Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, August 11, 1999 Published at 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK

World: Europe

Church asks Milosevic to step down

Church said a rally was not the place for Patriarch to express his views

The Serbian Orthodox Church has appealed to President Slobodan Milosevic to hand over power to a transitional government, which could rescue the country's economy and prepare new elections.

But the church dealt a blow to the opposition by announcing that it will not participate in a large anti-government demonstration next week.

Kosovo: Special Report
The decision was announced at the end of a meeting of the Holy Synod held to decide how far the church would go in its involvement with the opposition.

The statement makes clear the position of the Serbian Orthodox Church - moral support to the opposition movement but nothing more.

A senior cleric, Archbishop Artemije, appeared on local television in the southern city of Nis to read out the announcement.

He repeated the church's appeal to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian President Milan Milutinovic to resign and make way for new leaders capable of leading Serbia out of its current impasse.


The church voiced its support for all democratic and peace-loving forces in the country and gave its seal of approval to the idea of a transitional government and extraordinary elections.

But the archbishop stressed the limits of the church's action.

The patriarch would not appear at an opposition rally planned for Belgrade in a week's time.

A rally was not the place for the head of the church to express his views, he said.

Moral leadership

The announcement will be a major blow to the opposition, which had talks with the patriarch on Monday about the involvement of the church in the campaign to unseat Mr Milosevic.

Opposition politicians had hoped the church would act as a unifying force, encouraging rival leaders such as Vuk Draskovic and Zoran Djindjic to overcome their differences in pursuit of a common goal.

In particular, the church's decision to take a low profile is depriving the opposition of the kind of moral leadership which the patriarch could have provided.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

08 Aug 99 | Europe
Millions urged to bring down Milosevic

06 Aug 99 | Europe
Milosevic hits back

01 Aug 99 | Europe
Church bomb shakes Serbs

29 Jun 99 | Europe
Orthodox church attacks Milosevic

28 Jun 99 | Europe
Serbia's church: Changing times

15 Jun 99 | Europe
Orthodox church tells Milosevic to go

Internet Links

Serbian Ministry of Information

Serbian Renewal Movement

Serbian Orthodox Church

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift