“Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Serbia and as such is defined in the Serbian Constitution and in the UN Security Council Resolution 1244,” the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church wrote in a statement, adding that any change in the status of Kosovo and Metohija, which either leads to the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state or to any variation of territorial partition,without which delimitation would be impossible, is “unacceptable.” Such solutions would inevitably lead to the emigration of the majority of the remaining Serb people – the church warned, arguing that its attitude towards Kosovo does not in any way represent support of the idea of the so-called frozen conflict, but “an invitation to all political actors to continue dialogue, without pressure and blackmail.” The Serbian Orthodox Church supports every responsible dialogue that should contribute to “the reconciliation of all peoples” living in Kosovo.
We publish the statement of the Serbian Orthodox Church in its entirety:
„Celebrating the eight hundredth anniversary of the autocephaly of our Church and with deep responsibility before God, holy patriarchs, archbishops and bishops who, with their clergy, and faithful people held onto the Testament (Pledge, Vow, Oath)of St. Knez Lazar and preserved Kosovo and Metohija in spiritual memory as our holy and sacred country for centuries, fighting for the preservation of our sacred places and the freedom of the people, the Holy Synod of Bishops repeats its unanimous and unambiguous position, presented at last year’s sessions in May and November.
Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Serbia and as such is defined in the Serbian Constitution and in the UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, including Kosovo and Metohija, regardless of the illegally proclaimed so-called state of Kosovo, is recognized by a vast majority of humanity, including Russia and China, and five countries of the European Union, the OSCE, UNESCO and other important international organizations. That is why the Holy Synod of Bishops of our Church finds any change in the status of Kosovo and Metohija, which either leads to the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state or to any variation of territorial partition, without which delimitation would be impossible, unacceptable. Such solutions would inevitably lead to the emigration of the majority of the remaining Serbian people, who live in Albanian-majority communities in Kosovo and Metohija and cause vast damage to our spiritual and cultural heritage.
We present this view as bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, not as a political position, but above all as a responsible pastoral and historical stance arising from the centuries-old struggle of our Church to preserve the survival of the faithful Serbian people and sacred places in the centuries-old hearths and the will of the vast majority of our people. This stance does not in any way represent support of the idea of the so-called frozen conflict, but it is an invitation to all political factors to continue dialogue, without pressure and blackmail in the context of resolving the issue of protection of human rights of the people, freedom of life and work of the Serbian Orthodox Church, institutional and security protection of our sacred places, to provide unhindered return of the displaced people and free access to property to all those whose property was unlawfully seized or usurped. Therefore, we strongly encourage every responsible dialogue that would contribute to the rule of law and reconciliation of all peoples living in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija as Serbia’s southern province.“
The love–hate relationship between the church and the state
The May session of the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church this year was marked by the visit of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic to the Patriarchate’s associates, as well as by Patriarch Irinej’s praise of the Serbian President. Relations between the Patriarch and the SPC on the one hand, and the state top and Vucic himself, on the other hand, drastically changed since last May’s session. It was speculated already back then that the relations between the state and church authorities worsened following the announcement at last year’s Synod’s on its stance on the issue of Kosovo. The conflict culminated in August after Bishop Teodosije publicly warned of the danger of possible violence and ethnic partition, which, in his words, would eventually lead to the exodus of Kosovo Serbs south of the Ibar River.After several months, Vucic and Irinej appeared together in public for the first time in March.
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