Twenty icons stolen from churches of North Macedonia to be returned from Albania on Friday


Dec 14, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas


Albania is set to return a total of 20 icons stolen from Slavic churches to North Macedonia on Friday, as part of a cooperation agreement signed by the two countries in 2022.


The team working on the project confirmed the report for MIA, further details will be announced once the icons enter the country.

 “For the first time in the history of our country, a successful restitution of cultural heritage is being carried out thanks to the good cooperation between the governments and the culture ministries of North Macedonia and Albania,” said the Ministry of Culture.


According to Culture Minister Bisera Kostadinovska-Stojchevska, the icons will be transported to the Museum of North Macedonia, where they will be exhibited, and then returned to the Slav-Macedonian Orthodox Church.


The procedure for the restitution of the icons began in 2013, with intensive activities over the last two years.


In the period between 2009 and 2013 there was a wave of forced entries into churches, especially in the western and southwestern parts of North Macedonia, during which hundreds of icons were taken away.


The icons were accidentally spotted by Macedonian experts in 2013, in a video with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama that aired on Albanian TV.


In a symbolic move, Prime Minister Rama handed over one of the stolen icons to the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovachevski, during the signing of the agreement for their restitution in 2022 in Skopje.


The completion of the process for the restitution of the 20 stolen icons is expected to be followed by a new process for the restitution of an additional set of identified icons in Albania.