Patriarch Kirill is paying a three-day visit to Belgrade at the invitation of Patriarch Irinej of Serbia and the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“Serbia always lived as Russia did. When Russia was suffering, Serbia was also suffering. When Russia was progressing, Serbia was also making progress,” Nikolic said.
He added the Serbian people should always remember what Russia did for them, including in the First World War which broke out a hundred years ago and whose centenary anniversary is being marked this year.
Serbia regards Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church as a pillar of support, Nikolic also said.
“We are bound both with faith and blood. We are living through hard time. Christianity is facing great challenges. The Russian Orthodox Church provides a pillar of support for the Serbian Orthodox Church while Russia is a pillar of support for Serbia,” Nikolic said.
On Sunday, Patriarch Kirill will attend a ceremony of unveiling a monument to Russian Tsar Nicholas II in front the presidential palace in Belgrade. Under his rule, Russia joined WWI to defend Serbia.
“The Russian tsar risked the entire state and his people when he entered that war,” Nikolic emphasized.
During WWI, 30,000 Russian soldiers fought shoulder to shoulder with the Serbs in the territory of Serbia.
Soviet soldiers fought in Serbia during WWII. In October this year, Belgrade celebrated the 70th anniversary of Belgrade’s liberation from fascist occupiers.