Holy Synod of Bishops of the
Serbian Orthodox Church
Number 16/04
12 January 2004

Mr. Boris Trajkovski
President of the Republic of Macedonia

Dear Mister President,

We have been informed that yesterday, 11 January 2004 in Bitola, there has been an arrest of the Metropolitan of Veles and Povardarje and Exarch of Ohrid kyr John, the Episcope of Dremvica and Bitola kyr Marko, together with the abbots and nuns of the Ohrid Archbishopric, and only because they have been praying to God in a private apartment.

You know that this sort of violence was unseen even in the post-war communistic times of harshest persecution of the Church. We are sure that as a man who belongs to a non-Orthodox confession, a minority in Macedonia, you understand that this behaviour towards the believing people is a crying violence as against God’s also against the human laws. By threading upon the basic human and religious rights one doesn’t reach either God or democratic Europe.

Therefore we expect of You, as a reasonable statesman and Christian to put an end to this persecution of the Metropolitans John and Marko, as well as of the people arrested with them, and to immediately drop all legal charges and release them from prison. Every continuation of this and similar harassment of innocent people is nothing but an embarrassment for the Republic of Macedonia.

We feel free to add that these fellow citizens of yours do nothing else but follow what three of the Metropolitans of the MOC signed in Nis an act recognized by all Orthodox Churches. It needs to be said that this brutal conduct is not the way to solve the question of the status of the Orthodox Church in Macedonia, on the contrary, it complicates even more at the damage of the Macedonian state and people. We are convinced that no one reasonable wishes for this and neither do You.

Our Patriarchate is prepared and open for dialogue as the only Christian way to solve this and other church issues in the Republic of Macedonia, with full respect as of the Macedonian people and of the Macedonian state. This is the spirit in which our Holy Assembly of Bishops, before a while, addressed Mr. Crvenkovski, the Prime Minister of Your Government, asking of him to meet two of our bishops – the Metropolitan of Montenegro and Primorje kyr Amphilohy and the Episcope of Bachka kyr Irineos. Unfortunately, we still haven’t received an answer. With this we express our preparedness for the same two bishops to meet with You, if it is your good will to make this sooner, and to receive them on occasion the same question.

Expecting of you protection of the elementary religious and human rights as well as a summon to meet the two abovementioned bishops, we remain with respect,

Archbishop of Pec
Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci and
Patriarch of Serbia
+ Paul