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Serb church leader calls for consensus on Kosovo

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2006.01.05 Serbianna Thursday, January 5, 2006 Serb church leader calls for consensus on Kosovo BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro-The leader of Serbia s Orthodox
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 6, 2006
      2006.01.05 Serbianna

      Thursday, January 5, 2006

      Serb church leader calls for consensus on Kosovo

      BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro-The leader of Serbia's Orthodox Church,
      Patriarch Pavle, warned on Thursday that upcoming negotiations on the
      troubled Kosovo province must reach a solution acceptable to Serbs.

      Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle recently released from the military
      hospital after injuring his hip

      The patriarch, who will not participate directly in the U.N.-mediated
      talks but is expected to have strong influence with the Serbian
      negotiators, spoke in his traditional encyclical before Orthodox
      Christmas. Most Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas by the Julian
      calendar on Jan. 7.
      "No one has the right to unilaterally change the status of our
      southern region, without the consensus of all the peoples who live in
      Serbia, including the Serbian people," the patriarch said referring
      to fears that Western powers would pressure Serbia into giving up its
      historic province.
      Kosovo has been a U.N. protectorate since 1999 when NATO bombing
      halted the Serb crackdown on Kosovo's independence-seeking and mostly
      Muslim ethnic Albanians.
      Kosovo formally remains part of Serbia, but talks to determine
      whether it becomes independent or retains some degree of autonomy are
      expected this year.
      For the church, at stake are also scores of ancient monasteries, some
      of which were destroyed during and after the 1998-1999 conflict.
      The leader of more than 7 million Orthodox Christian Serbs called for
      "peace, freedom, equal opportunities, and equal rights for all" in
      Kosovo, as well as "preservation of Serbian Orthodox sanctuaries, the
      uninhibited return of refugees, the absolute respect for European
      values and international law."
      While the ethnic Albanians demand full independence, Serbian
      officials have said they would agree to a broad autonomy for Kosovo
      but not its complete secession.
      The Belgrade negotiating team, which includes the president, prime
      minister and other top officials, agreed Thursday on a platform for
      future talks, but revealed no details from the document.
      In a statement, the Serbian leaders said they will insist on
      Belgrade's sovereignty over Kosovo and "substantial" autonomy for the
      region, as well as creation of a Serb entity in the province, demands
      that already have been rejected by Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.
      The Serbian team also said it would demand protection of the churches
      and monasteries and the Serb-owned property in Kosovo.
      The government in Belgrade is particularly concerned about 100,000
      Serbs still living in Kosovo despite occasional attacks by Kosovo
      Albanian militants.
      The patriarch urged politicians to find a solution by which "all will
      gain and no one will suffer loss."
      Later Thursday, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said he hoped to
      achieve "best solution for Kosovo within Serbia-Montenegro."
      "I believe the only truly realistic and lasting solution for the
      future of Kosovo is the one based on international law, justice and
      widely accepted principles," Kostunica said in his own Christmas

      January 05, 2006 11:35 AM
      Copyright Serbianna.com
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