Local mayor Bashkim Ramosaj, an ally of Mr Haradinaj, resisted the return of land to the monastery, challenging a 2016 decision by the Constitutional Court of Kosovo that the territory claimed by Father Sava must be returned. The mayor, who declined to be interviewed, told local media he would rather go to jail than obey the decision and cede the territory.
The land, 60 acres of farmland and forest outside the monastery walls, belonged to the church until 1946 when it was seized by the Socialist government of Yugoslavia.
In the 1990s, the remnants of a crumbling Yugoslav state returned the land following the rise to power of Slobodan Milosevic, an atheist Communist official who had metamorphosed into a champion of Serbian nationalism and the Church. Serbian Orthodox.
While the ethnic Albanians who took refuge in the monastery during the war quietly support the monks, the abbot said, their political leaders often view the land dispute “as a continuation of their war against Serbia, as if we were of Milosevic’s proxies, which we are not. “
The decision of the court which upheld the monastery’s land claim, he added, “was not a decision of Milosevic but a decision of the highest court in Kosovo”.
Efforts to implement the court’s ruling increasingly infuriated the United States, which sent fighter jets to attack Milosevic’s troops in Kosovo in 1999 and broke its hold on the territory. .
The case of the monastery on its land, Philip S. Kosnett, the American ambassador, warned in a recent statement, “It’s not about ethnicity, politics or religion; it is about property rights and respect for the law. “