There is no end to the tragedy of Serbian believers in Montenegro and Kosovo. Persecutions, extortion and contempt come to complement bad relations with Serbia, and thus Orthodoxy in the Balkans is once again being tested.
Interestingly, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro maintained a federal relationship, but lately it has been tested again on an ecclesiastical level.
Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović has been trying to cut off his country’s Church from the Serbian Patriarchate since his election, as well as to seize Serbian monasteries and properties and to gain autocephaly with rulings.
During the pandemic, Montenegrin hierarchs were dragged and arrested by the Police on charges of not observing the measures.
After the measures were lifted, Prime Minister Duško Marković stressed that the country was opening its borders to some countries. These countries initially are Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Albania, Greece. Serbia, which had only few cases of COVID-19 and observed all hygiene rules, is not among these countries.
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić has already characterized Montenegro’s decision “ridiculous” and politically motivated, while Prime Minister Ana Brnabić noted that this shows that Serbs are unwelcome in the Adriatic state.
Bishop Teodosije of Raška-Prizren of the Serbian Patriarchate described the developments and the situation in both Kosovo and Montenegro as very difficult.
Speaking of the historic Dečani Monastery, which is still guarded by NATO forces, as local authorities refuse to give it to the church despite relevant court rulings, he refers to a war against Orthodoxy.
“If the walls of the monastery could speak about all the suffering of our people in Kosovo and Metohija during the two world wars, but also in recent years, it would be a story full of difficult times, showing a nation that remains anchored on its perpetual home with its Church and its saints.”