Tuesday, 18 October 2005

UNMIK and Serbian Orthodox community protection

Soren Jessen-Peterson, Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for and head of the United Nations Mission In Kosovo (UNMIK), has told the Prishtine municipal authorities that they cannot use or change the Cathedral Church of Christ the Saviour without the permission of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

On the 12th of July 2005, local archaeologists told me that the church, which is next to the university, was "in the wrong place" and its construction "just political", but they also classed it as "heritage" and the attacks upon it, too, as "just political"; the Institute did say that the church was "protected" so that "now no wrong can be done to it".

(Unless they were referring to the barbed wire barring entry) I presume that there was, until now, an agreement behind-the-scenes, which has now been made public and concrete. If it were the latter, I believe that it would have been made public and concrete to deter those who want to convert the church into a secular building.

Soren Jessen-Peterson has asked the municipal authorities to "abandon the practice of monoethnic decision-making" and reminded them that "the protection of religious and cultural property is a part of his mandate", UNMIK spokesperson Neeraj Singh said.

The cultural heritage of all communities must be preserved as it represents and contributes to the achievement of multicultural society. As Serbs and Albanians used to celebrate festivals together, as Orthodox Christians and Muslims used to guard each others' sites and as there are Muslim Serbs and Orthodox Albanians, the cultural heritage that is a product of this multicultural history is particularly important in remembering a past and envisioning a future, multiethnic Kosovo. If multiethnic government and society is not made a meaningful reality, Kosovo will become still more violent.

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