The delegation of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the European People’s Party (EPP) to the European Parliament on Tuesday condemned incidents that occurred during the inauguration of Serbian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Joanikije in Montenegro at the weekend.
“We condemn all incidents that occurred during the inauguration of Serbian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Joanikije in Montenegro, notably those in Cetinje, the spiritual and cultural centre of Montenegro,” the HDZ/EPP delegation said in a statement signed by four HDZ MEPs – Karlo Ressler, Sunčana Glavak, Željana Zovko, and Tomislav Sokol. They also “expressed concern that several dozen people had been injured in the incidents,” state agency HINA reported.
It said that any calling into question of the existence of the Montenegrin nation and its identity is unacceptable because Montenegro has a long history of independence and the co-existence of different religious and ethnic groups on its territory.
The HDZ/EPP delegation said that anti-European political forces in Montenegro are undermining respect for human rights, stressing the need to protect the right of the Croatian people to preserve their customs and rich cultural heritage in Montenegro.
They urged the Montenegrin government to make more effort to defuse tensions so that the country can successfully continue its journey towards EU membership.
About 30 police officers and protesters were injured in riots during the inauguration in Cetinje on Sunday when people opposed to the ceremony taking place in the Montenegrin historical capital set up barricades at the entrances to the city and clashed with the police. The protesters saw the ceremony as an act of provocation and belittling of Montenegrins and demanded that it be held elsewhere in the country. The police used teargas and stun grenades to disperse the crowds.