Serbian Orthodox Delegation Meets with Appeal
March 31, 2006
New York
Serbian Orthodox Delegation Meets with Appeal The Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF), led by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the President of the Foundation, hosted a meeting with a senior delegation of Serbian religious leaders representing the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church on March 22, 2006.

The meeting focused on the safeguarding of Serbian Orthodox churches and shrines in Kosovo, which the Serbian Orthodox Church feels are in continued danger of desecration from extremist elements in the Albanian majority, given the unsettled climate in the province.
Rabbi Schneier underlined the ACF’s completely non-political concern for the protection of all religious houses of worship and holy sites. In 2001 the ACF was author of Resolution 55-254, The Protection of Religious Sites, passed unanimously by the UN General Assembly, calling for the protection of religious edifices and shrines throughout the world, and particularly in areas of ethnic strife. Among the ACF’s recent initiatives in this regard is a newly obtained agreement from Secretary General Kofi Annan to appoint a special representative to track desecrations of such edifices and shrines.

The high-ranking Serbian Orthodox officials emphasized that Kosovo was important as the historical basis of the Serbian Orthodox religion and that a Serbian Orthodox presence in Kosovo was vital to their culture. Delegation members, who felt that the province’s uncertain status served as a wellspring of continued hostility and suspicion, raised the issue of security for minorities. Rabbi Schneier commented that, “In all nations and regions, the test of tolerance was how the majority dealt with and treated the minority,” The ACF will continue to follow events closely in Serbia and Kosovo, he remarked.

Also representing the Foundation were H. E. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate, Armenian Church in America and Vice President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Reverend Dr. Fred R. Anderson, Senior Pastor, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, Trustee, Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Father Alexander Abramov, Representative of Bishop Mercurios of Zaraisk of the Russian Orthodox Church, Mr. Enrico Mandel-Mantello, Trustee, Appeal of Conscience Foundation, and G. Michael Eisenstadt, Director, International Conferences, Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

The Serbian delegation included Bishop Jovan of Sumadija, member of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan, Abbot of Decani Monastery and Vice President of the Kosovo and Metohija Office of the Holy Assembly of Bishops, Hieromonk Irinej Dobrijevic, Head of the Kosovo and Metohija Office of the Holy Assembly of Bishops and Mr. Miroslav Starovlah, Administrative Assistant, Kosovo and Metohija Office of the Holy Assembly of Bishops.

The members of the Serbian delegation expressed their gratitude to Rabbi Schneier and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation for the interest and support shown in the past and invited Rabbi Schneier to attend planned inter-denominational conferences in Kosovo and in Belgrade during 2006.
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