Montenegro signed a controversial agreement
On August 3, Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazović signed a controversial agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church without coalition consensus. As we already informed you in the Monthly review of June and July 2022, this agreement was causing significant disagreements within the coalition led by Prime Minister Abazović.
Outgoing Prime Minister D. Abazović supports the agreement, and he does not give up the possibility of being Prime Minister again. However, if this fragile coalition with 41 deputies out of 81 were to agree otherwise, it intends to assert its interests from any other position.
Abazović signed an agreement with Church Patriarch Porfirij, who had no doubts about the need to sign it with the Montenegrin government. However, the Serbian Orthodox Church claims that the deal aims for nothing more than the achievement of equality for all religious communities in Montenegro.
However, this claim can be disputed. The state will not have the right to grant permission to construct Orthodox churches without the support of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Even the mentioned coalition parties do not agree with the argument that everything follows the constitution. It also caused concern among non-governmental organizations, which do not spare criticism on the agreement.
Regardless of the significant representation of the population, followers of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, critics of this agreement, see behind it the risk of weakening the sovereignty of Montenegro due to the growing influence of Serbia through the church.
The Serbian government has long been making efforts to connect with pro-Serbian parties to promote its interests in Montenegro. However, Serbia will gain even more influence by granting special rights to the church, including property rights.
Constant disputes over religious issues appear to be the biggest problem on which governments fail in Montenegro. That is evidenced by the two previous falls of governments. Although the 100-day rule of D. Abazović was the shortest, it caused considerable uproar in politics and among citizens.
The Montenegrin government fell on August 20 after a vote of no confidence, which followed disputes within the coalition. Deputies voted 50:1 to oust the government of Prime Minister D. Abazović. It was not clear whether the fall of the government would lead to early parliamentary elections or whether the parties would try to form a new governing coalition. However, after a few days, according to the latest information, the former ruling parties are negotiating to restore the government with several changes, including taking Serbian parties into the coalition. Therefore, the signature of the agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church is considered by some analysts a move by Abazović to satisfy Serbian political parties in Montenegro, which could become his coalition partners soon.