January 6, 2012

Serbian Patriarch Urges Kosovo Serbs To Stay Home For Christmas

January 5, 2012
Adnkronos International

The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, patriarch Irinej, on Thursday pleaded with Kosovo Serbs to persevere in their suffering and not to leave their homes despite current difficulties.

“Without suffering there is no resurrection and let Lord be our measure in suffering,” Irinej said in a Christmas message delivered on Thursday. Some ten million Serbs all over the world celebrate Christmas according to Julian calendar on Saturday.

Christmas joy has been overshadowed by the suffering of Serbs in Kosovo, after majority Albanians declared independence in 2008, the patriarch said. Over 200,000 Serbs have fled Kosovo since 1999 and most of the remaining 100,000 live in hostile environment in isolated enclaves, he added.

“To our dear believers, the Serbs in Kosovo, we recommend to persevere in their unjust suffering and to remain in their homes, with their church and their sacrileges in the land of their forefathers,” the patriarch said.

Kosovo is a cradle of Serbia’s medieval state and civilization, but Belgrade has practically no authority over its former province, despite Serbia’s refusal to recognize independence.

Pro-European president Boris Tadic said he will spend Christmas holidays in Kosovo 14th century monastery of Visoki Decani as he had done for the past several years with the approval of Kosovo authorities and international officials there.

Opposition leaders and the church have criticized Tadic for “betraying Kosovo” in order for Serbia’s joining the European Union whose 22 out of 27 countries have recognized Kosovo.

The EU has tied Serbia’s bid to normalization of relations with Kosovo and abolition of “parallel institutions” Belgrade still operates in the Serb-populated north.

“We must admit, brothers and sisters, that our spiritual peace has been upset and our joy isn’t complete,” Irinej said. “It has been overshadowed by fear and daily world events, particularly by tragic events in our crucified Kosovo,” the patriarch concluded.