Bishop Dr. Irinej of Backa: Church does not intend to engage in politics

The spokesman of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Bishop Irinej of Backa, stated on 8 April, following the end of the meeting of His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch and the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church with the state leadership of Serbia, that the Church does not intend to deliver decisions instead of the elected representatives of the people or engage in politics, but that it has an inalienable right to voice its stance on the most important national issues.

Bishop Irinej in his statement to the press said that he dismissed as improper and malicious all insinuations that the Church wanted to engage in politics.

He explained that at the meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, the Holy Synod received the full, objective information about our state’s legal and foreign policy situation, “especially taking into account the ultimatum that has recently come from Brussels, to which our country has to respond.”

Bishop Irinej said that the Holy Synod presented its views on the issues related to Kosovo and Metohija, and the survival of our people there, but also the status of Kosovo and Metohija: there is a great difference between talks on “the relations of two neighboring states” as insisted by the West, Brussels and Washington, and talks aiming to find solutions for life and survival of people without prejudice to the question of the status. “We talked sincerely and openly… We prayerfully hope that our state leadership will have conscience, and responsibility, and at the same time feelings for the need of life and the survival of our people and our general international position, and that they will know how to articulate the proper solutions” , Bishop Irinej emphasized.

We, as the representatives of the Church, do not intend and we have never even aspired to dictate nor deliver decisions instead of the state officials who were entrusted with the mandate in the elections”, he also said. But, he added, the Church also feels that it is its moral duty and inalienable right as “the only centuries-old and steady presence in Kosovo-Metohija and in all continents" to express the wish and needs of those who are at the same time citizens of Serbia, residents of Kosovo and Metohija, and believers of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Bishop Irinej also points out that he believes that it is very good and necessary in all circumstances not only in the most difficult and fateful ones to exchange opinions and experiences. "However, I am dismissing as improper and malicious all the insinuations that the Church allegedly wants to engage in politics and deliver decisions instead of the elected officials. That exists neither as an intention nor a thought," Bishop Irinej said. But if any non-government organization with small membership thinks that it has a right to be consulted by the government of the state, then the Church has even more rights to do the same since its believers are at the same time the absolute majority of citizens of this country. “In that context of completely normal exchange of thoughts and necessary consultation this meeting also should be understood”, Bishop Irinej concluded.

He did not want to comment yesterday’s statement of Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his answer to the letter of the Holy Synod and His Holiness Patriarch, saying that he was not familiar with it, hence he could not answer about things he knew nothing about. He explained that yesterday was the feast day (Annunciation), that he had service all day long and he had seen none of the media reports of the previous day.

Source: Office of the Bishop of Backa

(according to the report by Tanjug from April 8th, 2013


Government rejects “solution” for Kosovo, and demands resumption of the dialogue

Ivica Dacic: By participating in the dialogue so far and being open for compromise, the Government of Serbia has shown its sincere determination to reach an overall agreement. – Aleksandar Vucic: I do not expect negative response from Brussels, Washington or Berlin to this decision of Belgrade

The Government of Serbia unanimously rejected the proposed agreement for Kosovo and urgently requested the resumption of the dialogue with Pristina mediated by the European Union. "The government of Serbia cannot accept principles which have been verbally offered to its negotiation team from Belgrade, because they do not guarantee full security, survival, and protection of human rights of members of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija. Such an agreement would not be enforceable and would not lead to a final and sustainable solution”, Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said during the session of the Government of Serbia opened for media.

The Government also confirmed its commitment to finding a permanent solution in a peaceful manner through dialogue, one that will be a firm foundation for building a lasting peace, Tanjug reports. “By participating in the dialogue so far and being open to compromise, the Government of Serbia has shown a sincere commitment to reaching an overall agreement,” Dacic said while reading out the proposed conclusions to the ministers.

Minister of Regional Development, Verica Kalanovic did not attend the session due to illness. The Government authorized Prime Minister to inform the European Union about the s decision of Belgrade.

The meeting of the Government, which began at 5 p.m., followed the meeting of Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic with His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch and the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in its full composition, at the Patriarchate. Before that meeting Vucic addressed the public twice yesterday and on the basis of his statements one could assume what would be the decision of the Government.

Initially, at 8 a.m., a morning session of the Presidency of the Serbian Progressive Party was held, after which Vucic said that his party proposed the Serbian government not to sign “what we have not seen or what does not take into consideration even the minimum of our national interests”. At the same time, Vucic said, the government was suggested to demand the urgent resumption of dialogue with Pristina since “delay, maneuvering and waste of time represents nothing good neither for Belgrade nor for Pristina nor for the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija”.

By expressing his belief for the continuation of negotiations, Vucic said that he did not expect a negative response from Brussels, Washington or Berlin to this decision of Belgrade.

“There is no other solution except negotiations. We only request something more for our people on Kosovo and Metohija, something that is not humiliation and insult”, Vucic said. He also added that he was disappointed with the offer of the European Union, “so much that he cannot describe”, but this party did not want to close doors to the European Union. The Serbian Progressive Party “will not lead Serbia into disaster or to the past”.

He said that in Brussels it was not entirely clear ​​what Serbia should accept, but he cannot accept adding of municipalities to the four Serbian municipalities in northern Kosovo, for which Pristina said not to recognize them because of their administration, but, as he noted, it could have recognized them with respect to the Agreement on integrated management of administrative crossings.

Vucic said that the resumption of dialogue would be probably in the same or similar form as before, adding that “we will not be the one who decide on this form”. As he noted, finding a solution for Kosovo and Metohija had nothing to do with getting the negotiations start date, but with the modernization of Serbia and progress.

“The date will be given to us or not in June, or it will be given to us – in September, December… That is not the question, but whether are we or are we not really ready to negotiate”, Vucic pointed out saying “I am fed up with stupid suggestions to wait one year or two more…”, asking “what are we waiting for”.

Asked about his stance regarding the statement of President Nikolic that the dialogue should be mediated by the United Nations, Vucic answered that “It would be nice, but I am not sure whether it is possible.”

Later on, following the meeting with Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, Vucic said at the Government of Serbia that he was convinced that everyone in the world understood Serbia’s insistence on security guarantees for the Serbs on Kosovo. As agencies report, he stated that he did not believe that Prime Minister of Kosovo thought seriously when he pointed to the possibility of deterioration of the situation on the terrain in the absence of agreement between Belgrade and Pristina.

Vucic emphasized that Serbia does everything it can and that there are ongoing intensive contacts with Brussels, Washington, London, and messages with Pristina are being exchanged through local mediators.

Reacting to statements by those on the local political scene who expect from Serbia to react in a thoughtless manner, Vucic said that no one knows the situation in the state budget better than himself, and therefore no one has the right to teach him lessons.

Serbian Progressive Party would not let anyone play separatist games

Serbian Progressive Party respects the (constitutionally guaranteed) autonomy of Vojvodina and the Constitution and will not let anyone “play separatist games”, Aleksandar Vucic said following the session of the Presidency of the Serbian Progressive Party, which also discussed the situation in Vojvodina. “As if Serbia has few problems and it is now necessary, for no reason, I guess because some director not to their liking was chosen somewhere, to try to make a crisis in the north of Serbia as well,” Vucic said.

Source: Politika online, 8 April 2013