14 people were arrested by the Montenegrin police during protests against the enthronement of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Joannicius II. There are wounded among the demonstrators.
Police officers used tear gas against protesters who threw stones and bottles. Several demonstrators and at least seven officers are injured. The clashes took place before and during the ceremony. Enthronement took place with the use of enhanced security measures.
“The divisions were created artificially”
On Saturday, Joannicius II and the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Porphyry, came to the Cetinski Monastery under the protection of the police. Demonstrators erected makeshift barricades on the roads in an attempt to prevent the arrival of church and state dignitaries in the city.
After Sunday’s celebration, Joannicius II said that “the divisions were artificially created”. He then assured: we have done our best to remove them, but it will take a long time.
Various positions of the most important politicians
The President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanović, came to Cetinje. He declared that he was impartial as president of all citizens, but also thanked the protesters for guarding national interests against alleged attempts by Serbia to impose their influence through the Church.
Meanwhile, prime minister Zdravko Krivokapić, who was considered a pro-Serb politician, called the protests “an attempted act of terror”, headed to Podgorica. Before the inauguration of Joannicius II, thousands of inhabitants welcomed the metropolitan and the Serbian patriarch in Podgorica.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vuczić congratulated the new head of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro and praised the country’s government for not canceling his enthronement despite protests. Vuczić also assured that Serbia has no “aspirations” regarding Montenegro, but only wants “the closest and the best relations”.
The majority of Orthodox Montenegrins belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is based in Belgrade. According to experts, the Serbian authorities are using the Church to interfere in Montenegro’s internal affairs. The country broke away from Serbia and became an independent state in 2006. About 30 percent. the population identifies themselves as Serbs.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / BORIS PEJOVIC