Presenting the current problem as religious, as the question of the homogenization of the orthodox being creates the climate where there’s no space for the reaction of those who don’t belong to that being. That’s the reason why representatives of national and religious minorities haven’t said a word so far, although everybody knows that Montenegro’s destiny depends on the settlement of this issue, says Professor Adnan Čirgić, Dean of the Faculty for Montenegrin language and literature in Cetinje.
You are one of a very small number of intellectuals who expressed their view on the protest organized by the Serbian Orthodox Church, risking to be denounced, as you “meddle”. What’s the reason why intellectual elite didn’t react?
Mr ČIRGIĆ: I wouldn’t agree that the failed to react. Those who usually react, they reacted. But of course I understand the point of your question. That intellectual layer, encompassing those who enjoy national pensions and have the status of prominent cultural creators, can’t be regarded as intellectual elite. They are sinecurists waiting to see who will win – either Montenegro or the Church, and then to take the “view”. They don’t deserve to be named elite, let alone intellectual elite.
What prompted you to react?
Mr ČIRGIĆ: As far as my opinion is concerned, I would have never expressed it if this was really a religious, orthodox or Muslim matter. However, this isn’t the matter of church dogmas or canons. What we actually see is a fight between the state and one religious organization headquartered in some other country which has demonstrated its negating treatment of Montenegrin national, cultural and state self-importance.
Is that the reason they say nothing?
Mr ČIRGIĆ: Presenting this problem as religious creates climate where there’s no space for reaction of those who don’t belong to the orthodox being. That’s the reason why representatives of national and religious minorities haven’t said anything so far.
If Montenegro is civil state, and it still formally is, then nobody agrees to accept a priori national and religious identification of its citizens, there’s no homogenization of confessional and national being. In a civil state, a citizen comes first! When we accept to subject that to somebody else, we agree to jeopardize the civil concept. Therefore, neither minorities nor majorities have moral right to remain silent, as the outcome of this fight will determine whether Ljupo Ćupić will be featured on the covers of our books or maybe Pavle Đurišić.
In your column you said that Montenegro was destroyed in 1918 because it lacked its own institutions, scientific and cultural… Today we have them but…
Mr ČIRGIĆ: Anti-Montenegrin propaganda is more dispersed now than it was in 1918. Countless media in Montenegro are presenting Montenegrin society as an Independent State of Croatia. Those who celebrated heritage of 1918 today are organizers of civil protests. If Montenegrin scientific and cultural institutions had been doing their job, there wouldn’t be so many deceived citizens on the streets today and elementary school pupils wouldn’t be that happy to tear off the flag. Young people wouldn’t be desecrating one of the most important archaeological sites in Montenegro.
The fight for domination of the Church is being fought, under the cloak of the alleged democratic fight for better social status of citizens, better living standard and alike. And some scientific, education and cultural institutions remain silent. By that, I don’t mean ministries. I mean state administration.
What or who do you mean?
Mr ČIRGIĆ: That’s the matter for those institutions which were formed for that reason: Historic Institute, Institute for Books, State Archives, Faculty of Law, and Montenegrin Academy of Arts and Sciences above all. Their activities resulted in the thousands of deceived citizens that have taken their dissatisfaction to streets. However, I believe Montenegro will get out of this as winner.
And when everything comes to its place…
Mr ČIRGIĆ: Then the highest state officials will have to ask themselves what our scientific, education and cultural institutions have been doing for the last decade and a half. How is it possible that one religious organization can deceive thousands of citizens who obviously don’t know their own culture and national past.
Academic community often explain their absence of response to the state identity issues by stating they don’t want to be arbiters on political stage…
Mr ČIRGIĆ: Judging by the reactions of a part of the “elite”, they think this state owes them. The mission is clear- they want to be in state mangers but without meddling into the “political situation”. If academic community of a state is not supposed to arbiter in the most important social and state questions, then the state doesn’t need such academic community. If they didn’t say anything when Montenegro was facing the most difficult challenge since it regained its independence, what can we expect if those tacit people even say something?
Religious processions organized by the Serbian Orthodox Church gather a great number of citizens. If those are citizens who are not happy with social status, how do you explain they express their anger by walking?
Mr ČIRGIĆ: If that Law was a shield for seizing churches and monasteries from those they belong to, such Law could be an alarm for citizens. But debates that have been held so far, didn’t show that there is any basis for seizing property. Anti-Montenegrin propaganda hysteria has taken citizens to streets.
Opposite that propaganda, there’s our tacit elite and numerous NGOs. The fact is that a great part of citizens see the motive for protests in the dissatisfaction with living standard.
We saw children tearing Montenegrin flag, drawing tricolor during lesson… What are the causes of those phenomena? What are the consequences?
Mr ČIRGIĆ: That crime was incited from the outside. The causes shouldn’t be looked for in schools only. Enormous influence of the media and the Internet should not be neglected. I think the reaction of the Ministry was right in both cases you mentioned.
What would be the answer of those who pursue education policy?
Mr ČIRGIĆ: Education system is able to reshape everything that religious organizations are trying to present as part of the tradition allegedly destroyed by communist authorities. Our education system must not fall for that lie. Our institutions are obliged to educate citizens in accordance with scientific truths, not political needs.
A good dialogue needs interlocutors with good intentions
President of the Government called on the dialogue.
ČIRGIĆ: Many dialogues never produced results. The dialogue definitely isn’t the best means to settle tensions and confusing situations. A good dialogue requires interlocutors with good intentions. The state is obliged to provide guarantees for the representatives of religious communities. But I really don’t understand how a compromise can be reached between those who celebrate 1945 and 2006 and those who celebrate 1918.
Over the past three decades, Serbian Orthodox Church has been negating Montenegro and directing its role to its decay and destruction of civil order of the state.