06 February 2007

Serbian Heritage in Kosovo still controversal for Kosovo Albanian Institutions

KIM Info, December 02, 2006

KIM Info Service, Decani, November 25, 2006
By Fr. Sava Janjic, KIM Info Service
Monuments of Kosovo - Kosovo Ministry of Culture brochure published in 2005 which does not even mention the Serbs. The publication has
been withdrawn due to international protests, but never officially denied by Kosovo's Ministry of Culture

Following recent reactions to the website www.visitkosova.org in the Belgrade daily "Politika" and on the pages of the KIM Info Service (newsletter dated November 21, 2006, this problematic site was immediately taken off-line, allegedly for upgrade. According to information obtained by the KIM Info Service at least two diplomatic representative offices in Pristina responded sharply through UNMIK because of attempts under the auspices of Kosovo provisional institutions to promote a new history of Kosovo that does not even mention the Serbs or Serbian Orthodox holy shrines as native cultural heritage that has existed here for many centuries. At the same time, the Kosovo Ministry of Culture, which publicly distributed identical material a year ago in the UNESCO building in Paris (Monuments of Kosova - Spomenici Kosova), provoking sharp protests from the Serbian side, issued a press release.

In this press release, dated November 23, 2006, which we are enclosing in its entirety at the end of today's newsletter, the Kosovo Ministry of Culture claims that the website of the Kosovo Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and its Section for Tourism, i.e. www.visitkosova.org , which includes material regarding cultural heritage "does not include the complete cultural heritage of Kosovo, and especially of the Orthodox (Christian) religious heritage". The Ministry of Culture nevertheless avoids admitting the fact that the Orthodox religious heritage has not been merely omitted from the controversial website (although it has obviously been marginalized) but actually renamed as the Kosovar-Byzantine heritage. This same press release itself makes no mention of Serbian Orthodox heritage even though, for example, the Contact Group in its ten principles for resolving the future status of Kosovo quite explicitly refers to "the cultural and religious heritage of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo" for which a special status needs to be defined (see quotation).

"The settlement of Kosovo's status should include specific safeguards for the protection of the cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo. This should include provisions specifying the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church's institutions and sites and other patrimony in Kosovo." (Guiding Principles of the Contact Group - October 7, 2006, Principle 5)

From this incident it is clear that Kosovo provisional institutions have a serious problem with officially recognizing the very existence of the Serbian spiritual and cultural heritage in Kosovo. The root of the problem lies in the increasingly apparent desire of extremist Albanian circles to carry out the Kosovarization of the entire cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija, which ultimately means its comprehensive Albanization since the political identity of post-war Kosovo has been reduced exclusively to the identity of the majority, i.e. Albanian community. If we take into account that only one year later, the same controversial material is again being promoted, allegedly without the knowledge of UNMIK representatives, it is difficult to believe that this is just a coincidence or irresponsibility on the part of a few individuals, as the Ministry of Culture claims.

Another pamphlet issued by Kosovo institutions which states that there is no Islamic fundamentalism in Kosovo but only Orthodox Christian fundamentalism

According to the still valid UN Security Council Resolution 1244 Kosovo and Metohija region is a part of Serbia under the administration of the UN and is inhabited by Kosovo Albanians, Kosovo Serbs and other communities. Calling all citizens "Kosovars" and describing the cultural heritage as "Kosovar" inevitably leads to the denial of the cultural identity of the Orthodox Serbs and the assimilation of the legacy of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which would finally be completely alienated from the Serbian people. It is for this very reason that the Contact Group emphasized the need for "specifying the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church's institutions and sites and other patrimony in Kosovo".

This principle clearly demonstrates the fact that the Serbian spiritual and cultural heritage cannot simply be reduced to the level of the spontaneously proclaimed "Kosovar cultural heritage", although it is territorially located in the region of Kosovo and although culturally it belongs to not just all the residents of Kosovo but to humanity as a whole.

On several occasions during negotiations on cultural heritage in Vienna representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church have emphasized that we can only talk about "cultural heritage in Kosovo", which consists of a number of different cultural and spiritual legacies, which have their own specific character and historical continuity, certainly not about "Kosovo cultural heritage". Such terminology is not used by the Contact Group and we hope that it will be used by Martti Ahtisaari when he finally presents his package of proposals for the status of the Province and measures for the protection of the Serbian cultural heritage.

Unfortunately, we can see a similar example of the assimilation of Serbian medieval cultural heritage and revision of history in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where a significant part of the Orthodox cultural legacy left by Serbian medieval rulers has been completely Macedonized and forever torn from the rest of the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Serbian people. Similar attempts can also be seen on the territory of Montenegro where a separate Montenegrin or "Dioclean (Dukljan)" identity is being promoted to the detriment of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In an aggressive attempt to build up their own new political identities, newly created states in the Balkans which do not have a separate historical continuity are grabbing the cultural heritage of Serbia for themselves and already presenting it to the world in such a way that it loses all historical and spiritual ties with the Serbian people, who created and protected it for many centuries. In fact, the sole remaining protector of the identity of this legacy in these territories remains the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is exposed to pressure and aggressive behavior by political authorities and pseudo-historians with increasing frequency.

The acknowledgement of the existence of an independent Serbian spiritual and cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija within the context of a politically and ethnically pluralistic society will be a serious test for Kosovo institutions and the degree of their (in-)sincerity in building the democracy and multiethnicity upon which the international community is insisting, at least verbally. On the Serbian side there is the serious responsibility of not allowing any sort of attempt to politicize the cultural heritage because this can only make the position of the Church and the protection of centuries-old holy shrines more difficult, and ultimately the survival of the Serbs as a people in this region.



In order to better acquaint the readers of the KIM Info Service with the methods of Kosovarization, i.e. Albanization of Serbian cultural heritage and revision of history in Kosovo and Metohija, we suggest two brochures in the English language that bear the official seal of Kosovo provisional institutions and which the Kosovo Ministry of Culture and the Kosovo Government have never officially renounced. Orthodox legacy is certainly mentioned but only in a context that directly or indirectly denies the Serbian spiritual and cultural identity, and the existence of the Serbian people in general. Despite the fact that international representatives of UNMIK responsible for controlling the work of Kosovo institutions have hidden them well, these documents serve as the most obvious indicators of the true intentions of Kosovo institutions and a rationale for defining status and the protection of Serbian heritage at a level and in such a way as to prevent such historical obfuscations from ever entering the science of history.

1. Monuments of Kosova, Prishtina 2005

http://www.kosovo.net/images/mkks/monuments_kosova.pdf  (1.5 MB)

2. Religion and Kosova's Cultural Monuments

http://www.kosovo.net/images/mkks/rel_kosova.pdf  (1 MB)


Communiqué of the Kosovo Ministry of Culture regarding the website
www. visitkosova.org

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports

Press release

November 23, 2006, Pristina

Recently the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, specifically the Section for Tourism, launched the website www.visitkosova.org which presents material on the cultural heritage of Kosovo. This website did not include the complete cultural heritage of Kosovo, especially not of the Orthodox (Christian) religious heritage. The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and Non-Resident Issues is not the author of this material on cultural heritage and in the future we will insist that the website be enhanced and enriched with a broader, more comprehensive cultural heritage of Kosovo, to be prepared by experts of the Section for Cultural Heritage operating under the auspices of our Ministry.

Note: Press release translated from Serbian