Before and after Oluja [Operation Storm]
by Andrej Nikolaidis
At the time when Croatia was celebrating the tenth anniversary of Oluja, the Montenegrin mountains were echoing with war threats. Many of these were voiced by the same people and political parties who had laboured away like beavers also during the war in Croatia. The tragic fate of the Croatian Serbs - whom they pushed towards disaster - has taught no lessons to those who once worked so hard to create a ‘Dubrovnik Republic’. Today they are still in the lead when it comes to threats of war, as aggressive and loud now as they were then. A horde of hooligans terrorised recently Tivat after the victory of the Serbian over the Croatian football team. For two hours it seemed that the Croats were about to be lynched. Then on Mt Rumija the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) moved from words to deed: its followers, wearing T-shirts with the image of Karadžić, welcomed the erection of a model church made of tin, and in doing so offended all the other confessional groups which used to visit Rumija, as part of an ancient tradition. The strategy is clear: to put pressure on the minorities. Croats, Bosniaks/Muslims, and Albanians remain the targets of the ever-ready architects of Great Serbia. The attacks are meant to frighten the minorities, but also to show up the government’s inability to control its state territory and protect its citizens.
So Amfilohije is leading 2:0. Unless the government does its duty, his advantage will grow still further. If matters continue in this fashion, the minorities will be too frightened to vote for Montenegro’s independence. His following includes those who have lost the wars which they started. Amfilohije’s story is an old one: ‘Serbs are under threat!’ The same story was being told when Serb military and paramilitary forces held over one third of Croatia under occupation. Croatian Serbs had no reason for engaging in robbery and war: they could have been loyal citizens of a democratic Croatia. Belgrade’s (and Podgorica’s) propaganda, however, pushed them into a war in which they lost everything. They chose the war that in the end produced Oluja: i.e. a total defeat for the Serb side. The same happened in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina: it was only Washington which prevented the Bosnian army from entering Banja Luka.
The propaganda that used to be marketed also by Amfilohije’s church insisted that a new NDH [the Croatian quisling state in World War II} was being created under Germany’s patronage. Neither is the new Croatia an NDH, nor is Germany a Nazi state. Nevertheless, as a result of Belgrade’s policy, one of the NDH’s aims has been achieved: there are hardly any Serbs left in Croatia today. But the old game continues - frightening the Serbs with Montenegro’s independence. Instead of an ‘Ustasha Croatia’ we now have a ‘Doclean Montenegro’. As before in Croatia and Bosnia, the mountain peaks are once again being invested, albeit this time not by guns but by model tin churches. But the propaganda remains the same: that only nationalist Belgrade and the SPC can protect the Serbs. This despite the fact that the Serbs under their protection, from Knin to Prishtina, have gone.
Croatia celebrated its Storm, while here in Montenegro a tempest is being prepared. Those people do not heed the warning that only peace can secure a victory for all in Montenegro. No one can possibly profit from a conflict, whereas all stand to lose.
Translated from Monitor (Podgorica), 12 August 2005
The Autocephalous Montenegrin Church
A mass of data about the indisputably autocephalous Montenegrin Orthodox Church (CPC), which was forcefully suppressed in 1920, has been published during the past fifteen years or so. Every reasonably educated person knows that in the Orthodox world each sovereign state set up its own church, in order to prevent other states from interfering in its internal domain. Only those who wish to deny Montenegro its state independence seek to negate the existence of an autonomous Montenegrin Orthodox church before 1920. Not only was the Montenegrin church the bearer of the national and state idea, but Montenegrin metropolitans - such as Petar I Njegoš - ruled also as secular leaders. They regularly wore the white vestments of patriarchs or metropolitans, i.e. the apparel worn solely by heads of autonomous churches.
Monitor (Podgorica), 12 August 2005