A senior British Conservative MP has accused the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) of involvement in the smuggling of weapons into Kosovo prompting the Church to call for a KFOR investigation into the allegations.
Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, told the British Parliament that weapons from Serbia were being smuggled into Kosovo in ambulances and stored in Orthodox Christian churches.
“The government is aware, with the Fusiliers having just returned from serving in KFOR, that there are weapons being smuggled across the border from Serbia to Orthodox churches in ambulances. When our troops become aware of this and try to get permission to go and get them, the permissions take too long. By the time there is permission – unexpected – an ambulance has appeared in the church and has taken out all the weapons again“, Kearns is reported to have said on the CNA English language portal’s pages.
KFOR said in a press release on Wednesday that Kearns was referring to the Royal Fusilier Battalion which was deployed in north Kosovo in 2022. “The alleged illegal weapon presence was reported to KFOR HQ, but after further investigation in order to find confirmation of that, no evidence has emerged of what was reported. There isn’t any evidence also regarding the alleged smuggling conducted across the Administrative Border Line between Kosovo and Serbia into Orthodox churches in ambulances,” the NATO-led mission said.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on Wednesday that he meet with security service officials and KFOR to discuss the claims of smuggled weapons being stored in Serbian churches.
The Raska-Prizren Bishopric said that it was deeply concerned by the Conservative MP’s claims and called KFOR to immediately investigate them. The Bishopric said in a statement that this was a very dangerous allegation which criminalizes the SPC and warned that it is being used by some Albanian-language media outlets in Pristina to spread religious and ethnic hatred.
It added that the Bishopric will demand an apology from Kerns if her claims prove to be false. “The Bishopric does not want Alicia Kearns’ claims about the SPC in Kosovo to remain at the level of slander and become a tool to impose collective guilt on out Church and because of that they have to be investigated and the people responsible for possible crimes or the spreading of false information named and the public informed,” the statement said.
The media in Pristina reported that Kerns met with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in London recently.