COMECE President calls for the immediate release of Archbishop Jovan in Macedonia
Bishop Josef Homeyer, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), today sent a letter to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President-in-Office of the European Council, to the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and to the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, alerting them to the imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan Vraniskovski of Ochrid and the Metropolitan of Skopje on 26 July 2005 in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Bishop Homeyer requests that the three leaders employ every effort at the highest political level to bring about the immediate release of Archbishop Jovan, who is a representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Macedonia. Archbishop Jovan was convicted on 1 July 2004 of allegedly instigating ethnic, racial and religious hatred, discord and intolerance. This conviction was confirmed by the Court of Appeal in Bitola on 23 June 2005. With this sentence Archbishop Jovan will serve up to two and a half years imprisonment.
Bishop Homeyer expresses great concern over the sentencing of Archbishop Jovan as there are reasons to believe that the statements made the Archbishop were consonant with the provisions for freedom of religion and freedom of expression as delineated in articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms .For these reasons Bishop Homeyer calls upon these three leaders to pursue bilateral contacts and discussions to broker the release of Archbishop Jovan forthwith.
Bishop Josef Homeyer is Bishop Emeritus of Hildesheim, Germany and is the President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).