed Kostunica.He explained that he also visited the monastery to see for himself what has been done to repair the damage and what can be done in the future, adding that the state will keep setting aside €1 million a year for the monastery’s reconstruction.The Serbian Prime Minister visited Hilandar together with Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral Amfilohije, academicians Matija Beckovic and Vladeta Jerotic and ministers of interior and capital investment, Dragan Jocic and Velimir Ilic respectively.Head of the monastery Father Metodije welcomed the Prime Minister and said that Kostunica is interested not only in the physical reconstruction of the monastery, but the spiritual as well.Chief architect Mirko Kovacevic said that according to his estimates, the reconstruction of the monastery will cost between €15 and €20 million and that it will take up to 6-7 years to complete.According to Kovacevic, on the outside the monastery will look the same as before the fire. This year the Sinodik dormitory stretching over 800 square metres and dating back from 1814 was reconstructed. The works will now be performed on a 2,000 square metre dormitory dating from 1821.
This is Kostunica’s fifth visit to the monastery which is on UNESCO’s list of Cultural Heritage. He visited the monastery immediately after the fire on May 26, 2004. Last November Kostunica also visited the monastery on the last day of his official visit to Greece. The monastery’s patrons and builders were St. Simeon and St. Sava Nemanjic.Kostunica’s first visit to Hilandar took place in 1986. He visited it again as the President of Yugoslavia in 2000.The Hilandar monastery, over eight centuries old, was badly damaged in the fire in 2004 when more than half of its facilities were destroyed. Among them were three dormitories, one dating from 1640 and the other two from the 1820s.Immediately after the fire, the Serbian government decided to set aside €1.5 million a year in the course of the following nine years and thus collect €10 million for the monastery’s reconstruction.