Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, has publicly offered his condolences to the people of Montenegro following the death of bishop Amfilohije Radović of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“My condolences to the people of Montenegro who mourn the passing of Metropolitan Amfilohije Radović. May he rest in peace,” Várhelyi tweeted on Friday.
— Oliver Varhelyi (@OliverVarhelyi) October 30, 2020
Bishop Amfilohije was a divisive figure, as it shows in the numerous reactions under Commissioner Várhelyi’s tweet.
BBC in Serbian has listed some of the bishop’s main controversies that concern the Western Balkans, a region that is trying to enter the European Union with the assistance of Commissioner Várhelyi.
Amfilohije was appointed bishop in Montenegro in 1990.
He was a supporter of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic during the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the ensuing wars.
He joined Serbian volunteers in the battlefield in Croatia during the Yugoslav wars to bless them. He blessed the paramilitary troops of Željko Ražnatović – Arkan in 1991 and 1992. Arkan was indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) but was assassinated before the trial.
The bishop awarded the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Šešelj, for “fighting for Kosovo”. Šešelj was indicted for war crimes by the ICTY, and was found not guilty.
He visited Slobodan Milosevic, the Butcher of the Balkans, in prison in Serbia before his extradition to The Hague. Amfilohije condemned Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY, and posthumously apologized to Milosevic for not testifying in his favor.
The bishop had good relations with Radovan Karadzic, the former president of the Republic of Srpska. In the funeral of Karadzic’s mother, Amfilohije said she had brought up her child “to live and die on the sacred principles of Christian ethics.” Radovan Karadzic was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity by the ICTY in 2019.
In 2013, Amfilohije said the Srebrenica genocide was a “revenge”. Serbian troops murdered 8,372 Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995.
In 2014, he cursed Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic for joining EU sanctions against Russia.
“May he who is not not loyal to the same-language, same-blood Russia, have the living flesh fall off him, may he be cursed thrice, and 3,000 times by me,” Amfilohije repeated the curse of a 19th century bishop of Montenegro, this time against Djukanovic.
Amfilohije was one of the leading opponents of the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. He repeatedly accused the “shameful” Serbian authorities of “betraying” Kosovo by sitting in talks that could result in a “compromise solution” that would make Serbs “renounce their being, memory and saints.”
In one of his speeches against abortion in 2017, he said that Serbian women “kill more children in their wombs in one year than Mussolini, Hitler, Broz [Tito] and those in Kosovo and Metohija killed.”
Due to his overwhelming religious and political power, negotiations between the Serbian parties and the URA party led by Dritan Abazovic for the new Montenegro government were held under Amfilohije’s watchful eye in a monastery.