Serbian Patriarch Irinej has said that Serbia can never give away Kosovo and Metohija, and that it was not yet time for the visit of Pope Francis.
“Kosovo can be taken away, be occupied as it is today, but Serbia can never say ‘we are giving that away’, because what is given away is lost forever, while what is taken away by force, is taken back the same way,” the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) told TV Hram, commenting on “the internal dialogue on KIM (Kosovo and Metohija).”
Irinej added that he “hopes our country’s top officials think the same.”
“As far as I see, the state is making great efforts to keep Kosovo within Serbia and find a political solution that satisfies both sides, and so that it remains what it is. We cannot imagine Serbia without Kosovo and Metohija,” stressed the patriarch.
According to him, that part of the state is only being referred to as Kosovo and Metohija in recent times.
“That is Old Serbia, which gave birth to this second part of Serbia. Kosovo is our history, culture, spirituality, all filled with Orthodox shrines,” the patriarch said.
He pointed out that Prizren was once the capital of the Serb nation – as was Skopje – while the Patriarchate of Pec was the residence of SPC patriarchs of bishops, and the historic home of our church.
Irinej added a people aware of itself and its history and culture cannot afford to have either the Patriarchate of Pec is some other state, or other Serb holy places for which blood was being spilled for a thousand years.
According to his words, Kosovo “cannot be a noose for Serbia, but a link that connects us to Old Serbia and the holy places there.”
When asked about when the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, might visit Serbia, the patriarch said that the time has not yet come for this, given that “historical relations are still fresh.”
He stressed that top state officials, the people and the Church want peace with everyone.
“We sit on our chair and from it we know who are friends are, but we are also making an effort to work with others,” said the patriarch.