Aleksandar Vučić SPC patrijarh Irinej.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Rade PRELIĆ / TANJUG / mm

Relations between the Serbian state and the Serb Orthodox Church (SPC) are good and the state is grateful to the SPC for contributing to the survival of Serbs where there is no Serbian state, in Kosovo and in Croatia, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in Belgrade on Friday after talks with the head of the SPC, Patriarch Irinej.   

"Few would have survived in Lika, Banija, Kordun and other parts of Croatia had it not been for the SPC. The situation is similar in Kosovo and Metohija, where people have remained where there are Serb Orthodox churches and monasteries. We are barely surviving in other areas. The situation is the same in the diaspora, everywhere where there is the SPC, it unifies our people," Vucic said at a news conference he held with the religious dignitary after their meeting.

The Belgrade made said the two discussed the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska and Vucic reiterated his message of Thursday, given ahead of the sentencing of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, that Serbia could not allow any threat to the existence and survival of Republika Srpska, stressing that "the authorities in Belgrade will respect the Dayton Agreement, the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also the territorial integrity of Republika Srpska."

Patriarch Irinej said that he and Vucic were agreed that relations between Serbia and the Bosnian Serb entity were good, and that the SPC would continue protecting the legacy of the Serbian people, its identity and culture.

Vucic noted that "difficult anniversaries" would soon be marked, including the anniversary of the establishment of the World War II Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia.

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