Independent Balkan News Agency

Kosovo could be forcefully returned to Serbia, Patriarch says

Kosovo could be forcefully returned to Serbia, Patriarch says
Serbia can never bestow Kosovo and Metohija, said Irinej, the (45th) Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) in an interview. The Patriarch has also said that "the time has not come" for the visit of Pope Francis to Serbia.

"Kosovo can be stolen and occupied as is the case today. But Serbia can never say "we bestow this" (on Kosovo), because when one gives something as a present, he loses it forever; and when something is forcefully stolen, it could be returned in the same way", Irinej told Hram TV.

In his words, "the state (Serbia) makes significant efforts to try maintain Kosovo as part of Serbia and to find a political solution that would satisfy both sides".

"We cannot imagine Serbia without Kosovo and Metohija. That (Kosovo) is the old Serbia which has given birth to the other part of country. Kosovo represents our history, culture, spirituality and it is full of our holy orthodox values", the Patriarch said.

According to him, "the time has not come" for the visit of Pope Francis to Serbia. "When we talk about the wishes of the Roman bishop (Pope) to visit Serbia, we approve them. It (visit) would be good for our people, taking into account the relations with our closest neighbors - the Croats", Irinej said.

He explained that Serbia wants to improve its relations with Croatia and that the Pope's visit "would certainly help a lot" in that sense. However, Irinej added: "But just because of these relations throughout the history… We believe that the time has not come yet. Anything that could worsen our bilateral relations, is something we would not like to happen", the Patriarch underlined, but without being more specific.../IBNA

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