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Montenegrin gov’t urges calm ahead of Serbian Orthodox bishop’s enthronement

Montenegrin Interior Minister Sergej Sekulović has called for the defusion of tensions ahead of Sunday's ceremony of the enthronement of Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Bishop Joanikije in the historical capital city of Cetinje.

Zagreb, 4 September 2021 (Hina/MIA) — Montenegrin Interior Minister Sergej Sekulović has called for the defusion of tensions ahead of Sunday’s ceremony of the enthronement of Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Bishop Joanikije in the historical capital city of Cetinje.

Montenegrin patriots are outraged by the decision of the Serbian Orthodox Church to hold the ceremony of the enthronement of the new Serbian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral in Cetinje’s monastery that contains the remains of a Montenegrin saint from the ruling Petrović-Njegoš family.

They say it amounts to an insult to Montenegro and see the ceremony of the enthronement of that Serbian Church dignitary in the Montenegrin historical capital city as an act of provocation.

Therefore, Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović has suggested the ceremony should be relocated, or he will also join protests that Montenegrin patriots are going to stage in Cetinje on Sunday.

“It is not prudent to insist on the ceremony of enthronement of a Serbian Orthodox Church dignitary in Cetinje,” Đukanović told the press, accusing Serbia and the SPC leadership in Belgrade of falsifying historical facts and insulting Montenegro.

Although the presence of Serbian orthodox believers had initially been planned for that ceremony, the SPC has given up from that idea amidst the growing pressure and tensions.

However, it sticks to the plan that the ceremony be held in a Cetinje monastery, with priests, including SPC leader Patriarch Porfirije, attending the event.

The interior minister Sekulović wrote on Twitter the government would make sure that rallies will be peaceful.

On Friday evening, after the cabinet’s meeting, he expressed concern over the growing tensions and said the law enforcement forces would protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of inhabitants in the country.

Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić, whose candidacy for the premiership had been supported by the SPC, called on residents not to fall to any provocation.

He blamed “political and criminal groups afraid of the Montenegrin judicial reform” for fueling tensions. In mid-August, Krivokapić said he would attend the ceremony without a bodyguard.

The Serb Orthodox Church has greatly contributed to the change of government in Montenegro and to the first defeat of Milo Đukanović’s DPS party in the election in three decades.

Many leading positions in the state have been filled by those close to the SPC. The Krivokapić cabinet was elected on Dec. 4 by a majority vote in the parliament after the parliamentary elections on Aug. 30, 2020.

Tension regarding the enthronement started several weeks ago, when Montenegrin patriots said it was an insult to their country for the SPC to holding a ceremony in the monastery containing the remains of a Montenegrin saint from the ruling Petrović-Njegoš family.

Joanikije himself believes the act of his enthronement is being politicized.

He succeeds Metropolitan Amfilohije, who died of Covid-19 last year.

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