On 30 June 2022, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije received Mr. Dritan Abazović, Prime Minister of Montenegro in the patriarchal palace in Belgrade.
The reception was attended by members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Their Graces Bishops Irinej of Bačka and Fotije of Zvornik–Tuzla; Head of the Cabinet of the Serbian Patriarch His Grace Bishop of Marča kyr Sava, Mr. Aleksandar Damjanović – Minister of Finances of Montenegro, and Mr. Ivo Šoć – adviser to the Prime Minister for legal affairs.
At the end of the thorough conversation, Patriarch Porfirije addressed numerous media representatives:
– Today I had the joyous opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister of Montenegro for the third time. As during the previous meetings, in addition to the conversations we had about general topics and some everyday issues, about our interests that are similar in many segments, we also talked about the Basic Agreement. Starting from the fact that the Church is separated from the state and that our Church, wherever she has her jurisdiction, absolutely, above all, respects every state and obeys the laws of that state, we concluded that it is important that, as in all states where our Church exists and lives, the relationship between the Church and the state be regulated by a contract, likewise all other religious communities. There are agreements in every country that regulate both the obligations of the state towards the religious community and the obligations of the religious community towards the state. The contract in question in Montenegro began to be drafted in 2012. Then there were stoppages, there were problems, but thank God, in the last year we have entered the final phase. At this moment, I can say that an agreement has in principle been reached, that a consensus has been reached regarding the Basic Agreement, but of course, the procedures must be followed when it comes to the state, the Government of Montenegro, but also when it comes to our Church. This means that the existing text, which is basically agreed, must be approved by the Synod and as such confirmed and accepted. If it pleases God that everything happens as it should, then we will proceed with an agreement on the date of signing, which, when everything is over, could be the crowning glory in the normalization of relations between the state of Montenegro and our Church.
– Through the contract, our Church in Montenegro will have the possibility that everything she does is for the common good, for the good of all citizens, because that is the only normal way. In this sense, when it comes to the Basic Agreement, our Church neither expected, nor asked, nor does she think that it would be normal that she has anything more than any citizen of Montenegro, regardless of which people and nation they belong to, regardless of which religious community they belong to. However, it goes without saying that she cannot settle for anything less than anyone else. This contract, according to my deep understanding, and it is not just my understanding, ensures exactly such a status, Patriarch Porfirije pointed out and concluded:
– In the end, I have to say that I am grateful to everyone who participated in the drafting of this contract, to all those who contributed to moving towards this goal, including those from all previous governments from 2012 up to the present day. Everyone left their mark there to the extent of their abilities in the given circumstances and tried to give the best of themselves. Of course, I am grateful to the Prime Minister of Montenegro Mr. Abazović, as well as his associates and everyone from the Government. They made an effort to reach an agreement and, I can freely say, if it pleases God, to sign that contract. I feel that I, who contributed the least, got the joy and the opportunity to be one of the signatories of the Basic Agreement in Montenegro on behalf of our Church.