Diocese of Raška and Prizren on protesters against the St. Savior church who request its demolition
On the occasion of several recent protest and a hysterical media campaign against the Serbian Orthodox church of Christ the Savior in Kosovo Albanian media, the Diocese of Raška and Prizren is publishing a following PRESS RELEASE.
COMMUNIQUE OF THE DIOCESE OF RAŠKA AND PRIZREN
We are witnessing today one more protest by an ultra-right group of Kosovo Albanians against the Serbian Orthodox church of Christ the Savior in Priština downtown. The protesters request the church to be demolished or turned into an 'Albanian museum'. This protest is only one in series of actions directed against the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija which have been in the course of the last 17 years exposed to systematic ethnic terror in which 200.000 Serbs have been expelled, 150 churches demolished and hundreds of cemeteries vandalized. The protest is held with a clear intention to distract public attention from the work of the International Crime Court which is going to try members of the KLA (war time Kosovo militia) for numerous crimes against Serbs and other non-Albanians, for none of which anyone has been brought to justice so far.
For ultra-right group protesting this church is allegedly a symbol of war suffering although no one at this place has ever been hurt and only weapons ever used here was the explosive planted by Kosovo Albanian extremists in summer 1999 to demolish the church. The demolition failed as the church still stands proudly witnessing the faith in Christ the Savior. For Orthodox Serbs the church is primarily a religious Christian site in construction which has no connection with any political agenda and which was constructed according to all procedures according to which all other buildings at that time were constructed in Kosovo and Metohija. The beginning of the construction of the church in 1990 was approved by the President of the Municipal Executive Council of Priština, a Kosovo Albanian himself (now a professor of international law). Therefore, a deliberate manipulation with information spread by Kosovo ultra-nationalists and some media is aiming to have this church demolished as the last remaining symbol of Orthodox Christian presence in the center of Priština, in a same way as they have demolished or expelled everything associated with Serbs in this and many other Kosovo cities.
Today Priština is an ethnically cleansed city and a shame for those who perpetrated this injustice and those who allowed it to happen. The ethnic cleansing was perpetrated by systematic ethnic terror from the end of the armed conflict in summer 1999 and the culmination of the vandalism should be the demolition of the church of Christ the Savior. Its shining cross on the dome obviously disturbs the consciousness of those who want to turn Kosovo in a Taliban-like society of hatred and intolerance. Extremists who advocate demolition of this church or its confiscation from the Church which constructed it, call in fact for the continuation of the ethnic cleansing and new acts of hatred and violence against Serbs with denial of fundamental religious rights to the Serbian Orthodox people.
Will Kosovo society by demolition or confiscation of this church continue along the path of ethnic cleansing and vandalism of Christian symbols or it will finally show tolerance and readiness to respect fundamental civilizational norms that exist in the cultured world? This thoroughly depends from Kosovo political leaders who have turned the blind eye so far to all appeals of our Church and have rejected to provide adequate police protection for the site. Keeping silent in the time when one should responsibly speak up is a sign of tacit approval, which only encourages ethnic and religious extremism.
Serbian Orthodox Church which is in possession of legal cadastral land records for the parcel on which the church was built and an owner of the church will never accept its demolition or changing of its purpose by force. This can be only a Christian church and those who cannot accept it must be aware that by demolition or continual vandalism they only send to the world a picture of what Kosovo is today. That is why the church of Christ the Savior must be completed and as all religious sites in the world serve as a place of worship. Those who want to spread hatred can do that elsewhere but should not forget that by extremism they poison their own future and lives.
Prizren-Gračanica 26. September 2016.