Russian FM attends unveiling of mosaic in Church of St. Sava
The central composition of the mosaic in the dome of the Church of St. Sava in Belgrade has been officially presented.Source: B92, Beta, Tanjug
Among those attending the unveiling on Thursday were Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Serbian Patriarch Irinej.
Vucic recalled that 70 artists from Russia and Serbia worked to create the decoration, made in Moscow - "weaving in millions of glittering pieces into one single message of brotherhood and solidarity."
Vucic thanked the lead artist on the project, Russia's Nikolai Mukhin, and Gazprom, who financed it with four million euros.
Sergei Lavrov addressed the ceremony to express his sincere admiration and recognition of all those who took part in making the mosaic, the artists in particular.
Noting that in some countries - such as Montenegro and Macedonia - churches participate in "political games" - Lavrov particularly emphasized the closeness of the Serbian and Russian Orthodox churches, and said he believed they would preserve their dignity, demonstrated so far, in the future as well.
Patriarch Irinej recalled that the temple is located at the site where Ottoman Turk occupiers in 1595 burned the relics of St. Sava (1175-1236) - the founder and the first patriarch of the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC). While marking 300 years of this event, the idea was born to build this magnificent temple, dedicated to Serbia's greatest spiritual and cultural figure, said the patriarch.
"On this occasion from this sacred place, we most warmly thank the brotherly Russia and Mr. Putin for their love toward our people, as well as the Russian Orthodox Church. Of course, we thank also from the heart Serbia, and Mr. Vucic for the great and valuable financial assistance," said Irinej.
Earlier in the day, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Lavrov - who is on a two-day visit to Belgrade, where he late on Wednesday spoke with Vucic - laid wreaths at the Memorial Complex of the Liberators of Belgrade, at the Monument to the Soviet Soldier, and at the monument to Russian diplomat Nikolai Hartvig.
The Serbian Army Guard played the national anthems of Russia and Serbia, and the iconic Serbian WW1 song, "Tamo daleko" ("There, far away").
Lavrov will during the day meet with Serbian Prime Ministers Ana Branbic, and then present Dacic with Russia's Order of Friendship.
Lavrov is visiting Serbia to mark 180 years since the two countries established formal diplomatic ties.