Vatican shows support for Serbian EU integration

ROME -- President Boris Tadić and Pope Benedict XVI met in the Vatican to discuss Serbia’s European integration and issues related to Kosovo.

Boris Tadićand Pope Benedict XVI (FoNet)
Boris Tadićand Pope Benedict XVI (FoNet)

Tadić also met with the Vatican secretary of state and foreign minister before meeting with the pope.

After meeting with the Pope, Tadić said that the Vatican supports Serbia’s European integration and the preservation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He thanked the Pope on the Vatican’s principal support and his personal support.

Tadić said that Benedict XVI “once again stressed the importance of Kosovo as a source of Serbia’s statehood and culture.”

After a private audience between the Pope and Tadić, the rest of the Serbian delegation was presented to Benedict XVI, among them Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić.

Tadić said that the Pope gave his support to Serbia’s European integration, and its integrity and sovereignty over Serbia in Kosovo.

He thanked the Pope for his support, stating that Kosovo is the source of Serbia’s culture.

“It is the region where the Christian identity of our people was built, and political cooperation between Serbia and the Vatican is of great importance because of the great influence of the Vatican in international politics,” Tadić said.

Tadić and the Pope exchanged gifts at the end of the visit, which also concluded the Serbian President’s three-day visit to Italy.

Ahead of the meeting, Serbian ambassador to the Vatican Vladeta Janković said that Tadić’s visit is very important to relations between the two countries.

“The visit is important in order to continue stable and ascending relations between the two countries. It is a meeting with a senior state official, and I think that it is important for our public to understand that the Pope is both a state leader and the leader of the Catholic Church in the whole world,” Janković said.

He said that it is important to separate church from state, adding that Serbia had invited the Pope to visit Belgrade several years ago.

“The Pope was invited to visit, but the Vatican is avoiding it, and as far as I know, he has not been on such visits if the majority of churches that the country does not support such a visit. Therefore, a confirmation is needed from a majority of churches in order to realize the visit. As far as the state is concerned, there are no problems,” Janković said.

He reminded that the Vatican has not recognized Kosovo’s independence because it “believes in the power of international law.”

Janković added that there will be discussion of the Vatican supporting Serbia’s European integration efforts, along with bilateral talks, focusing on the position of the Catholic Church in Serbia.