Page 838 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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august 14, 2002
after the decision of the Municipal Court at Dečani to seize the land of the Visoki Dečani Monastery—more pre- cisely the land which was returned to this Monastery by a decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia made in 1997—the Federal Secretariat for Religious affairs issues the following:
The decision of the Municipal Court at Dečani cancel- ling the decision of the Government of the Republic of Ser- bia made in 1997 by which the property nationalised in 1946 was to be returned to the Visoki Dečani Monastery repre- sents a striking example of legal violence before the very eyes of the international community which does nothing to stop decisions like this one, decisions which clearly send the message to all the displaced persons that they have no right to return, and to the remaining Serbs and Montene- grins that there is no peaceful life for them in Kosovo and Metohija wherefore they should move out, since neither personal nor property safety is guaranteed to them.
This decision reminds us of the past, which we thought never to come back, when the communists confiscated property of the Church and of people without any legal basis, and later on forbade the ones who fled Kosovo and Metohija under pressure to come back. irony is even great- er since everything happens in the presence of UN Mis- sion which advocates the establishment of legal order and the return of displaced and persecuted people from Koso- vo and Metohija.
We appeal to all the relevant international organisa- tions, and especially to UNMiK, to cancel this absurd and illegal decision of the Municipal Court at Dečani, which only produced additional negative tensions among nation- al and religious communities, tensions that can destabilise the entire region, which is surely not the aim of benevolent people who want to establish peace and tolerance in Koso- vo and Metohija.
august 16, 2002
Federal Government expressed deep concern due to a recent decision made by the Municipality Court in Dečane to cancel the decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia brought in 1997 by which a part of the land— which had been nationalised in the past—was to be re- turned to the Dečane Monastery in Kosovo. Federal Gov- ernment stated that the decision of the Municipal Court was “illegal” and that it represented a “repressive measure toward the remaining Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija and toward their property and shrines,” the Federal Secretariat for informing stated.
The Government also stated that the decision of the Municipal Court in Dečane was “directly opposite to the
Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council” and expressed deep concern for the fact that UNMiK did not react to that “illegal act that can produce long-term material and politi- cal consequences for finding the solution to the current situation in Kosovo and Metohija.” By the decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia of 1997 two tracts of land of 23.45 ha nationalised in 1946 (the total amount of nationalised land was 800 ha) were to be returned to the Monastery of Visoki Dečani.
august 16, 2002
His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle addressed a letter today to the Lieutenant General Marcel Velentin, Com- mander of KFOR and to Mr Michael Steiner, Special en- voy of the UN Secretary General for Kosovo and Metohija and asked them to undertake all the necessary measures falling within their scope of authorisations to stop the theft and taking out of icons, service books and other very valu- able church/art objects from Kosovo and Metohija. Part of the letter reads:
“With regret do We remind You that as of june 13, 1999 when the international forces had entered Kosovo and Me- tohija till the day when You undertook this responsible du- ty, albanian terrorists destroyed more than 120 Orthodox churches, many of which date from the Middle ages and belong to the world cultural heritage.
although such destructive attacks still happen, for ex- ample the St. elijah Church in the village of Smace near Prizren was for the second time destroyed by explosive, they are somewhat rarer than in the first months of KFOR and UNMiK administration. Right now some other kind of danger is hovering over church valuables. More precise- ly, We were informed that valuable icons, church vessels, service books and other valuable church/art objects could recently be found on the black market of antiquities and art objects in several european countries. One German soldier has already been given a sentence in his country, although a suspended one, for taking a valuable icon and some other valuables from the Cathedral in Prizren and trying to sell them. a similar event occurred in Greece, where the police arrested smugglers who transferred from albania into Greece service books dating from the 19th cen- tury and carvings and icons originating from the 18th cen- tury, as well as some other objects previously stolen in Ko- sovo and Metohija. Slovenian police arrested several alba- nians who brought dozens of icons into that country with the aim to sell them.
experience shows that suchlike cases are only “the tip oftheiceberg,”meaningthatfromtheareawherethereare no Serbian priests or people—since there are no condi- tions for a normal and safe life—many more church/art objects have been taken away then what people think.

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