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news 14 May 13

Serbian Church Likely to Back Govt on Kosovo Deal

At its forthcoming annual congress, the Serbian Orthodox Church is expected to discuss the EU-brokered deal with Kosovo and support the government on the issue, experts believe.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade
Atanasije and Amfilohije at a rally in Belgrade on May 10, Photo by Beta

Serbian Orthodox Church leaders will decide the religious body’s stance on Kosovo this month at the annual session of its governing body, the Holy Synod, predicted Zivica Tucic, an expert on religion in Serbia.

"The Church will try to find an acceptable solution for the Kosovo issue," Tucic told BIRN.

According to Tucic, the Church is likely to back the government's policy on the issue as the only practical solution.

The Serbian government made a breakthrough deal with Kosovo on the normalisation of relations in Brussels on April 19.

The draft agreement mainly concerns the future of the Serbian community in Kosovo.

The EU-brokered deal envisions that the local Serbian community will choose its own police commanders, while the composition of the police generally will reflect the ethnic structure on the ground. The draft also proposes more judges coming from the Serbian minority.

Tucic said that one of the signs suggesting that the church would back the government on the issue was the reaction of church leader Patriarch Irinej to the criticism of the deal from some bishops.

Patriarch Irinej distanced himself and the Church from all statements made by Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral and retired Bishop Atanasije Jeftic at Friday's protest against the Brussels agreement held at Republic Square in Belgrade.

During a prayer service for Kosovo at the start of the rally, Amfilohije called for "the revival of Kosovo and Metohija, all of Serbia and the Serb people".

Referring to the country's leadership, retired Bishop Atanasije said that "these three men in power are traitors who believe NATO's guarantees".

The meeting of the Holy Synod is scheduled for May 21. Besides the Kosovo deal, the Synod is also due to discuss the church's assets, the appointment of new bishops, relations with Macedonian Orthodox Christian Church and the celebration of 1,700 years of the Edict of Milan.

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