Message of The Holy Assembly of Bishops of Serbian Orthodox Church on Kosovo and Metohija

Kosovo and Metohija have been throughout the centuries populated with Serbs, and up until the great forced migrations of the Serbian people toward the north, in the 17th and 18th centuries, Serbs have always been the majority population in Kosovo and Metohija. It is a generally known historical fact that the medieval centre of the Serbian state was located therein, and remaining to this day the centre of national, Christian sacred and secular culture of the Serbian people. There, in the Patriarchate of Pech, beginning in the 13th century and until this present day, is the official seat of the Serbian archbishops and patriarchs. In terms of statehood, according to all recognized international agreements, both old and new, as well as according to all resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council of the United Nations, according to the Paris Accords from 1995, and according to an entire list of legal acts of the European Union, Russia, the United States of America, Great Britain, Germany, France and other countries, Kosovo and Metohija are an indivisible part of the territory of Serbia.

Calling to remembrance these facts we, of course, in no way whatsoever can forget today's multi-ethnic composition of Kosovo and Metohija's population. In like manner we accept, as always up until now, in accordance with our Christian consciousness, all rights and all freedoms of our co-citizens of Albanian nationality and the other ethnic communities in Kosovo and Metohija. Therefore, we pray God to grant all peoples and communities in Kosovo and Metohija historical reconciliation, a peaceful future, a life worthy of human beings and every blessing.

The Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian people have preserved Kosovo and Metohija in the most difficult periods of its history. Kosovo and Metohija - that is, in the spiritual and moral sense, the heart of Serbia and soul of the Serbian people. Therefore, the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian people can never denounce their right to remain and enjoy a free life in this most cherished part of the Serbian state. For the Church it is especially important to preserve its numerous Orthodox Christian sanctuaries in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as to insure the repatriation of all those expelled from Kosovo and Metohija. All of this will be possible only if Kosovo and Metohija are preserved as an integral part of Serbia with substantial autonomy, and will not be possible, sadly, if it were to be forcibly torn asunder from Serbia. Not only would the multi-ethnic character of that region, but also the Christian identity and culture of this part of Europe, be most seriously brought to question. The eventual granting of state independence to Kosovo and Metohija would be the serious trampling upon both Divine and human rights, by stealing a centuries old, internationally recognized and confirmed right of a European Christian people and the creation of a precedent with unforseen consequences, not only for the Balkans and Europe, but for the entire world.

There is still time to undertake serious discussions and, mindful of the full historical responsibility of all, to reach an agreement, an equitable and compromised solution, acceptable to all. No one has the right with historically unthought through politics, to subjugate the rights of one people in the name of the rights of another people and to one-sidedly and forcibly change the internationally recognized borders in Europe.

For all of these reasons, the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church appeals to the United Nations, and to all of the influential countries in the world to assist precisely in finding such a solution, - equitable, and acceptable for all, - a solution that would satisfy both the legitimate interests of Serbia and the legitimate interests of the Albanian ethnic community in Kosovo and Metohija.

The Holy Assembly of Bishops invites alike the highest institutions of Serbia - the National Assembly, the President and the Government of Serbia - that with even greater endurance to defend and safeguard the integrity of Serbia. In defending Serbia, they defend equally right and justice, morals and international order. Serbia is not stealing anything from anyone; however neither can it accept to the forceful taking of fifteen percent of its territory. For us, for all Christians, and for all persons of good will the same rule applies: no on can take away anyone's soul - only a person individually can either sell or loose the same.