Belgrade, May 19, 2023
The Bishops’ Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church has been meeting in Belgrade this week.
Among the many issues discussed is that of the ever-present problem of the persecution of the Serbian population and Church in Kosovo and Metohija.
“The Serbian Orthodox Church has always advocated that all problems in Kosovo and Metohija be solved peacefully and through dialogue, as well as that they always serve the purpose of peaceful coexistence of Serbs, Albanians and all other peoples living in that area,” the hierarchs write in their statement.
At the same time, the hierarchs state that the acceptance of the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo and Metohija would make this peaceful coexistence impossible and would lead to the increased emigration of the Serbian population.
And this is evidenced by the latest aggression from the Pristina authorities against the Serbian community and the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo. Today, the region suffers from unprecedented inter-ethnic tension and instability, the hierarchs state.
“It is clear that the goal of the Kosovo institutions is to create an ethnically Albanian Kosovo in which a free and normal life for Serbs can hardly exist.”
The Church itself in Kosovo is in a particularly difficult situation, as confirmed by international officials and bodies that deal with issues of religious rights, the Council continues. Dozens of churches have been attacked and others have been prevented from being restored, and this problem is compounded by the Albanian Kosovar authorities changing and reinterpreting laws.
“For centuries, the Serbian Orthodox Church has been the main support of our people in Kosovo and Metohija and the main factor in its unity, survival and preservation of national, spiritual and cultural identity,” the bishops write, and today it is in need of “much more active international protection against the discriminatory behavior.”
In conclusion, the Council “appeals to both Albanians and Serbs to solve the difficulties they have in the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect, especially since it was God's will that both peoples share the same living space of Kosovo and Metohija.”