The Serbian Orthodox Church presented its highest decoration to President Aleksandar Vucic despite some opposition from senior clerics who feel that the church should not show political affiliation. Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik was awarded the Order of Saint Simeon.
Vucic was handed the Order of St Sava of the 1st Degree for his “love of the Church and tireless struggle for the integrity of Serbia, especially to keep Kosovo and Metohija within it," Church head Patriarch Irinej told a ceremony to mark the 800th anniversary of the independence of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Irinej warned that “we must not give away a single foot of our holy Serb land Kosovo and Metohija”, giving Kosovo the full name used by both the Serbian state and church. The Patriarch said that the Church has every reason to give its top decoration to the Serbian President. “He did great things for all of Serbia and its future. It was notorious among the countries of Europe and elsewhere, its “friends” presented it as a genocidal country and attributed their crimes to the Serb people which was accepted, unfortunately,” he said.
According to Patriarch Irinej, “the president opened the roads to Europe and the world for Serbia and today after all his efforts, Serbia is viewed differently”. “Before him, Serbia was pacing and now its economy has started, it has taken a big step forward and we all see what is being done and how,” he said.
The Patriarch said that there were some ill-intentioned people who are claiming that Vucic will betray Kosovo. “He could have done that long ago instead of fighting to keep Kosovo, our holy land,” he said, adding that the fate of Kosovo depends on Serbia. “We will not give away a single foot of our holy Serb land. We accept a compromise and expect it but not a gift,” Irinej said.
The highest church body, the Holy Synod awarded both Vucic and the Patriarch with the Order of Saint Sava of the 1st Degree while Bosnian Serb leader and member of the State Presidency Milorad Dodik was given the lesser Order of Saint Simeon.
The order was named after the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church.