Why does the Kosovo government not respond to Quint's warnings regarding the return of land to the Decani Monastery?

Manastir Visoki Dečani
Source: Kosovo Online

And on the seventh anniversary, since the decision of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo confirmed the ownership of the Visoki Decani Monastery over 24 hectares of land, representatives of the Quint and the European Union once again called on the Government of Kosovo to urgently put it into practice, but these words did not find any echo this time either. The question arises as to how it is possible for the Kosovo government to be so "deaf" to calls to fulfill the obligation arising from the decision of the highest legal body in Kosovo.

According to the interviewee of Kosovo Online, "this kind of play is expected" because Pristina has the tacit consent of its mentors to do their own thing, and they see the silence of the authorities as a consequence of internal political circumstances and the awareness that the issue of Decani generally opens up the issue of property of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Commenting on the fact that every year we have a "reminder" from the West that the judgment has not been implemented, but that despite this nothing happens, journalist and writer, Zivojin Rakocevic tells Kosovo Online that the paradox we live in is - the weakest should buy and pay for what others took from them by force.

"It is clear to everyone, including the international community, that the disputed entry into the cadastre of a part of Decani land is only the beginning of the process in which the Serbian Orthodox Church must obtain and preserve its private property. Those 24 hectares represent another 780 hectares of Visoki Decani, 850 hectares of Patriarchate of Pec, hundreds and hundreds of hectares of Devic, Gracanica, Saint Demetrius..." Rakocevic says.

He adds that there are three parallel worlds in Kosovo - international, Albanian, and Serbian.

"The international and Albanian reality believe that Kosovo will become independent if the Serbs and their identity are immersed in the "Kosovo state project". There are slight differences between the international community and the Albanians on how to form a 'state nation'. Foreigners in Pristina often look like a community that serves to give money and ideological advice. They see Kosovo as their immature democratic child, and no one thought of saying, 'No visas until the land is returned to Visoki Decani,'" Rakocevic points out.

Retired diplomat Vladislav Jovanovic tells Kosovo Online that the announcements in which the Quint calls on Pristina to do something or warns Pristina are "playthings", because as he vividly says - if a parent does not want to pull his child by the ear or punish him, but only talks, that means that there is an agreement - I will talk, and you do your own thing, for that, you have my tacit consent.

"They want to affirm Kosovo as a truly independent state that they cannot directly influence, and they allow them to demonstrate their independence. It is part of the same job," Jovanovic says.

Let us remind you that a court case was fought over the monastery land for 16 years until the decision of the Constitutional Court in 2016 confirmed that the disputed 24 hectares belong to the people of Visoki Decani.

In the meantime, as an additional problem, the Kosovo Government's decision to build the Decani-Plav road, through a special protected zone near the Visoki Decani Monastery, where it is prohibited by law, was grafted on. Construction began in 2014 and has been stopped and continued on several occasions.

Analyst Dusan Janjic says that this issue also has an impact on the process of returning the land to the Visoki Decani Monastery.

"Pristina is silent about the return of the land for internal political reasons, because all this time the greatest resistance was not given by the Government of Kosovo, but by the municipality of Decani, which had its own representatives in the Government, like Haradinaj, and had influence on the Government. The municipality is not asking formally and legally but is asking factually, and with the municipality, there is also a problem with the route of the new road that is being built above the monastery, which is under the jurisdiction of the central government and financed by the EU," Janjic says.

He also believes that the question of land registration for the monastery opens the topic of the Special Law on the position of the SOC, that is, the question of the position and status of the SOC.

"I think that here the Government will try to buy time to solve the delicate issue concerning 200-300 Albanian families who built apartments or houses on that land so that it will be part of the package regarding the Special Law on the position of the SOC. It suits Pristina that it is linked to the recent agreement from Brussels on the road to normalization, that is, to paragraph 2, item 7 of that agreement," Janjic says.

As he points out, the question is what will be entered into the cadastre, because, as he believes, the houses that were built near the monastery and the cemetery cannot be demolished, so there remains the possibility of compensation with some other land.

The Visoki Decani Monastery itself recently announced that the firm determination of the Kosovo government and the municipality of Decani not to implement the decision of the Constitutional Court from 2016, and to even call it illegal, despite all international requests to implement the decision, was in complete contradiction to the government's statement in Pristina to guarantee the protection of the assets of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo.

"Furthermore, such behavior towards the Visoki Decani Monastery represents a serious discouragement to all those who believe that court decisions protecting property rights should be implemented and compromises the rule of law in Kosovo. At the same time, this attitude discourages Kosovo Serbs and other citizens from freely exercising their rights to protect their property through the legal system in Kosovo and has a negative impact on religious and ethnic relations in Kosovo and Metohija," the Visoki Decani Monastery concluded.

Visoki Decani Monastery is on the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage in danger, as are Gracanica, the Patriarchate of Pec, and the Church of the Virgin of Ljevis.