27.12.2022. » 19:18 | ACDC
The latest decision of the Government of Kosovo not to allow the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Mr. Porfirije, to enter Kosovo to visit the Patriarchate of Peć and believers, represents a drastic example of a discriminatory attitude towards the Serbian Orthodox Church and its believers and followers.
The latest decision of the Government of Kosovo not to allow the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Mr. Porfirije, to enter Kosovo to visit the Patriarchate of Peć and believers, represents a drastic example of a discriminatory attitude towards the Serbian Orthodox Church and its believers and followers. This decision causes additional disappointment and anxiety in the Serbian community, considering the fact that the visit of the Patriarch was announced according to the already established protocol, through the liaison officer in Pristina, as well as taking into account the political conditions set for a prelate who is asked to publicly condemn the actions of individual members of the SOC and thereby become involved in political events.
On this occasion, we would like to emphasize that the decision, as well as the current practice of the Kosovo authorities, is contrary to the provisions of the "Ahtisaari Plan", which clearly prescribes rights, privileges, and immunities for the clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Namely, Article 1.6. Annex V provides that: "Kosovo cannot arbitrarily prohibit the entry or staying in Kosovo for priests, seminarians, monks, nuns, laymen, and other invited persons and members of the Serbian Orthodox Church". Such a decision is contrary to the Constitution of Kosovo, as well as international conventions, which guarantee freedom of movement as a fundamental human right (also guaranteed by Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Furthermore, related to the abovementioned, it is important to note that the Law on Religious Freedoms in Kosovo (02/L-31) in Article 4A (4.1) provides that the SOC is one of the six recognized religious communities in Kosovo. Also, the same law in Article 5.4. stipulates that: "All religions, beliefs and religious communities in Kosovo have the right to be provided with all kinds of protection and the opportunity to exercise the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, laws, agreements and international instruments, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR)".
We have to recall the wise words, words of love and reconciliation that Patriarch Porfirije uttered after his enthronement in the Patriarchate of Pec, which was attended by the mayor of Pec as a special guest: “That is why from this place we say to Serbs and Albanians, and to all who live in these areas, let us find strength with God's help, let us recognize God, and let us protect each other because the desire is under the principles of our faith", said the Patriarch on the occasion. Is there a better message of reconciliation and coexistence than the words of the patriarch who called on all of us in Kosovo, regardless of nation and religion, to protect each other and who pointed out that "the most important thing is reconciliation, forgiveness, and peace with those we are closest to, which are our first neighbors".
Also, we remind that this is not an isolated act against the SOC, bearing in mind that the Government of Kosovo and the local self-government in Decani still refuse to implement the decision of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo regarding the return of land to Dečani Monastery.
Bearing in mind all of the above, we call on the Government of Kosovo to apologize to the Patriarch and the SOC for the aforementioned decision, as well as not to repeat the decision in the future, which is contrary to the Constitution and current laws in Kosovo. We especially emphasize that the political circumstances in Kosovo cannot and must not be used as an excuse for violating the Constitution, laws, and international conventions. Also, we demand from the government of Kosovo to implement the decision from 2016 on returning the land to Dečani Monastery as soon as possible.
In this sense, we call on the representatives of international missions and organizations in Kosovo not to remain silent on such decisions, because they raise the already high tensions in Kosovo. We expect them to say whether the ban on the visit of the Patriarch and the setting of political conditions for entry into Kosovo is in accordance with the values and norms of a society that cherishes the basic postulates of democracy and respect for human rights and freedom. We also expect their active engagement, as the effective rule of law and respect for basic human rights and freedoms, would not remain just words on paper, while at the same time there is a practice in Kosovo, where violations of these rights are allowed and tolerated.