On November 16 this year, the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg announced the verdict regarding the case nr. 3532/07: “Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)”.

The verdicts states that “FYROM violated article 11 (freedom of assembly) regarding article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European convention for human rights (ECHR)” that resulted from the denial of the authorities to register the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric as a separate religious community.

The Republic of Macedonia, as the party that lost the case, is to pay off the suing party, the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, an indemnification sum of 9500 Euro.

This is the greatest victory of justice for the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric in the last 15 years, since the beginning of the state persecution against not only Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, but also against several of its Bishops, priests, monastics and faithful people.

Even without this verdict, the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric is an unavoidable reality of the religious life in the Republic of Macedonia.

Freedom, which is the highest criteria of Orthodox Christianity, is kept with self-sacrifice, not only and solely by legal acts, but it is good that sometimes that highest criteria is confirmed by the judiciary as well.

Therefore, this verdict by the ECtHR for the violation of several articles of the ECHR by the Republic of Macedonia, damaging the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric is not only a satisfaction for the faithful people of the Church, but also a clear warning for the new authorities not to rule in a totalitarian and violent manner, as the previous government did.

From the office of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Ohrid Arhcbishopric