BELGRADE, December 26. /TASS/. The unrecognized Kosovo police have not allowed Serbian Patriarch Porfirije, who had intended to visit the autonomous Serbian province for Christmas, to cross the administrative line between the regions, Petar Petkovic, Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, said on Monday.
"Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia was banned from entering Kosovo and Metohija today by Pristina. His Holiness was physically returned from the Merdare checkpoint," Petkovic wrote on Twitter, adding that "Kurti's violence against the Serbian people has reached unprecedented levels".
Earlier, the Serbian Orthodox Church reported that Patriarch Porfirije received with astonishment the news that Pristina authorities had barred him from visiting the Patriarchate of Pec Monastery, which has been the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church for centuries, and which his Holiness officially headed. Patriarch Porfirije expressed hope that this discriminatory decision would be reversed, calling on Pristina to stop violating the human rights and freedoms of the faithful Orthodox Serbs who have lived in the province, on their ancestral land, for at least 1,500 years.
The situation in Kosovo escalated sharply on December 6, when special forces of the unrecognized entity, accompanied by patrols of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), started to occupy the premises of election commissions in northern Kosovo and Metohija. The Serbian population fought back against the Kosovars, who withdrew across the Ibar River. On December 8, about 350 Kosovo police officers entered the Serb-inhabited north of the province in armored vehicles and blockaded the northern part of Mitrovica. On December 10, the Kosovo police in Mitrovica arrested former Serb policeman Dejan Pantic on spurious charges. In retaliation, the Serbian population held mass protests and blocked several roads with barricades.