Macedonian Church welcomes Nikolić’s proposal

SKOPJE -- Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC) Spokesman Bishop Timotej has welcomed Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić’s call to discuss the status of the MPC.

A view of Skopje (Tanjug, file)
A view of Skopje (Tanjug, file)

He added that the problem could only be solved through dialogue.

The Serbian president has stated that Serbia and Macedonia should help solve the issue of the MPC.

The MPC spokesman said that Nikolić’s call was “positive” but that his condition to release Macedonian Bishop Jovan Vranishovski who is loyal to the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) was not a church issue but a political one.

“What Nikolić said about the dialogue is a new moment in relations between the MPC and SPC because the SPC and the state of Serbia have so far always held the position that this is an inter-church and not an inter-state issue. These are new circumstances now that are important since the words were said by the Serbian president,” Timotej told Beta news agency.

According to him, the MPC accepts a dialogue on church issues while all other issues need to be resolved at the state level.

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov still has not reacted to Nikolić’s statement.

Vranishovski is accused of embezzlement but the SPC claims that he has been politically persecuted ever since he joined the canonic unity with the SPC.

The Serbian president proposed Macedonia to hold talks in order to solve the long-time conflict between the SPC and canonically unrecognized MPC.

Nikolić told Macedonian TV Sitel and daily Vecher that an agreement between the SPC and the MPC could be reached if both states got involved in the resolution of the issues.

He said that he was ready to discuss the relations between the SPC and Macedonia.

The two churches have been fighting over the MPC’s status for decades now. The SPC and other Orthodox churches to do not recognize the MPC’s independence.

Šabac Bishop Lavrentije said earlier on Friday that the problem should be solved by the churches without the involvement of the state bodies.

“Serbia, Macedonia should help reach agreement”

“Open talks between the two states can lead to the least painful solution to the problems between the two churches,” Nikolić told Sitel TV and daily Vecher.

“I suggest that we should sit down and talk about everything, including Macedonia's stance in relation to the SPC, and the SPC's stand on Macedonia, the MPC,” he noted.

Both the Serbian and the Macedonian authorities have believed that the conflict between the SPC and the MPC is a church issue, which should be resolved by bishops but so far no resolution has been reached.

The Serbian president, however, believes that involvement of both states and open talks could lead to the least painful solution to the problem, TV Sitel reported.

The SPC has declared the Archbishopric of Ohrid, chaired by Archbishop Jovan, but it does not recognize the MPC as an autocephalous church. The MPC has not been recognized by other Orthodox churches in the world, and it has been officially registered only by the Macedonian state bodies.