OSCE Mission report says most Orthodox graveyards in Kosovo in poor condition
Municipalities in Kosovo, who are responsible for maintaining Orthodox graveyards, tend to do so on an ad hoc basis and only rarely, says the OSCE Mission report published in Prishtine/Pristina on 26 October, 2011.
“Respecting the dead shows our respect for the living. People must feel that they can pay respects to their deceased relatives, friends and ancestors and be free to exercise their religious and cultural freedom. This is also an important aspect of human rights, which is part of the OSCE Mission’s mandate,” said Ambassador Werner Almhofer, the Head of the OSCE Mission. “The purpose of this report is to help Kosovo institutions, as well as international and civil society organizations to better understand and, where necessary, improve the conditions of the graveyards.”
“Kosovo Serbs have voiced their concern regarding poor state of many Orthodox graveyards,” he said. “Actions to improve it would encourage and facilitate inter-community dialogue and reconciliation and help create better conditions for return.”
According to the report, many Orthodox graveyards are in poor condition as the result of widespread desecration of religious sites in the aftermath of the 1999 conflict and the 2004 March riots. Graveyards in areas where Kosovo Serbs have not returned are in a particularly poor state.
The report contains a photo catalogue recording the state of 392 Orthodox graveyards in Kosovo and provides recommendations on how to improve their condition and maintenance. It specifically calls upon municipalities to allocate funds for the maintenance of the graveyards and to engage in more consultation with the Kosovo Serb community and the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The report is available at http://www.osce.org/kosovo/84399