Reaction of Minister Çeku on the decision of Europa Nostra
We were deeply concerned to hear the Europa Nostra had decided to enlist the Decani Monastery among 7 most endangered sites in Europe for 2021.
When this organization had decided to nominate the Monastery in the list of the most endangered sites, the President and the Prime Minister of Kosovo sent a letter to Europa Nostra listing arguments why this Monastery should not be included in this list, since it did not fulfill the basic preconditions to be considered endangered.
It is an independent and professional assessment of the relevant law enforcement agencies that the Orthodox churches in Kosovo enjoy a high level of security and are not endangered. With the declaration of independence, the Republic of Kosovo has approved all constitutional, legal, institutional and political guarantees for the protection and advancement of the rights of all non-majority communities in our country.
The Republic of Kosovo is fully committed to the protection of all assets of the country's cultural heritage, in particular Orthodox churches and monasteries, Orthodox clergy, religious practitioners and non-majority communities.
The sites included in the Europa Nostra list are indeed in danger as they are in risk of being demolished due to various factors. The only exception in this case is the Decani Monastery which – in the very justification of Europa Nostra – is described as a functional cult object, in good condition, where daily liturgies take place, where the community performs their ceremonies while being open to the pilgrims.
The only alleged concern regarding the Decani Monastery is said to be an unbuilt road for which Europa Nostra itself finds that an agreement has been reached between all parties, including the Orthodox clergy.
The language used in the nomination text is inaccurate, biased and unacceptable. Designations such as "local extremists" represent a deliberate exaggeration, the alleged attack by the terrorist organization "ISIS" is unfounded. Hence, this leads us to believe that the nominee did not follow the professional line of argument but deviated to a content with political charges and completely unfounded sources.
Both in the text of the nomination and in the final announcement, among other things, the status of the state of Kosovo is prejudiced, and an attempt is made to link the issue of the Monastery with the political dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Both of these claims are incorrect and are in line with the political position of the state of Serbia. Kosovo has a defined status, and declared its independence on February 17, 2008. This unanimous declaration of the will of the people of Kosovo through its elected representatives was confirmed by the International Court of Justice in July 2010. On the other hand, the connection between the issue of Monastery and the political dialogue is unstable, and should be rejected as all guarantees for cultural heritage deriving from the Ahtisaari Plan are included in the Constitution and legislation of the Republic of Kosovo and this issue should not be reopened.
The justification of this organization clearly discloses its bias when it takes references entirely from Serbian historiography in cases where it mentions the internal characteristics of the building, while Kosovo is mentioned with a footnote! This approach of Europa Nostra is unprofessional, unrealistic, one-sided, and with a clear political impact.
The decision to include the Decani Monastery in the list of 7 most endangered sites is not based on sound logic, since the very reasoning of the decision contradicts the arguments related to the danger that is allegedly posed to the site. This fact can also be drawn from the photos published by Europa Nostra on its official website.
The institutions of the Republic of Kosovo are treating this issue with full commitment. We are holding internal consultations, as well as with our international allies to determine the next steps to address this problem, which we will undertake in the coming days.
The Republic of Kosovo is the highest instance of protection of cultural heritage assets in the country. We protect our heritage. Our heritage is universal. It belongs to all humanity, it belongs to past, present and future generations.