PRISTINA -- For the first time, Serbia's Orthodox Church has called on Serbs in Kosovo to participate in next month's local elections.
Patriarch Irinej said on October 14 while visiting a monastery in the city of Pec in western Kosovo that it would be tragic if Serbs boycotted the November 3 vote and failed to form governments in regions where they make up the majority population.
If the Serbs are in a position to vote, Irinej said, let them vote "for the best among them, for the men of renown and authority, whose word will mean something."
In August, Kosovar Serb leaders threatened to boycott the vote, saying it was unacceptable if organized under local laws. Some 40,000 Serbs in Kosovo refuse to recognize Pristina's authority after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The community boycotted the last local polls in 2010.