Russian patriarch meets Milosevic on peace mission
April 20, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexey II met with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic Tuesday in a symbolic show of unity between Russia and Yugoslavia.
Alexey called for an end to NATO bombing.
"We will be thankful to God if NATO receives the message asking for a peaceful solution of the problem, and for peace to dominate the region," the patriarch said following his meeting with Milosevic.
Neither Alexey nor Milosevic offered details of their meeting, but Milosevic said he was "very pleased to hear from (Alexey) what I already knew."
"The Russian church is supporting the unity of the people of Russia, Belorussia and Yugoslavia with its whole heart," the president said.
Alexey was reportedly carrying a peace plan on his visit to Belgrade calling for the demilitarization of Kosovo, an immediate halt to NATO airstrikes, and a resumption of peace talks -- a plan mirroring that of the Russian government.
Earlier Tuesday, Alexey and Serb Orthodox Patriarch Pavel celebrated Mass at Belgrade's unfinished St. Sava Cathedral, where the Russian church leader issued a plea for Serbs to do what they could to allow ethnic Albanians to return to their home.
"Do everything in your power so all well-intentioned people who left their homes in Kosovo return," he said. "The only just peace is a solid and long-term peace, that's why you must do all you can to foster peace and harmony."
But Alexey condemned the month-old NATO bombing campaign.
"NATO's bombs and missiles are intended to destroy the world order created after World War II and paid for with a great deal of blood, and to found a new order on brute force," he told a crowd of some 50,000 who filled the cathedral and spilled outside.
Serbia has appealed to Russia for help against the NATO attacks. Russia, in turn, has expressed its opposition to the airstrikes but has stopped short of offering military aid.Correspondent Brent Sadler contributed to this report.
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