The following entry is based on news reports only. I can’t tell what is going on behind the curtain, and the pundits are biased and hence uninformative. That being said, the Montenegrin case is definitely significant.
While not knowing anything about the internal relations within the Serbian church, I’ve always been under the impression that Metropolitan bishop Amfilohije is not actually in favor of a merger of Serbia and Montenegro, simply by the principle of “better to be first in the village than second in Rome”. Particularly considering the difference between the ranks of a patriarch and of a metropolitan bishop is actually somewhat vague. The patriarch could hardly assume the position towards Serbian authorities that the metropolitan has towards the Montenegrin. And the metropolitan isn’t obliged to deal with Mr. Vucic, while Irinej is.
It seems that the election has changed that. Indeed, Amfilohije deserves credit for the victory, but the sustainability of the government in the making depends on Mr. Vucic. The two Serbian parties in Montenegro depend, even financially, on the Serbian government, and that means they have to follow its advice, especially since they are a minority in the Montenegrin parliament and the electorate in general.
The balance of power has shifted in relation to Republika Srpska as well. After the election in Serbia, the votes from Republika Srpska as well as the votes of people in Serbia who are originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina no longer carry the same weight. The majority Mr. Vucic has secured now is such that no lobby – Kosovar or Bosnian-Herzegovian – has any weight at all.
Moreover, the reliance of the government of Republika Srpska on financial aid from Belgrade is, by all accounts, increased due to bad economic development over a long period of time. The Serbian budget is taking on the obligations of Banja Luka. And after the talks Vucic held with Amfilohije it seems financial aid to Montenegro is also in the works.
So now both Banja Luka and Podgorica depend on Belgrade. Mr. Vucic is the true winner of the continuation of autocratic government in Banja Luka and of the transition of power in Podgorica.
So far, it is not in Mr. Vucic’s interest to hint at the annexation of Republika Srpska or to support the unification of Serbia and Montenegro, even if he could. It is enough that the survival of the government in Banja Luka depends on him, and the government in Podgorica on his control over the Serbian parties. So Amfilohije still doesn’t have to obey Irinej, but he does have to form an alliance with Vucic.
And then there’s his complete control over Serbian politics on Kosovo to consider as well. All these factors serve to further marginalize the Serbian opposition, even more so than in the early 1990s. Sometimes the centre depends on the periphery, and sometimes the periphery depends on the centre, and the power of the Serbian autocracy waxes and wanes with these changes, while the opposition is usually rendered helpless.
Translated by Milica Jovanovic