"Escalation of situation" not ruled out over monastery land

Ahead of a protest announced for Thursday over the return of land to Visoki Decani, the nearby town's mayor is not ruling out "an escalation of the situation."

Source: B92
(Getty Images, file)
(Getty Images, file)

The Kosovo Constitutional Court last week ruled in favor of this medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery, after years of dispute.

Decani Mayor Rasim Selmanaj on Tuesday told media in Kosovo that it was "known who is responsible for keeping the peace," but added that his position meant he "has to defend the rights of citizens - and it is not in their interest for the land to be given to the monastery."

"The problem is also that the court is legitimizing a decision of Slobodan Milosevic, the court should not have interfered. I expect the land to be returned to the municipality of Decani or to its citizens," said Selmanaj.

He also stressed that authorities in Decani "always tried to establish good relations with the monastery" but that the court's decision "goes against friendly relations."

"I don't know how they will use this land when 60,000 residents are against the decision that the monastery can use it. It's a problem that unites citizens, regardless of which party they belong to," the mayor said.

Selmanaj also took to Facebook to invite people to join the announced demonstration, claiming that the court's decision to confirm Visoki Decani's ownership over the 24 hectares of land in question was "unjust, and made under political influence."

An extraordinary session of the municipality's assembly has been scheduled for Wednesday, and will be followed by a protest.

The 24 hectares which local ethnic Albanians wish to appropriate were first returned to the monastery by a Serbian government decision in 1997.

Media in Pristina are reporting that due to the opposition of local authorities and the Albanian community to the recent Kosovo Constitutional Court decision, KFOR had stepped up the security it provides to the monastery.

Politics

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