21 March 2007

Arabian consortium planning factory next to Decani Monastery

KiM Info Newsletter 22-12-06

Arab money for a factory near Decani Monastery
KIM Info-service, Decani, December 22, 2006

After the news on continuation of illegal construction in the vicinity of Decani Monastery no concrete actions have been taken by the municipality yet. In fact the monastery has been officially informed that the Municipality is planning another "project" in the area within few hundred meters from the monastery with money from the United Arab Emirates. A UAE consortium is planning to open a factory of mineral water although no industrial activities in the area of the monastery are allowed by executive order of the UNMIK administration. Representatives of the monastery rejected a meeting with municipal authorities and Arab investors on this issue yesterday because such a request is considered a most blatant provocation.

At the same time the monastery has learned that the local Kosovo Police Service failed to react against the illegal construction because the owner of the illegally built restaurant has a brother who works in the local police. "The Decani area is like a feudal medieval society and everything functions on the basis of family links and the power of weapons. Institutions are just a facade behind which lawlessness rules," confirmed Fr. Sava. "At the same time the illegal restaurant is a known hangout for the local mafia, and no one dares stop the illegal activities. Black jeeps with darkened windows are regularly passing near the monastery and no one knows where they are heading," said Fr. Sava, expressing serious concern that institutional arrangements for protection of Christian sites in Kosovo would hardly work in the existing security situation. "To implement such an arrangement one needs stable institutions and the basic rule of law. Here, you can achieve something only making deals with criminal structures, which is equivalent to legalizing their criminal racket," concluded Fr. Sava.

Besides the already built illegal restaurant and the planned Arab factory near the monastery, there are several other pending projects which would turn the area around the UNESCO World Cultural heritage site into an industrial area, completely blocking monastic life and destroying the monastery environment. Albanian businessman and naturalized U.S. citizen Florin Krasniqi is pushing very strongly for the building of a new hydropower station with a dam and an artificial lake. Despite the very clear restrictions, his engineers have been seen in the area of the monastery taking photos and preparing documentation for the project. Florin Krasniqi is known to the general public as one of most important weapons smugglers both during and after the Kosovo war. In the documentary "The Brooklyn Connection" Krasniqi openly boasted of importing sophisticated anti-aircraft guns to Kosovo despite KFOR checkpoints.

International police sources suspect that extremist circles are already accumulating illegal weapons in the Decani mountains using the existing mountain road which leads to a part of Montenegro inhabited by ethnic Albanians and further on to lawless northern Albania. Various economic projects and the development of tourism are seen as just a handy cover.

Decani Monastery has been attacked three times after the war in 1999 by mortar grenades. In February and June 2000 extremists from the former KLA fired several grenades at the monastery compound. In March 2004 a mortar attack in which 7 grenades landed 50 meters from the church was stopped after direct intervention by NATO headquarters in Naples and high diplomatic circles. Last year the head of the local KLA veterans openly threatened the monastery and Italian KFOR, and in April 2006 the same group staged protests demanding that KFOR protection for the monastery be lifted.