Serbian Church Protests Banned Event at Contested Church in Kosovo

View of the Serbian Orthodox Church at Pristina University campus. Photo: Denis Sllovinja/BIRN

The Diocese of Raska- Prizren, which covers Kosovo, said the ban was made without any legal basis, "continuing serious violations of the religious rights and freedoms of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo".

The diocese said that several days before the feast, it had informed Kosovo Police about the planned ceremony at the cathedral in Pristina on May 24, for the purposes of securing the gathering and organizing vehicle parking.

"On Wednesday, May 23, the our parish in Pristina was informally, and only verbally, informed by the Kosovo Police that the Serbian Orthodox Church was prohibited from serving the Ascension Day liturgy in our Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Pristina," the statement said.

"Our priest was verbally informed that the Kosovo authorities are banning the performance of religious ceremonies in our cathedral in Pristina 'as long as the lawsuit brought by the University of Pristina against the Diocese of Raška-Prizren continues,' as well as due to alleged and unspecified security reasons. No written decision was handed to the priest," it added.

Kosovo Police did not answer BIRN's request for a comment by the time of publication.

The unfinished church, whose construction began in the mid-1990s, when Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to consolidate Serbian control over what was then the Serbian province of Kosovo, has been subject of heated debates for two decades.

In September 2017, the Kosovo Appeals Court granted the Serbian Church rights to the land, which was once part of the University of Pristina campus, rejecting an appeal submitted by the university.

The university disputes the Serbian Church's...

Continue reading on: