The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is appalled by reports that the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Patriarch Irinej has rejected the request by Macedonia’s government to commemorate the second Ilinden in our nation’s history at the Prohor Pchinski Monastery*, currently located in Southwest Serbia. Despite the belief that church and state are separate in Serbia, UMD strongly believes that the SOC’s rejection, which is contrary to past policy of allowing Macedonian leaders to visit the Monastery and commemorate this historic holiday, was done in consultation with Serbia’s leaders.
UMD notes the increasing Serbian nationalism of late against Macedonia, particularly that of the first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Ivica Dacic, who while on a recent visit to Greece stated “I believe that Serbia made a mistake twenty years ago when we recognized Skopje under the name Republic of Macedonia.”
Despite these negative comments on Macedonia, Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev stated that Serbia is a great friend to Macedonia and sincerely hopes for additional improvement of relations between the two countries. On the contrary, Serbia’s leadership is putting a serious strain on Serbia-Macedonia bilateral relations by putting in question Macedonia’s democratic right to self-determination and sovereignty. This statement is not only disheartening, it is simply undemocratic and contrary to the exact principles Macedonia stands to represent, principles that Serbia should also be emanating.
Given Dacic’s infamous past of being the spokesman for his mentor and war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, who openly conspired to divide Macedonia between Serbia and Greece, UMD is not surprised Dacic would make such accusations while visiting Greece. With this ridiculous statement, Dačić effectively disregarded the admirable goals of regional stability and cooperation in exchange for a misguided sense of self-righteousness and political opportunism.
UMD strongly urges Serbia’s leadership to reconsider its diplomacy with democratic values it should be following and promoting, and work to strengthen the Balkans region, rather than be a destabilizing factor.
*The Prohor Pchinski Monastery was the location for the first session of the Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) on August 2, 1944, the anniversary of the Ilinden uprising. ASNOM declared Macedonia as the nation-state of ethnic Macedonians and proclaimed the Macedonian language as the official language of the Macedonian state.