Situation at Serb monastery peaceful after protest

DEČANI -- Life at the Visoki Dečani Serb Orthodox monastery is back to normal following Friday's Albanian protest, head of the monastery Sava Janjić has said.

A view of the Visoki Dečani monastery (file)
A view of the Visoki Dečani monastery (file)

Janjić told Tanjug that the monks "are used to the hatred and constant threats which have been coming at them for the past 13 years."

"They threaten us because we exist here and because we are what we are. All of their truths that they want a peaceful cohabitation with the monastery cannot be substantiated," said Janjić.

On Friday ethnic Albanians protested calling for a reversal of the Supreme Court of Kosovo ruling which confirmed the monastery's rights over its land. The monastery gates were closed on account of threats from municipal leaders and extremists, and access to the monastery was blocked by the police and KFOR, including Italian carabinieri.

Janjić recalled that Visoki Dečani had come under armed attack four times in recent years - it was fired at with mortars and a man-portable missile. The Self-Determination Movement supporters organized demonstrations several times, while Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans made threats when a protective wall was built around the monastery.

"Dečani municipal president said the protests will continue until the decision of their own Supreme Court is overturned. The big question is whether the Supreme Court will be forced to change its position under pressure from the street," said Janjić.

He recalled that the implementation of the Law on Velika Hoča, adopted by the Kosovo parliament as a condition for Kosovo's EU integration, was being blocked.

“Not a single Serb family lives in Dečani today and all Serb property has been stolen or destroyed, all Serb cemeteries are completely destroyed except in the vicinity of the monastery, where tombstones have been broken but not completely destroyed,” he stressed.