SIR agency reported that the Conference of European Churches (CEC) stated in a document published the day after its recent assembly (Budapest, 3-8 July), “The detention of Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski by the authorities of the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is linked to the fact that he’s exercised his human right of religious freedom”. Archbishop Jovan has been in a Skopje prison since December 2011, without trial or sentence. He faces charges of fuelling inter-religious hatred. Archbishop Jovan returned the Archdiocese of Ohrid to the authority of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC). It’d been part of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, founded in 1967 with a unilateral declaration of autocephaly from the SPC, that is, a schismatic organisation.
According to SIR, this is the Archbishop Jovan’s third arrest. Therefore, the CEC requested the competent UN and EU authorities “to investigate this case carefully”, to verify, firstly, “if the conditions of detention are in conformity with the rules established by the Council of Europe”. In addition, the CEC requested the FYROM government and its Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, “to guarantee a fair trial, and to release the Archbishop immediately” whilst awaiting trial, whose hearings, according to SPC sources, continue to be postponed. The CEC invited European Churches “to unite themselves in prayer and in solidarity” with the Archbishop, and to “send letters of protest to the responsible authorities”.
11 July 2013