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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK

World: Europe

Orthodox church tells Milosevic to go

Serbs have seen their own cemeteries hit by Nato bombing

Kosovo: Special Report
The synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church has made an unprecedented call for the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Church authorities have issued a statement urging Mr Milosevic and his government "in the interest and the salvation of the people" to give way to new authorities acceptable at home and abroad.

[ image: Milosevic should go, say church leaders]
Milosevic should go, say church leaders
The statement also expressed "deep concern" about the situation in Kosovo. It called on Serbs not to leave the province, and said Nato should provide equal protection to the province's Serbs and Albanians.

The Orthodox Church's last major statement was issued on the eve of Nato's bombing campaign. On 23 March, the Holy Synod warned the international community that Nato bombs would not end fighting between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Considerable influence

[ image: The Orthodox church wants sites like Decani monastery protected]
The Orthodox church wants sites like Decani monastery protected
The Orthodox Church has considerable influence in Serbia and has generally given tacit support to the country's politicians. The ancient seat of the church is in the Kosovan town of Pec, which Italian K-For troops entered on Monday.

The church today repeated its appeal for the protection of various Orthodox and holy sites in Kosovo, such as the monasteries at Decani and Gracanica.

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