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Serbia must not loosen ties with Russia in seeking to join EU - patriarch

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=10433 07 May 2013, 17:28 Serbia must not loosen ties with Russia in seeking to join EU - patriarch Belgrade, May
    Message 1 of 1 , May 10, 2013
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      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=10433

      07 May 2013, 17:28
      Serbia must not loosen ties with Russia in seeking to join EU - patriarch

      Belgrade, May 7, Interfax - The primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church
      has insisted that Serbia must not loosen its ties with "great Russia" in
      pursuing its bid to join the European Union.

      "I hope that our political leaders know how to find a bridge into Europe
      that would guarantee peaceful and stable development for our society and
      nation. On the other hand, there exist old bridges to our brothers, the
      Russian people, and to great Russia, and, thank God, these bridges,
      which have been there for many centuries, are always open to us,"
      Patriarch Irinej told the Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti.

      He complained about alleged discrimination of ethnic Serb populations in
      the neighboring former Yugoslav countries of Montenegro, Croatia and
      Macedonia.

      He cited a 1909 census as showing 90% of the population of Montenegro
      being Serb and said that in 2011 Serbs made up less than 29%. "That is
      'political and cultural engineering,' but, to put it in a
      straightforward way, it's brutal coercion," he said.

      In Croatia, a Catholic bishop was against a proposal for allowing the
      Cyrillic alphabet to be used in Vukovar, a city where Serbs make up a
      large proportion of the population, Irinej said.

      The patriarch also accused Croatian politicians of encouraging alleged
      discrimination against Serbs, including their being unjustly denied jobs
      and their problems recovering property taken away from them.

      In Macedonia, the local Orthodox clergy and community are persecuted
      "just for not wanting to live in schism," he said.

      In talking about Serbia, he cited the latest census as showing 95% of
      the country's population being believers and 85% of them being Orthodox
      Christian.

      Nevertheless, the restitution of church property that was nationalized a
      long time ago remains a major problem, according to the patriarch.

      "Symphony between state and church is, unfortunately, not what exists
      today," he said.
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