A group of students from Pristina University, set in the Kosovar capital, have demanded that a Slobodan Milošević-era Serbian Orthodox church on campus be demolished or repurposed to become student facilities.
“As this building was built in the time of Milošević‘s regime, right in the courtyard of the university campus, we express our deep indignation about why nothing has yet been done by the Republic of Kosovo to destroy that building, or turning it into a type of building that will serve the students of the University of Pristina ‘Hasan Pristina’ for their studies, such as a library,” said a letter by students to the local media on Friday.
The students’ protest was prompted by upcoming construction work on the church, the preparations for which began on Thursday.
“We believe that this construction only started to raise inter-ethnic tensions, therefore we have not taken any action yet, but if it continues in the coming days, we will react as Kosovo’s Albanians students always have done, with various [protest] actions and student protests,” the students’ letter cautioned, stressing that they stand against the “degradation” of the University, rather than against any particular religion.
Representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo had started to clean the church on Thursday following a recent attack on the building, but were halted in their work by the Pristina municipality’s inspection office, due to an alleged lack of a proper permit.
Construction of the church at Pristina University began in the mid-1990s, during the era of Slobodan Milošević and his efforts to consolidate Serbian control over the (then) province of Kosovo. Since the war for independence in Kosovo ended in 1999, the church has lain in an unfinished state.
Source: Balkan Insight