14 April 2009

Serbs in Kosovo Not Allowed to Worship In Reconstructed Churches?

April 14, 2009.

Source: Diocese of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija

The Diocese of Ras-Prizren On the reconstruction of holy sites in accordance with the Memorandum

Reconstruction under the Memorandum gives no legal rights

participating factors

In the pogrom which the Albanians carried out against the Serbian people and Serbian cultural patrimony on March 17 and 18, 2004 Serbian Orthodox sites, churches and monasteries owned by the Diocese of Ras-Prizren were either damaged or destroyed at thirty four separate locations all over Kosovo and Metohija.

In 2005, in accordance with the Memorandum of understanding, signed by the Patriarch of Serbia and so-called the Minister of Culture from Prishtina, the process of reconstruction of these holy places began and is still in progress.

In view of the fact that, as foreseen by the Memorandum, a number of heterogeneous factors are participating in this reconstruction, that the sources of financing are also heterogeneous and that the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church has accepted several of the sites as completed, the Diocese of Ras-Prizren finds it imperative to make the following facts known to the public.

All the sites included in the process of reconstruction according to the Memorandum were so included without the permission of the Diocese of Ras-Prizren, which is the rightful owner of said sites.

Work on the reconstruction of the Episcopal Palace in Prizren, done without the permission of the Diocese, rightful owner of the sites, has permanently prevented all investors in the reconstruction of the structure from exercising their right to use the sites or any part thereof. All other entities engaged in reconstruction pursuant to the Memorandum are equally prevented from exercising said rights.

The reconstruction of said sites, carried out without the permission of the Diocese, cannot be used by financiers, or other entities engaged in reconstruction according to the Memorandum, as the basis for entering these sites, or any part thereof, in any court register or any property/land register in regard to the funds invested by them for purposes of said reconstruction.

Since the day of the signing of the Memorandum, the fact presented above, namely that reconstruction work was being done without the permission of the rightful owner of the sites together with the implications thereof, has been repeatedly brought to the notice of church and state institutions, as well as institutions of the international community.

A commission appointed by Bishop Artemije in February 2009 has inspected the holy places, which the Holy Synod of Bishops had accepted on September 15, 2008 as reconstructed, and has subimtted a detailed report on them.

Press Department of the Diocese of Ras-Prizren