Montenegro needs to have its own orthodox church so that it can reinforce its national identity and counter Serbia’s meddling, Mr Milo Đukanović said for AFP.
Mr Đukanović, who has been ruling his country for three decades, talked about the law on freedom of religion which prompted many believers to take it to streets.
Serbian Orthodox Church is one “of the important instruments used by the ideologists of nationalism of the Great Serbia against Montenegro, against its independence, its national, cultural and religious identity”, Mr Đukanović said.
The law adopted at the end of December stipulates that the country should take control over the property for which there’s no evidence that it belonged to religious communities before 1918.
The text of the law could refer to most churches and monasteries in Montenegro. Serbian Orthodox Church is accusing Government of trying to seize that property. Mass protests request withdrawal of the law.
“Serbian Orthodox Church is trying to use believers as a way to inflict pressure on the state to withdraw the law. That’s absolutely unacceptable”, Montenegro’s president said.
In his opinion, Montenegro should have its own church and confirm its own national identity.
“We are guided by the need to improve spiritual, social and state infrastructure so that we can strengthen citizens’ awareness of their own identity”, Mr Đukanović said.
For 30 years, small Orthodox church of Montenegro has been trying to revive. It is not recognized in the orthodox world.
As parliamentary elections are approaching, critics keep accusing Mr Đukanović of using controversy to divert attention from economic problems, mass emigration or corruption.
Mr Đukanović has also been denounced as an obstacle to democracy. He says that his opponents have always been bad at losing.