FM: Don't reward Pristina for destruction of heritage
Ivica Dacic addressed a UN gathering in New York on Sunday and spoke about the destruction of monuments of cultural and historical heritage in KosovoSource: Beta, Tanjug
He asked that "Kosovo not be rewarded for such activity" by allowing Pristina to join UNESCO.
Speaking during a gathering dubbed "Protecting cultural heritage - an imperative for humanity," the Serbian foreign minister said that "vandalism toward cultural monuments cannot be tolerated in any way."
But unfortunately, added Dacic, there has been increasingly more present destruction of the heritage of other cultures, with "the most valuable monuments from human history in the world today becoming the target of extremists."
The condemnation of these attacks carries with it one message - "protecting cultural heritage is an imperative for humanity," Dacic said, citing the name of the meeting he was addressing, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
"We are united in this mission, together we must act with all available means to raise awareness about the importance of the cultural heritage of each individual human and humanity," Dacic said.
He pointed out that Serbia has faced acts of vandalism "since 1999" in Kosovo as part of its territory which, according to UN Security Council Resolution 1244, is under UN administration.
"In the area of Kosovo and Metohija 236 churches, monasteries and other buildings owned by the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as cultural and historical monuments, have been the target of attacks," Dacic said, adding that of these 61 have the status of cultural monuments, and 18 are of exceptional importance for the state of Serbia.
He said that 174 religious sites and 33 cultural and historical monuments have been destroyed in Kosovo, and more than 10,000 icons, ecclesiastical art and liturgical objects stolen, and pointed out that "particularly worrisome is that graffiti in praise of Islamic State and the future Caliphate have been sprayed on protected monuments of culture, precisely at a time when the international community is investing so much effort to counter this evil. "
"Proceeding from the primary role of UNESCO, as an organization whose goal and purpose is the promotion and protection of the cultural heritage of the humankind, the Republic of Serbia is conducting a diplomatic struggle so that acts of deliberate, systematic and vandal destruction of cultural and historical heritage in Kosovo and Metohija are not rewarded by Kosovo's membership in UNESCO," said Dacic.
The Serbian foreign minister is a member of the delegation, led by President Tomislav Nikolic, participating in the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, and accompanying conferences.
"A tough diplomatic battle in UNESCO is ahead of Serbia to prevent the admission of Kosovo to the international organization," Ivica Dacic has been quoted as saying earlier in the day.
Dacic on Sunday evening took part in a meeting of foreign ministers of member countries of UNESCO, and told Serbia's state broadcaster RTS that he informed them about the difficult situation concerning the Serb cultural heritage in Kosovo.
"I particularly pointed out the danger that our cultural heritage in Kosovo is in, presented the facts, pointed out there are four structures in Kosovo under the protection of UNESCO. Of course, apart from this physical destruction, I pointed out to the fact that almost all of them have been sprayed with the graffiti of Islamic State, against which the whole world is currently fighting," said Dacic.
The minister "admitted that a tough diplomatic battle is ahead to prevent the admission of Kosovo to UNESCO."
"Most countries realize how complicated this issue is, however, their states have made a decision to recognize the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo, so that we will have a tough battle in the Executive Board and the General Conference of UNESCO which are scheduled for October and November this year," he added.
"Serbia is pointing out that putting these issues on the agenda before they have been discussed in the dialogue conducted in Brussels is counterproductive and would represent a difficulty in our future dialogue," said the minister.
Dacic also said that "everything possible is being done to point out to the harmful effects of such decisions and the politicization of UNESCO."
"Will we succeed? Sometimes it does not matter whether you are right, but what the numbers are. Currently they are not on our side, but we are pointing out that we are talking about a specific approach to religious and cultural heritage, its destruction, and that it makes no difference whether that is done by Islamic State or anyone else, including in Kosovo," Dacic said.
Dacic will on Tuesday and Wednesday as an envoy of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic attend meetings devoted to "peacekeeping operations in the world and the fight against terrorism" organized by U.S. President Barack Obama.