- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
Presidents, Prime Ministers and others have flocked to Rome for the inauguration of the first Pope from the Americas.
The inauguration of the new head of the Catholic Church on March 19 in Rome has been attended by more than 150 delegations, including numerous leaders of Balkan countries, whether or not they have large Catholic communities.
Albania, which is mainly Muslim and about 10-per-cent Catholic, was represented by the Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, his wife and the speaker of parliament, Jozefina Topalli.
Writing on Facebook, Berisha described the inauguration of Pope Francis as a historic day not only for Catholics but for humanity, while underlining Albania’s good relationships with the Vatican.
“Albanians as a founding nation of Christianity have given the world popes, saints and Mother Teresa… and have an excellent ally in the Holy See,” he said.
"We wish the Holy Father a long life and lot of successes in his heavenly mission as head of the Catholic Church,” Berisha added.
The delegation from Kosovo was represented by the Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and the Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj. Kosovo is overwhelmingly Muslim but has small Catholic and Orthodox communities.
The delegation from Serbia, which is mainly Orthodox but has a small Catholic population, mainly in the northern province of Vojvodina, was led by President Tomislav Nikolic and Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkic. The Serbian Orthodox Church, the main denomination, was represented by Metropolitan Amfilohije.
The delegation from Romania, another mainly Orthodox country but with a significant Catholic community, was led by President Traian Basescu, Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean and Romania’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Bogdan Tataru Cazaban.
Basescu expressed his congratulations to the new Catholic leader, adding that he hoped to “continue our cooperation for further development of human dignity… goodwill and peace".
Bosnia’s delegation was led by the Prime Minister, Vjekoslav Bevanda, the Foreign Minister, Zlatko Lagumdzija, the Civil Affairs Minister, Sredoje Novic and Eugen Susak, from Bevanda’s office.
Muslims are the largest religious group in Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by Orthodox Christians, but about 15 per cent of the population, mainly ethnic Croats, are Catholics.
Milo Djukanovic, the Montenegrin Prime Minister, attended the ceremony on behalf of his mainly Orthodox country.
Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov attended the inauguration on behalf of his mainly Orthodox and Muslim country.
The delegation from Croatia, which is overwhelmingly Catholic, was led by President Ivo Josipovic and Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic among others.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.