Montenegrins protest inauguration of latest Serbian church head

2021-08-22 20:40:20

A number of thousand individuals demonstrated Sunday in Montenegro over the deliberate inauguration of the brand new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church within the small Balkan state.

Ethic tensions have soared over the scheduled ceremony for Metropolitan Bishop Joanikije II. The protesters in Montenegro’s former capital, Cetinje, the place the Sept. 5 inauguration is to happen, waved Montenegrin flags and chanted slogans towards the nation’s authorities, accusing it of being pro-Serb.

Tons of of law enforcement officials have been deployed within the metropolis and the U.S. Embassy warned Individuals to keep away from the protest.

Regardless of calls to respect COVID-19 well being measures, most protesters didn’t put on masks whereas chanting “Treason!” and accusing the federal government of setting the stage for the “occupation” of Montenegro by Serbia.

Montenegro declared independence from the a lot bigger Serbia in 2006. The nation is deeply break up between residents who think about themselves Montenegrins and people who deny the existence of the Montenegrin nation. About 30% of the nation’s inhabitants of 600,000 identifies as Serb.

Joanikije II is to succeed the Serbian church’s earlier most senior cleric in Montenegro, Metropolian Bishop Amfilohije, who died in October after contracting coronavirus. The inauguration ceremony is ready for the Cetinje Monastery, which is taken into account the historic cradle of Montenegrin statehood.

Protest leaders stated they don’t oppose the naming of a brand new church chief however are towards his enthronement in a shrine that symbolizes Montenegro’s centuries-old battle for sovereignty and independence.

“We is not going to enable additional desecration of Montenegrin shrines by those that don’t acknowledge Montenegro as a state and Montenegrins as a nation,” Predrag Vusurovic, a protest organizer, advised the group.

Joanikije stated in an announcement that it is “a disgrace” that his inauguration is being challenged.

“I am not being despatched by the church in Serbia, nor by its state,” he stated. “I am not a foreigner. I used to be born in Montenegro, I am a citizen of this nation.”

The Serbian Orthodox Church, the most important spiritual establishment in Montenegro, performed a key position in a motion that helped defeat a long-ruling pro-Western authorities final yr. The church led months of protests towards alleged plans by that authorities to remove its property, which Montenegrin officers denied.

The previous authorities had steered Montenegro away from Serbian in addition to Russian affect. The Adriatic nation joined NATO in 2017 and is searching for European Union membership.

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Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade Serbia.

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