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Serbia's President Marks Orthodox Christmas In Kosovo

Serbian President Boris Tadic (left) with Bishop Teodosije outside Visoki Decani Monastery on January 6
PRISTINA -- Serbian President Boris Tadic is celebrating Orthodox Christmas at a 14-century Serb monastery in Kosovo, according to RFE/RL's Balkan Service.

He came offering "a message of peace to all people, wherever they are."

Like many Serbs, Tadic has refused to recognize Kosovo's declaration of sovereignty, instead regarding it as a rogue republic and vowing to maintain Serbia's territorial integrity. Serbia is currently challenging the legality of Pristina's sovereignty declaration at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Dozens of countries, including the United States and many EU member states, recognize Kosovo's independence.

"I am as speaking as well on behalf of the citizens of Serbia, on behalf of the state of Serbia, and on behalf of myself, and I am talking to you in the belief that peace is needed more than anything else in the space we share," Tadic said at a Vysoki Decani Monastery on Orthodox and Easter Rite Christmas Eve. "Peace is needed by all nations and by all people who are sharing a common destiny within this extremely complex Balkan area."

On January 5, Kosovar Deputy Prime Minister Rame Manaj told RFE/RL that government in Pristina received a request for the visit through the European Union and decided to allow it, provided that Tadic did not "misuse his visit for political speeches."

The Serbian president was scheduled to pray at the Visoki Decani monastery, a site regarded as holy by Serbians.

The visit is Tadic's second since Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.