Montenegro PM Zdravko Krivokapić made on Thursday afternoon an urgent trip to Belgrade in order to meet Serb Orthodox Church (SOC) Patriarch Porfirije and other members of the SOC Holy Synod. Everybody was convinced that the Basic Agreement between Montenegro, as a state, and SOC will be finally signed – that has not happened. Patriarch Porfirije said that Krivokapić came with new conditions, which are unacceptable for SOC.
The Basic Agreement is the document that determines the position of the Church in the state, relations of the state and Church and all other issues regarding believers, priests and the position of monasteries with monks. In the last several weeks, Montenegro authorities said that the Agreement would be signed despite some disagreements.
Bishop Joanikije of Budimlje-Nikšić, who administers the Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral after the death of Bishop Amfilohije, said to the media that at the meeting he asked Krivokapić to sign the Agreement without interference in the election of Metropolitans. Krivokapić earlier said that he will “convey a message of SOC believers in Montenegro that they ask Synod to appoint Bishop Joanikije for Metropolitane”. Krivokapić also said that he asked Patriarch Porfirije to sign the Agreement on October 30.
Joanikije told the Podgorica portal IN4S that the election of the metropolitan is in the exclusive competence of the Holy Synod of Bishops, whose session is in progress.
“Krivokapić’s proposal to sign the Basic Agreement on October 30 is absurd, as it is a kind of political manoeuvre and cannot be classified as a well-intentioned gesture that would lead to calming long-term tensions, the resolution of which was a key priority of Krivokapić’s government,” Bishop Joanikije said.
According to the statement that SOC issued after the meeting, all the details of the Basic Agreement were agreed and that representatives of the Government of Podgorica then confirmed that Krivokapić will arrive in Belgrade in the afternoon to solemnly sign the Basic Agreement with His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Porfirije.
“After several hours of delay and informing the head of the Serbian Church about a number of completely different reasons for the delay in departure from Podgorica, Krivokapić arrived at the agreed meeting at around 9 p.m. The Prime Minister of the Government in Podgorica presented new and so far unspoken reasons why he believes that the signing of the Agreement must be postponed”, the statement reads.
According to the statement, Patriarch “patiently listened to the new reasons, was surprised, and did not see any reason or justification for Prime Minister Krivokapić’s intention not to sign the Agreement, which was the only reason for his arrival at the Patriarchal Palace in Belgrade”.
“His Holiness and the bishops expressed concern for the position of the Serbian Orthodox Church and its faithful as the only church that did has not signed an agreement to guarantee its legal position, which is an act of open discrimination. The SPC and its faithful will not give up on the defence of its rights and holy sites”, the statement said.
Krivokapić, on his side, said that he confirmed his determination to sign the Agreement. “We have arranged with His Holiness to agree on the date of signing the basic agreement. I am looking forward to the election of a new Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral with great faith that he will lead the people like his predecessor, the blessed Metropolitan Amfilohije,” said Krivokapić.
“We want to host the Patriarch of Serbian Porfirije in Montenegro in the most dignified way as soon as possible, as befits the Patriarch, and the hospitable and faithful Montenegrin people,” Krivokapić concluded./ibna