The Kosovo authorities have banned Serbian Patriarch Porfiry from visiting Kosovo for Christmas, Tanjug news agency reported, citing the press office of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC).
“Serbian Patriarch Porfiry was surprised to learn that the authorities in Pristina forbid him to visit the Pečka Patriarchate before the great feast of the Nativity of Christ,” the announcement states, BTA reported.
The SOC celebrates Christmas according to the Julian calendar on January 7. The Pečka Patriarchate is the official residence of the Serbian Patriarch.
In the announcement of the SOC, it is added that Patriarch Porfiry does not give up his intention to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Pečka Patriarchate and expects this decision to be reversed, the announcement says.
The Patriarch also called on Pristina to stop violating the human rights and freedoms of the Orthodox Serb believers living in Kosovo.
Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia have been particularly high in recent months. The crisis began with the decision of the government in Pristina to change the Serbian license plates on the cars of Kosovo Serbs to Kosovo ones. Although, after negotiations and compromise, Pristina gave up on this for the time being, Serbian representatives left the Kosovo institutions and police forces, and units of the Kosovo police moved into predominantly Serb areas. Kosovo Serbs are at the barricades in northern Kosovo for the sixteenth day in a row. The demands of the Serbs are the release of the arrested Kosovo Serbs – former policemen Dejan Pantic and Sladjan Trajkovic, as well as the withdrawal of the Kosovo special forces from the area.