US behind pressure on the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro

Tension in Montenegro's inter-church relations is beneficial for both the Patriarchate of Constantinople and Washington, RISS expert Andrey Serebrich comments on the ongoing unrest in Montenegro against the state religious policy. "In December 2019, Podgorica adopted a contested church property law. According to it, all the churches built before 1918 would become state property. But the majority of these churches have been built at this time. A lot of believing people beware of state's transferring of these churches to Montenegrin dissenters," he said.

In expert's opinioin, Montenegro's President Milo Djukanovic aims to reduce the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church opposing to the plans of Atlanticist politicians. The spiritual leader of the Orthodox people of Montenegro, Metropolitan of Montenegro and Primorsky Amphilochius has repeatedly stated that Montenegro will not remain on its path towards NATO accession. Djukanovic now finds himself in zugzwang: his further actions will only lead to increasing protests and his party will significantly lose votes in the upcoming Autumn elections.

Serebrich points out that Djukanovic is not able to stop now because he is acting on orders from his American partners. The United States and the Patriarchate of Constantinople are interested in implementing this church property law. Under this law, Washington may put direct pressure on the Serbian Patriarchate, forcing it to refuse the Moscow Patriarchate's support and recognize the so-called "Orthodox Church of Ukraine" (OCU), created in 2018.

But we should not assume that the Patriarchate of Constantinople will leave the Serbian Orthodox Church alone if it recognizes Kyiv dissenters, RISS expert says. "The Constantinople Patriarch's words cannot be trusted: he says one thing today and another tomorrow. Washington in its turn is getting the best benefit from a Church split. The White House was keeping the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine under strict control. In addition, the world hegemon is exerting pressure on other local Orthodox churches, forcing them to recognize the OCU. This is what we see in Montenegro now," Serebrich concluded.

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