The situation in northern Kosovo continues to devolve, as Albanian officials in Prishtina refused to allow Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia entry into Kosovo and Metohija, demanding that the Patriarch distance himself from the Serbs on the barricades as a condition of entry into the province.
By refusing to allow the leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church to go to the Patriarchate of Peć, the ancient seat of the Serbian Patriarchs, to prepare for the Orthodox celebration of Christmas, the government in Prishtina is escalating the conflict.
In a statement on his Instagram account, the Serbian Patriarch wrote: “As the Patriarch, I was headed to the original and most significant seat of my church. As a priest, I was headed there to be with my people ahead of the happiest holiday. As a citizen, I was headed to my house, to my home. From the moment when I set off on this journey, I have been repeating this: wherever I have been outside of Kosovo and Metohija, I have been in a foreign land. I am only at home in Kosovo and Metohija. The doors to my home have been locked to me today and I am praying to God to unlock the hearts of those who have shut them, and for the love of Christmas and the birth of the Savior to touch the minds and consciences of all people.”
In response to Prishtina’s actions against the Orthodox Church, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić met with Patriarch Porfirije to discuss the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. Several Serbian media outlets have reported that Vučić asked Patriarch Porfirije to give his blessing to defend Kosovo and Metohija just like Prince Lazar did before the famous Battle of Kosovo in 1389.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić ordered that Serbian forces be placed on the highest level of combat readiness. Serbian Interior Minister, Bratislav Gašić, acting on instructions from President Vučić ordered that “all measures be taken to protect the Serbian people in Kosovo.” Gašić added, “I have ordered the full combat readiness of all units of the ministry… as soon as they are placed under the command of the Chief of General Staff and occupy the designated positions operational plan.”
Serbian Defense Minister Miloš Vučević explained that Vučić’s order is aimed at protecting the territorial integrity of Serbia: “It raises us to the highest level of action to be carried out by the Serbian Army, protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia and protecting all citizens of Serbia and preventing terrorism and terror against Serbs wherever they live.”