His Holiness IRINEJ, Serbian Patriarch with the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops sent a letter to the EU Representative in Serbia Mr. Peter Sørensen expressing deep concern over the erroneous translation in Serbian of one part of the addressing of the EU Special Representative in Kosovo and Metohija Mr. Peter Feight in the European Parliament on June 22, 2010. Also it was expressed an extreme disappointment over the content of the Feight's view on the situation in the southern Serbian province.
In one part of the addressing the European Parliament Mr. Feight positively evaluated that "transition of the SOC towards a more moderate approach in Kosovo is another positive development".This sentence in the Serbian translation of his addressing, which was sent to media by the office of Peter Feight, was incorrectly translated and means: "The transition of the SOC towards a more moderate approach regarding the Kosovo issue is another positive developement". The difference between " a more moderate approach (behavior) in Kosovo" and "a more moderate approach regarding the Kosovo issue" (is it regarding the issue of status?) is a very large and represents a grave mistake for which His Holiness has asked for the public correction and an apology from the office of the EU.
Athough the Serbian Orthodox Church on several occasions publicly presented its firm and unequivocal position regarding the status of the southern Serbian province, we use this opportunity to once again stress that the Church neither change, nor intends to change its position on an issue that is clearly regulated by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and the will of the citizens of our country. It is the position that Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of Serbia and the self-proclaimed independence by the province of the Kosovo Albanians and one part of the international community is the illegal act which is contrary to the international law.
Insinuations of certain media (especially Frankfurt's Vesti, which say about "softening of the position of the SOC") and certain pseudo-zealot groups that are trying to divert attention from the real church-canonical reasons for the removal of now retired Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren and spread a thesis on the alleged political motivation of this decision, have no connection with reality and have a goal to deliberately harm the unity and reputation of our Church abusing the sufferings of our sanctuaries and the people in Kosovo and Metohija.
For the Serbian Orthodox Church the issue of Kosovo and Metohija is not the issue of an ordinary part of Serbia, or one Diocese, or one Bishop, but the issue of the whole St. Sava's Church because on that territory, among other things, the Monastery of the Patriarchate of Pec is situated as its spiritual center and we speak here about the most sacred Serbian land. Resolving issues of the survival of our people and the holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija can not be a monopoly of one man or one group of people, either in the Church or the state, but it is the issue of the whole Church and the all nation on which depends the preservation of spiritual, cultural and national identity of our faithful people which is sealed by the Kosovo's oath of the Holy Prince, whose memorial we will soon celebrate. So in the forthcoming period all decisions related to the all important issues in Kosovo and Metohija will be issued in full coordination of the conciliar bodies of our Church and the local Diocese,and in accordance with the Serbian Constitution and international conventions, particularly with the resolution 1244 of the Security Council of the UN.
The SOC remains deeply determined that all existing problems in Kosovo and Metohija resolve in a peaceful manner, in full respect of religious, ethnic and cultural identity of all citizens of the Province. By keeping this in mind, the Holy Synod of Bishops in the aforementioned letter to the EU HR in Belgrade, expressed deep disappointment that Mr. Feith, in his address to the EU parliament did not mention any word of the necessity of the return of over 200,000 displaced Serbs and other non-Albanians, the restitution of the confiscated church and other property by the communists, problems in exercising property rights of the returnees, the lack of the fundamental human rights and freedoms, the protection from the ethnic discrimination and the need for greater security, especially the sanctuaries of the SOC and the returnees. It is enough to mention a recent triple armed attack on the returnees in the village of Zac, who are still in daily mortal danger. The such carelessness and serious omissions give rise to serious concerns and question the confidence in the honest intentions of the mission of the European Union in this region. Therefore, the Church expects from the European parliament to insist that the EU mission in Kosovo and Metohija in the forthcoming period pay the special attention to these key issues that define the moral credibility of the international presence, based on Resolution 1244 of the Security Council of the UN.
Delivers: Bishop Irinej of Backa
June 24, 2010