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Serbian Orthodox Church Abandons Commission For Reconstruction Of Monasteries In Kosovo
Danas, Belgrade, Serbia, Serbia-Montenegro, September 16, 2004
Raska-Prizren Eparchy [Bishopric] announced yesterday that it had rejected the Memorandum About Agreed General Principles for Reconstruction of Churches, signed with UNMiK on June 28, 2004, within the framework of the initiative of the Council of Europe for the reconstruction of Serbian Orthodox sacred sites in Kosovo and Metohija destroyed and damaged in the March pogrom. Thereby, the press statement emphasizes, stops "the work of the international commission formed on the basis of the memorandum, whose task was to manage the reconstruction of destroyed churches and monasteries based on the recommendations of the Council of Europe." Raska-Prizren bishop Artemije (Radosavljevic) has informed UNMiK about this decision.
The statement emphasizes that "the commission has so far failed to initiate work on even a single building; it has failed to invest even a single penny in the reconstruction of churches and monasteries; and in its work it has abandoned recommendations of three missions of the Council of Europe regarding the type and volume of envisaged work". Thus, the eparchy believes, "its further existence is pointless".
Prizren-Raska Eparchy has also expressed its concern in connection with "the establishment, on September 10, in Paris, of the Independent International Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Kosovo, by representatives of the Council of Europe, European Commission and UNMiK". "This commission was set up without consultations with and participation of Serb representatives and Serbian state authorities. It represents a dangerous and unacceptable trend of ignoring and minimizing the role of Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church in the protection of its own cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. This cultural heritage cannot be merged into some ‘Kosovo', ‘religious', or ‘Byzantine' cultural heritage. It is and will remain Serb and Eastern Orthodox cultural heritage," emphasizes the statement from Gracanica.
Reconstruction of Zociste Monastery Begins
After several years of negotiating with UNMiK, KFOR, and the local Albanian population, Raska-Prizren Eparchy yesterday began reconstruction of the mediaeval monastery Zociste near Orahovac, in Metohija. The monastery was blown up in June 1999. The reconstruction of Zociste, as well as Holy Archangels and Devic monasteries, both burnt in the March pogrom, will be carried out by the bishopric center "Rade Neimar" ["Rade the toiler"], in agreement with the Institute for Protection of Cultural Heritage of Serbia. As was yesterday announced by the Eparchy, monks will live in containers until the completion of buildings by November.
Translated on September 21, 2004