The statement of a British MP, Alicia Kearns, in which she accused the Serbian Orthodox Church of allegedly participating in weapons smuggling from Serbia to the territory of Kosovo in ambulances, triggered an avalanche of reactions on social networks, in Kosovo media, as well as from some regional and Serbian media. Late last night, the Diocese of Raska-Prizren reacted, saying that this is a dangerous accusation that criminalizes the Serbian Orthodox Church. Moreover, they underlined that it is also used by certain Kosovo media to incite religious and ethnic hatred, thus posing a direct threat to SOC clergy, monks, and religious sites. They requested an urgent verification of the MP’s allegations, as well as the reaction of KFOR, and announced measures regarding two possible outcomes: either the most severe penalty of church officials in the case KFOR confirms their involvement, or a demand that this MP publicly apologize.
Member of Parliament Alicia Kearns shared a series of criticisms at the latest session of the British Parliament against official Belgrade and Serbs from the north, while on the other hand defending Pristina.
Kearns also claimed that Serbia is to blame for the new crisis. Speaking about the incidents in the north of Kosovo and the conflict with KFOR in May in Zvecan, she said that it was „a brutal attack by a Belgrade-backed, funded and armed militia“.
In addition, she made accusations against the Serbian Orthodox Church, claiming that it participates in arms smuggling.
“…The Government is well aware, with the Fusiliers having only just returned from serving in KFOR, that there are weapons being smuggled across the border from Serbia into Orthodox churches in ambulances. When our troops become aware of that, and try to get permission to go and get them, the permissions take too long. By the time there is permission—quelle surprise—an ambulance has turned up at the church and taken all the weapons out again.”
The statement of this MP was immediately transmitted by Pristina media, as well as by users on social networks, primarily ethnic Albanians, who tagged European and US officials, as well as mediators in the dialogue.
Expiring utmost gratitude to @AliciaKearns for her unwavering dedication & insightful contribution during today’s Kosovo debate in Westminster Hall.
Thank you for your steadfast commitment! 🇬🇧 🙏 🇽🇰 pic.twitter.com/iErGmgckue
— Ilir Kapiti (@IlirKapiti) July 4, 2023
Some Albanian portals, primarily GeoPost, reported the news with a video clip and the claim that it confirms the MP’s allegations about arms smuggling.
They emphasize that the footage was recorded on the 6th of December of last year, when the premises of the Municipal Election Commission in North Mitrovica were attacked.
They even state that in this particular case, the „arms smuggling mission“ was carried out by the recently arrested Serb M.M., whom the Pristina authorities claim is one of the leaders of Civil Protection, which was recently declared a terrorist organization by the Kosovo government, together with Northern Brigade.
They emphasize that at that time M.M. and other members of the Civil Protection were communicating with the people in the ambulance, which contained weapons.
(the video, however, does not show either the church or the clergy)
Diocese: Dangerous accusation, allegations to be urgently verified
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren reacted late last night with a statement, expressing deep concern over the statement made by the British Member of Parliament.
They say that it represents a highly dangerous accusation that criminalizes the Serbian Orthodox Church and is already being exploited by some Kosovan media with “the intention of inciting religious and ethnic hatred“.
Furthermore, they underlined that these allegations also pose a direct threat to the clergy.
The Diocese insisted that the allegations by Ms. Kearns be urgently verified and for KFOR to disclose to the public whether they can confirm the allegations of the UK Member of Parliament.
“It is impossible that UK soldiers in KFOR have this information and not communicate it to their superiors in the KFOR command.
KoSSev reached out to KFOR last night regarding the allegations of the British MP, that is, about their knowledge regarding the alleged arms smuggling.
” If these claims prove to be true, the Diocese added, any Church officials found to be involved in the alleged misuse of SOC premises and church service for transportation or storage of weapons will face the “most severe church penalties” and will not be able to continue their public service.
However, if KFOR cannot confirm the truth of these claims, the Raska-Prizren Diocese will seek a public apology from the aforementioned Member of Parliament through the British embassy in Pristina, due to her “inflammatory and inaccurate allegations which have serious consequences.”
“The Raska-Prizren Diocese (SOC) does not want the allegations of Ms. Alicia Kearns about the SOC in Kosovo and Metohija to remain at the level of slander and become a tool for imposing collective guilt on our Church. Therefore, these allegations must be verified as soon as possible, and those potentially responsible for any criminal acts or the dissemination of false information must be identified. The public must be informed.”
They emphasized that such accusations constitute an “act of spreading religious intolerance” and a “direct call for violence” against our Church – “which has been subjected to physical attacks, various slanders, and other forms of discrimination in Kosovo and Metohija for years”.
“The Raska-Prizren Diocese (SOC) has clearly opposed any form of violence through its actions and statements over the past thirty years, both before and after the armed conflict in Kosovo and Metohija. Violence is contrary to the fundamental Gospel principles and the Church’s mission. Therefore, we wish to handle this matter with full seriousness and responsibility,” the Diocese underlined.
Alicia Kearns met with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in London on Monday.
Kosovo is worth protecting, she said at the time, noting that they discussed with Kurti how to de-escalate tensions, about the return of “abducted” policemen, support to „Kosovo Serb communities“, and „the Belgrade backed militia“. Her speech about Kosovo focused on these topics, with the exception of support for the Serbs.
Kosovo is worth protecting.
We must stand by our partners, & it was very productive to meet with Prime Minister @albinkurti this morning to discuss:
– How to de-escalate tensions
– Return of abducted Kosovar police
– Support to Kosovo Serb communities
– Belgrade backed Militia pic.twitter.com/xJvnNeAdyT
— Alicia Kearns MP (@aliciakearns) June 26, 2023
Preuzimanje i objavljivanje tekstova sa portala KoSSev nije dozvoljeno bez navođenja izvora. Hvala na poštovanju etike novinarske profesije.