Friday, February 5, 2010

Kosovo would allow patriarch ceremony, but no politics

Pristina - Kosovo's government said Thursday it would allow the ceremonial enthronement of Irinej, patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, in a monastery in the breakaway province but would not tolerate political speeches. "If his (Irinej's) request is of religious character I do not think we will refuse it," Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told reporters in Pristina. "If his visit is a political one, we will be very careful in presenting our stand."

Serbian media on Wednesday reported that Belgrade and Pristina were heading for a row over Irinej's enthronement, as the government of Serbia has no plans to ask permission from Kosovo officials to hold the ceremony in the Pec monastery on April 25.

Kosovo already banned several visits from Serbian officials, accusing them of making political speeches.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and was recognized by 65 nations. Serbia does not recognize it.

The Pec monastery in western Kosovo has been the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church patriarch since the 13th century. It has been under the protection of peacekeepers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since the Kosovo war in 1999.

Irinej was elected the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church last month, following the death of his predecessor Pavle in November.

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