8 December 2003, Ecumenical News International Daily News Service
Serbian Orthodox Leader Calls for Monarchy to be Reintroduced
By Jonathan Luxmoore
Warsaw, 8 December (ENI)--Serbia's Orthodox patriarch has become the first church leader in eastern Europe to declare public support for the restoration of the monarchy in his country.
Patriarch Pavle has described the decision to abolish the monarchy in 1945 as "resulting from tyranny" and said the decision should be declared "null and void". The patriarch's statement comes in advance of parliamentary elections scheduled for the end of December in which the Serbian Renewal Movement political party is calling for the monarchy to be reintroduced.
In a letter at the end of November to Serbia's royal claimant, Crown Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, Patriarch Pavle said the royal dynasty had helped liberate Serbs from Ottoman Turkish rule in the early part of the 20th century.
After 1945, a "reign of terror" under a president had been installed, the Orthodox leader said. "At the same time, European countries that preserved parliamentary monarchy now represent examples of prosperous and well-organised countries, flagships of true democracy."
London-born Prince Aleksandar was granted Serbian citizenship in March 2001, and allowed to repossess the White Palace in Belgrade's exclusive Dedinje district in 2002.
(Important note from The Royal Palace in Belgrade: The Crown Prince was born in Yugoslavia. The British Government in 1945 proclaimed suite 212 of Claridge’s Hotel in London Yugoslav territory.)
In an interview with Serbia's Danas daily newspaper in November, the prince said the failure to elect a president in 2002 and 2003 because of voter apathy demonstrated the "desperate need for stability".
"Constitutional parliamentary monarchy is not an instant solution, but the only system that provides respect for everybody regardless of their religious or ethnic origin," the prince told Danas. "Many EU [European Union] members are constitutional parliamentary monarchies, and debate on the issue is healthy. Spain went from dictatorship to democracy and EU membership, and has the most modern constitution in Europe today."
Hosting a dinner for the patriarch and other bishops on 18 November, the prince said the royal family had "always supported" the Orthodox church's message of "God's law and love among people", while "advocating democracy and respecting everyone regardless of their ethnic and religious origin or political orientation."
In his letter, Patriarch Pavle said decisions on Serbia's constitutional future lay outside the competence of the Orthodox Church, but added that the monarchy's abolition should be overturned "in the name of God's love and justice, and true general welfare and freedom".
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