The Archbishop Jovan scandal continues

Belgrade, Serbia - Tuesday – The relations between Serbia-Montenegro have seen increasing strain being put on them ever since the incarceration of Serbian Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid in Skoplje last week.

Archbishop Jovan was sentence to a year and a half of prison for encouraging nationalistic and religious hatred and intolerance.

Since the sentencing of the bishop, there have been many protests in Serbia for his release. Yesterday Serbian Capital Investments Minister Velimir Ilic ordered two aircraft which JAT has rented out to Macedonia to be grounded in protest of the bishop’s incarceration. Macedonian MAT airlines denied the information however.

Ilic and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica have asked Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski to grant Bishop Jovan amnesty, but Crvenkovski replied that this case was handled by the Macedonia legislature, which works independently.

He also added that there will be no trades or deal made between the two governments regarding the bishop’s freedom.

Kostunica’s advisor Vladeta Jankovic said that no one from the Serbian government has offered any deals for the freedom of Bishop Jovan.

“I categorically deny that anybody representing the Serbian government offered any deals. The government has asked for his freedom without conditions because there are no conditions necessary when the trampling of basic human rights and freedoms is at stake.” Jankovic said.

Today the Macedonian media is reporting that the Serbian government has closed traffic at the border crossing in Prohor.

The Serbian Orthodox Church has called on all organizations that have legal obligations or feel a moral responsibility to work on getting Archbishop Jovan set free.