Serbian nationalists and religious groups protest against the Kosovo-Serbia agreement

Hundreds of Serbian nationalists and Orthodox Christians marched in Belgrade on Sunday to protest the Western plan to improve relations between Serbia and Kosovo.

Many Serbs see Kosovo, where the main churches and monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox faith are located, as the heart of the Serbian nation.

Serbian nationalists, who also want closer ties with Serbia’s longtime ally Russia, criticize President Aleksandar Vucic for his role in negotiating a Western-backed deal with Kosovo.

On February 27, Serbian President Aleksandër Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti agreed on the agreement for the normalization of relations between the two countries, but did not sign it.

“The people of Serbia who left this land with blood will not let go of Serbian Kosovo, because Kosovo is sacred,” said Zorica Mojsic from Belgrade as she walked with the other marchers.

The Serbian Orthodox Church organized its own prayers for Kosovo, which will last until Easter, but did not publicly support the march and its clergy did not participate.

On Friday, the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Porfirije, said during a sermon that “no one should teach the church… what Kosovo is… Liberation of Kosovo with words is easy”.

Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority, declared independence in 2008, almost a decade after the war that ended Serbian rule. But Serbia still considers Kosovo its territory, and outbreaks of violence have fueled fears of a return to conflict.

More talks are needed to implement the agreement, and the leaders of the two countries will meet again under EU supervision in the town of Ohrid, on the shores of the lake of the same name, in North Macedonia, on March 18.

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