THE ATHONITE MODEL: NOT APPLICABLE IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
Mount Athos is a part of Greece from 1912 after Greeks liberated it from Turkish rule. According to the Constitutional Charter of the Holy Mountain of Athos (1924), the Legislative Decree оn the Ratification of the Constitutional Charter of Mount Athos (1926) and the Constitution of Greece (1927) – Mount Athos is a self-governed part of the Greek State under the direct canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople (Istanbul). Thus, While Mount Athos is in Greece, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a seat in today’s Republic of Turkey. Mount Athos is governed by its twenty Holy, Sovereign, Royal, Patriarchal, and Stavropegial Monasteries – arranged according to ancient regime – administratively represented by the Holy Community in Karyes. All Athonite monks acquire Greek citizenship. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece appoints a Governor to Mount Athos for communication with the Athonite bodies as well as for maintenance of public order and safety at the Mount Athos. Immediately after administration of Albanian separatists in Priština unilaterally proclaimed independence from the Republic of Serbia (2008), a prominent member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts Dobrica Ćosić proposed that Serbian medieval monasteries and churches in Kosovo and Metohija should have status as Mount Athos in Greece. The same proposal was repeated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dačić in 2017. However, nothing from the Athonite model can be applied to the Serbian monasteries and churches in Kosovo and Metohija. It would be rushing from one mistake to another. It is impossible, even mechanically, to create an order of Serbian monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija such as the one on Mount Athos. If someone tried, it would be grotesque. It is utterly impossible to create in Kosovo and Metohija anything similar to the Athonite bodies similar to government and assembly. Furthermore, a hypothetical solution in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade would appoint a diplomat (maybe even governor) in charge of communicating with an ecclesiastical autonomy in Kosovo and Metohija such as the one on Mount Athos would imply the existence of bilateral foreign relations, a very dangerous proposition in the context of resolving the Serbian issue in Serbia's southern province. Equally dangerous would be regulating bilateral foreign relations and the suggested ecclesiastical autonomy in Kosovo and Metohija with the Albanian separatist authorities in Priština, which would confirm the internal sovereignty of “Kosovo”, granting “Kosovo citizenship” to Serb monks and the explicit competence of the “Kosovo” police for safeguarding the proposed autonomy. Another characteristic of the Athonite model is the frequent passing of monasteries from Greek into Slavic hands, and vice versa. But this is not only about conflicts between these two churches. The Monastery of Iviron, which was founded by Georgian monks in the 10th century, was taken over by the Greeks in the mid-20th century without any intention of returning it. The Albanian Roman Catholic clergy are using lies in their campaign to create a framework for Roman Catholic Albanians to lay claim to Serbian medieval shrines in Kosovo and Metohija and ultimately seize them. They would be quite happy to invoke the Athonite model of taking over monasteries, which would then be overseen by the “Kosovo” police forces. Therefore, the organization of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija should remain as it is. In Serbia's southern province, canonical authority is in the hands of two Serbian bishops, and one more bishop has a historical basis for that. In charge of the Kosovo-Metohija issue, which is essential for Serbian Orthodox identity, is the Serbian Patriarch, the Holy Synod of Bishops, and the Holy Council of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Any statement formulated in such a way as to suggest that the center of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade and the Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija are not in the same state, would be unacceptable. Taking everything into consideration, the proposals of Dobrica Ćosić and Ivica Dačić were voiced just like that, without any special consideration. Any attempt to implement the Athonite model in Kosovo and Metohija would be wrong and definitely fatal to Serbian national interests. Resolving the Kosovo-Metohija issue needs to wait for more favorable circumstances, when the conditions are right for a just solution that would satisfy the interests of the Serbian people.
THE SECESSION OF MONTENEGRO (2006): NEW STATEHOOD, NOT RENEWED STATEHOOD
Montenegro of the Petrović Njegoš dynasty (1697–1918), internationally recognized as an independent Princedom of Montenegro (1878), proclaimed Kingdom of Montenegro (1910), was the Serb state. Basic criteria of the Montenegro’s statehood, concluded with the Kingdom of Montenegro were Serbian population (95%), state territory with Metohija as sacred Serbian Kosovo-Metohija goal and Serbdom as state ideology. Elements of identity were the Serbian Orthodoxy, Serbian language, Cyrillic alphabet, while the symbols of the statehood were Serbian red-blue-white tricolour flag, two-headed white eagle as a coat of arms with roots in the medieval Serbian Nemanjić heraldry, people’s anthem “Onam’, onamo” known as the Serbian Marseillaise and currency perper named after currency of the medieval Serbian Empire. Two Serbian statehoods of the Kingdom of Montenegro and the Kingdom of Serbia merged in 1918 and then unified with other Serbs and Yugoslavs in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes/ Yugoslavia. The Communist Party of Yugoslavia, after its victory in the WWII, established socialist Yugoslavia (1945–1991) as a federation of six republics. The People’s Republic/Socialist Republic of Montenegro still had Serbian tricolour flag but Montenegrins were officially considered separate ethnicity, known as “the different Serbs“. Although it was a dual identity, the door were opened for deserbisation, also led by the Roman Catholic Church and Croat ideologists who considered Montenegrins descendents of so-called “medieval Red Croats“. The break-up of the socialist Yugoslavia split Montenegrin identity into two parts: Serbs and Montenegrins. Serbs claimed Serbdom of historical Montenegro, while many Montenegrins – but not all – claimed Montenegrin roots within medieval Diocletia, considered by Croat ideologists a synonym to “the Red Croatia”. After Montenegrin president Milo Đukanović in 1997 accepted a path of separatism from joint state with Serbia, so-called “Diocletian ideology” became mainstream within the ruling elite. Montenegrin separatists, together with the minority population (Bosniaks, Albanians and Croats, together around 24% of Montenegro’s population) began to outvote Serbs (around 33% of Montenegro’s population) and Montenegrins of the Serbian mother tongue (still “the different Serbs”) with 55% against 45% on almost all elections and independence referendum (2006). During the process of secession and after secession of Montenegro, the ruling elite of Montenegrin separatists and ethnic minorities totally changed the identity of Montenegro. According to basic criteria, the Montenegro’s new statehood was claimed by the ruling elite just Montenegrin, in 2018 Montenegro sent troops to southern Serbian province Kosovo and Metohija to join occupying NATO forces, while serbophobia is considered main narrative. Elements of new identity are so-called “Montenegrin Orthodoxy”, “Montenegrin language”, Latin alphabet, while the symbols of the statehood are historical red military flag of the Kingdom of Montenegro now as a state flag, two-headed white eagle is now painted yellow, a version of a song “Oj svijetla majska zoro”, similar to one published in the book Red Croatia (1937) is accepted as a state anthem. The Kingdom of Montenegro and present-day Montenegro are two totally different states with the same name. There is nothing to connect them in basic criteria of the statehood, elements of identity and symbols of the statehood. The Kingdom of Montenegro had its Serbian statehood while present-day Montenegro has its Montenegrin statehood. Thus, secession of Montenegro in 2006 led to completely new statehood, and not renewed statehood.