PRISTINA, Kosovo -- The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, was enthroned on Sunday (October 3rd) in the Peja/Pec patriarchy in the presence of thousands of Serbs and Serbian President Boris Tadic. Irinej appealed to the international community not to "sin" by recognising the independence of Kosovo. He called on Serbs and Albanians to cohabit in peace and unity in the joint state of Serbia.
Two opposition party leaders -- Tomislav Nikolic of the Serbian Progressive Party and Vladimir Ilic of the New Serbia Party -- were stopped by Kosovo Police and EULEX and were not allowed to enter the country since they lacked permission from authorities. EULEX head Yves de Kermabon, KFOR Commander Erhard Buhler and the Head of UNMIK Lamberto Zannier were also present at the ceremony, which was not attended by Kosovo representatives.
About 900 police officers and KFOR troops provided security for the ceremony without incident. Kosovo police said that three buses transporting visitors from Serbia were stoned on their way back. Three people have been arrested.
Following the Serbian patriarch's message, authorities in Pristina said it is regretful when religion and politics get mixed up. Government spokesperson Memli Krasniqi described the patriarch's statement as absurd. (Zeri, Koha Ditore, Express - 04/10/10; RTK, Klan Kosova - 03/10/10)