President Nikolic with the Apostolic Nuncio, Orlando Antonini

Belgrade, 22 September 2015 – President of the Republic of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic received today a farewell call from the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See in Belgrade, Orlando Antonini, whose term expires at the end of September.

President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic underlined that the relations between Serbia and the Vatican were at their historic peak. “Our bilateral relations have entered a new phase as a result of the fact that politics is led by people who understand the importance of cherishing cooperation. Pope Francis and I have laid sound foundations, and when the base is good the building is solid, too”, stated President Nikolic. He added that the positive attitude of the Serbian Orthodox Church was valuable in the establishment of lasting cooperation. President Nikolic particularly underlined the setting up of a Joint Committee tasked to establish all the facts related to the Second World War. ”Pope Francis is one of few religious leaders who looks upon Christianity as a whole and, during our talks, I had an impression that I was considered an equal, though I am of a different religion”, President Nikolic pointed out. Since dogmas separated almost a thousand years ago, it is time to build the future respecting the existing differences”, he added. President Nikolic stressed that Serbia appreciated the support rendered by the Holy See to Serbia in its European Integration Process and expressed particular gratitude for the principled position of the Holy See regarding non-recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and Metohija. We are particularly thankful for the interest expressed by the Vatican in the preservation of the Serbian Christian heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. President Nikolic thanked the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See in Belgrade, Orlando Antonini, for his great personal contribution to the opening of a new phase in the relations with the Vatican and the friendship demonstrated towards Serbia and the Serbian people.
Apostolic Nuncio Orlando Antonini underlined that he was faced with a great amount of openness and understanding of Serbia. “Mr. President, I always had your understanding and your good intentions were confirmed by conferring on me the Order of the Serbian Flag of the Second Degree for outstanding merits in the development and strengthening of friendly relations and cooperation between Serbia and the Holy See. I endeavoured to convey your message correctly and present the situation objectively. You appreciate the efforts that I have made and I am grateful for your good intentions”, emphasized Nuncio Orlando Antonini, expressing satisfaction at the idea of Pope Francis that a Joint Committee be established as an important step towards achieving historical understanding between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. “It is essential that the Roman Catholic Church is not identified with any nation or country, for it is multi-ethnic, having its own image and specificity. Additionally, my message to Hungarians, Croats and other nations of Catholic religion is not to look to Hungary, Croatia or any other country because God wanted them to be in Serbia and to be citizens of Serbia”, underlined Antonini.