05 May 2007

Serbian Bishop Dismisses UN Envoy's Proposal For Kosovo

Deutsche Presse Agentur, 04:09 PM, February 2nd 2007

Belgrade officials remained silent Friday immediately after the special UN envoy for Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, handed them his proposal for the future of the breakaway province, but the Serbian church immediately rejected it.

"It is unacceptable," the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo, Bishop Artemije, was quoted as saying in Brussels, the Serbian news agency Tanjug reported.

"Any solution leading to the secession of Kosovo is unacceptable for us and we will never accept it," Artemije said after discussing Ahtisaari's plan with the EU envoy for Kosovo, Stefan Lehne.

The priest called on Brussels to pressure the Albanian majority in Kosovo into "understanding" that independence was not the only option for the future status of what nominally still is Serbia's province.

The church has become increasingly influential in Serbian politics since the caretaker Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, a conservative and a "moderate nationalist" took over in Serbia three years ago.

Ahtisaari had handed his "settlement package" to Belgrade earlier Friday and has moved on to do the same in Pristina.

He refused to say what his proposal for the future status of Kosovo would be before Belgrade and Pristina get another chance for "constructive contributions."