Tirana, June 2, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency
“Kosovo is the holy land of Serbia”. This declaration was made in Tirana by the Serb patriarch Irenej and has sparked political debates in Albania. Prime minister Edi Rama has reacted by boycotting the official lunch hosted by the Orthodox Church of Albania and has publicly “denounced” the Serb archbishop by criticizing his declaration.
The declaration of the Serb patriarch that sparked debates
The archbishop of Serbia, Irenej, who was in Tirana for the ceremony of the sanctification of the new Albanian orthodox cathedral, launched a declaration referring to the role of the Serb church in the relations of the state about the issue of Kosovo and said that the Kosovo region is the holiest part of the Serb people.
“These areas are inhabited by a large number of Albanians, but not only now. We have lived with Albanians for centuries. There have never been problems between our people. What’s happening in these times between us, the detachment of Kosovo and the creation of an independent state from Serbia, hurts us. Kosovo and Metohija for us Serbs, are a holy part, where the history of our people has been developed and where our culture and our spiritual side have been developed too. A large number of saints that are part of our Church belong to this region. The Serb Patriarchate Headquarter is unfortunately located in Pec and this means that it’s in another state and not in Serbia. We cannot accept or understand this”, said archbishop Irinej.
“We’re ready to find a fair solution in order for both sides to remain happy. If we’ve lived together for centuries, then why can’t we go on doing this”, suggests Irenej.
The archbishop criticized the fact that according to him, 250 thousand Serbs have left their homes in Kosovo and suggested: “All those who have left their homes must be enabled to return and to find a way to leave peacefully in Kosovo. They have lived difficult moments, their homes have been burned, their properties have been taken by the Albanian inhabitants and they’re not being allowed to return to their homes”.
The Serb patriarch went back in time when he said: “Serbs have never been hostile to Albanians. In 1912, when Kosovo was liberated from Turkey, no Albania was displaced from Kosovo and Metohija”.
The strong reaction of the prime minister
Rama’s discontent against the Serb patriarch’s declaration was expressed by the boycott that he made to the official lunch, hosted on Sunday by Orthodox leaders.
Rama clearly reacted in today’s protocol meeting held with the representatives of the church, among which was also the Serb patriarch Irenej.
The prime minister has expressed to the senior Serb clerics his discontent about the declaration issued by the Serb patriarch. The introduction of political opinions of the Serb patriarch in the middle of a religious feast for Albanians was for us something uncalled for, -declared Mr. Rama.
He stressed that “the Orthodox community, like any other religious community, is not joined by ethnicity, but by faith in God, therefore it must not be divided by border and it must not be included in debates about the past on ethnic borders by the people of religion”.
“Nobody that comes to Albania as the representative of a religion, must forget that this is a country where different beliefs live in harmony with each other and this multi religious country must be respected by every visitor, like every visitor is expected”.
“Your colleague”, -said Rama by pointing his finger to the Serb patriarch, -“has abused with our hospitality, transforming a religious feast and the proof of our religious cohabitation into a political issue. We are revolted by this and this has insulted us”, said Rama.
“The fact that the highest state authorities had gathered yesterday to respect the Orthodox community by celebrating with it the new Cathedral, expressed the traditional respect that this country has for every religion and every religious community”, said Rama.
And, -he continued, -Albania is the wrong place for declarations such as the ones of the Serb patriarch. Following the announcement of the independence of Kosovo, this debate no longer exists and such declarations respected neither the country, north the Albanian Orthodox community, nor other communities, spoiling such glorious events”.
The Serb patriarch, Irenej didn’t react in front of the open criticism launched by Rama.
In the meeting that the prime minister had with world patriarchs were also present three ministers of the government cabinet, the minister of Social Welfare and Youth, Erjon Veliaj, minister of Education and Sport, Lindita Nikolla and minister of Culture, Mirela Kumbaro. /ibna/