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Kosovo violence is a threat to Europe's historic heritage

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A group of European conservationists has warned that the recent violence in Kosovo is threatening some of the continent's most important historic buildings.

Europa Nostra - the federation of non-governmental organisations for the protection of cultural heritage - has launched a campaign against 'the largescale and deliberate destruction of invaluable cultural heritage' in the area.

The group claims that, between 17 and 19 March, more than 30 Serb Orthodox churches and monasteries were destroyed or damaged, including the 14th-century Church of the Mother of God of Ljevis in Prizren and the 15th-century Monastery of Devic .

Europa Nostra's president, the Prince Consort of Denmark, has written to NATO to highlight the problem, calling for the existing peacekeeping force to 'intensify its commitment to preventing further attacks on heritage in Kosovo'.

'The cultural heritage in Kosovo has an inestimable value, ' the Prince said. 'I would solemnly remind everyone that Europe's monuments and landscapes are our common heritage. We are collectively responsible for them - not only for present and future generations, but also on behalf of those who have bequeathed them to us.

'We particularly appeal to the large majority of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, and to the large majority of Serbs, who - we feel certain - respect the religious and cultural heritage of the other group, to raise their voice and to do their utmost to prevent further destructions, ' he added.

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