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Serbs in Montenegro

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Title: Serbs in Montenegro  
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Subject: List of Serbs, Miodrag Bulatović, Demographic history of Montenegro, Serb People's Party (Montenegro), New Serb Democracy
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Serbs in Montenegro

Serbs of Montenegro
Notable Serb Montenegrins
Total population

182,473 Serb Montenegrins
28.73% of Montenegro population (2011)

Native Serbian speakers: 265,895
42.88% of Montenegro population (2011)
Regions with significant populations
Andrijevica (61.86%), Plužine (65.65%), Pljevlja (57.07%), Herceg Novi (48.89%), Žabljak (41.30%), Šavnik (42.42%), Kolašin (35.75%), Berane (42.96 %), Budva (37.71 %), Bijelo Polje (35.96%), Tivat (31,61%)
Serbian (Eastern Herzegovinian,
Zeta-South Sandžak dialects)
Serbian Orthodox Church
Related ethnic groups

Montenegrin Serbs (Serbian: Црногорcки Cрби[a]) compose the second largest ethnic group in Montenegro (29.00% in 2011[2]), after the Montenegrins. In historiography, the Orthodox people of Montenegro were called Serbs. In the constitutions of the Principality of Montenegro and Kingdom of Montenegro, the Montenegrin people's ethnonym was Serbs. With the forming of Communist Yugoslavia, the censuses showed a majority of people declaring as Montenegrins.


Middle Ages

Early Middle Ages

Slav raids on Eastern Roman territory are mentioned in 518, and by the 580s they had conquered large areas referred to as Sclavinia.[3] According to Byzantine sources, Serbs lived in a region in the Western Balkans in areas which were organized into župa, an administrative division held by a župan. Early polities include Paganija, Zachumlje, Travunija with Konavle, Duklja, and Serbia with Bosnia. Višeslav (fl. 768-814), the first known Serbian monarch by name, ruled the counties of of Neretva, Tara, Piva, and Lim;[4] he managed to unite several more tribes into what would become the Serbian Principality. According to the Royal Frankish Annals, in 822, Serbs inhabited the greater part of Dalmatia (Sorabos, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur).[5][6][7] Prince Vlastimir united Serbia in wake of the growing threat of the Bulgars,[8] and his realm spanned over southwestern Serbia, much of Montenegro, eastern Herzegovina and southeastern Bosnia.[9] Prince Petar Gojniković defeated Tišemir of Bosnia, annexing the valley of Bosna.[10] He then expanded along the Neretva, annexing the Narentines, where he seems to have come into conflict with Michael Višević, a Bulgarian ally and at the time ruler of Zahumlje (with Trebinje and most of what would later be Duklja).[11] Višević heard of the possible alliance between Serbia and the Byzantines, and warned Symeon.[11] Symeon defeated Petar[12] and in the following years there was a power struggle between the Bulgars and Byzantines over Serbian overlordship.[13] Prince Časlav Klonimirović ruled over a confederacy of statelets covering an expansive area, uniting the tribes of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Old Serbia and Montenegro (incorporated Pagania, Zahumlje, Travunia, Konavle, Bosnia and "Rascia" into Serbia, ι Σερβλια).[14][15] He took over regions previously held by Michael, who disappeared from sources in 925.[15] According to some sources, Časlav's 'state' was based from the hinterland of Kotor.[16]

With a Byzantine annexation of Serbian territories, the county of Duklja becomes the seat of the Serbian state. The Serbian diplomatic mission whose arrival in Constantinople in 992 was recorded in a charter of the Great Lavra Monastery written in 993, was most likely sent from Duklja.[17] Jovan Vladimir had his court centered in Bar on the Adriatic coast, and had much of the Serbian Pomorje ('maritime') under his control, including Travunia and Zachlumia. His realm may have stretched west- and northwards to include some parts of the Zagorje ('hinterlands', inland Serbia and Bosnia) as well. Cedrenus calls his realm "Trymalia or Serbia",[18] according to Radojicic and Ostrogorski, the Byzantines calls Zeta - Serbia, and its inhabitants Serbs.[19]

High Middle Ages

Around 1034, the Serbs retaliated against the Byzantines under the leadership of Stefan Vojislav, a "Travunian Serb" and archon of "Dalmatia, Zeta, and Ston", possibly kin to Jovan Vladimir. He organized a revolt during a Byzantine succession, and was captured in 1036, though escaped jail in Constantinople in 1038 and returned to his lands, where he instigated another revolt and managed to defeat strategos Theophilos Erotikos (1039), strategos Michaelus Anastasii (1042), and Byzantine ally Ljutovid of Zahumlje (1043), and ruled independent until his death in 1043.

Late Middle Ages

Early modern period

Principality and Kingdom of Montenegro

According to "paragraph 92" in the code of Prince Danilo (1855), the Montenegrin people were ethnic Serbs and Eastern Orthodox by faith, and also "part of the Serb nation".[20]

Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Montenegro saw independence under the House of Petrović-Njegoš, firstly as a principality and then as a kingdom. Both Kingdoms fought together as independent states in the Balkan Wars and in the First World War. At the end of the war in 1918 tensions arose between the two states as the Montenegrin Whites with Serbian support deposed Nicholas I of Montenegro and proclaimed Montenegro's unification with Serbia as part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed into Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929), while the Montenegrin Greens opposed it. The conflict led to the Christmas Uprising, in which the Whites with support from the Serbian army defeated the Greens.[21] During the period of the monarchic Yugoslavia, ruled by the Serbian dynasty of the House of Karađorđević, the tensions between Serbs and Croats were increasing and most of the Montenegrin politicians supported the Serbian proposed centralised state.

Socialist Yugoslavia

During the Second World War both Serbs and Montenegrins were very active in both resistance movements, the Yugoslav Partisans and the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland known as the Chetniks. At the end of the war the socialist Yugoslavia was created and the two became republics within the Yugoslav federation.

Yugoslav Partisan Milovan Djilas described himself as a Montenegrin Serb and described Montenegro as the spiritual homeland of Serbs, saying "I am not a Montenegrin because I am a Serb, but a Serb because I am a Montenegrin. We Montenegrins are the salt of the Serbs. All the strength of the Serbs is not here [in Montenegro] but their soul is."[22] Djilas also has said "The Montenegrins are, despite provincial and historical differences, quintessentially Serbs, and Montenegro the cradle of Serbian myths and of aspirations for the unification of Serbs.".[22]

State union between Serbia and Montenegro between 1992 and 2006

After the secession of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia in 1991 and 1992, SR Montenegro held the Montenegrin referendum in 1992 which ended with a 95.96% of votes in favour for a state union with Serbia and with the changing of the socialist political system towards a pluri-partidarian one, the country was renamed into Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In this period between 1990 and 1998 Montenegro was ruled by Momir Bulatović who had close relations with the Serbian president Slobodan Milošević and who was very supportive to keep close ties between the two republics within the state union. Montenegro was also included by the economic sanctions imposed to Serbia during the 1990s. During the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia both Serbia and Montenegro suffered the attacks of the NATO forces and several targets inside Montenegro were also bombarded. All this contributed to the rise in power in Montenegro of Milo Đukanović who was known to be much less sympathetic towards the Serbo-Montenegrin ties and would became an open supporter of the independence of Montenegro. In 2006, six years after the fall of Milošević in 2000, and after insisting on international diplomacy, the former Yugoslavia became known as the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. The process of becoming a single state union ironically lead to the separation of the two states - a change which was officiated by the referendum on Montenegrin independence on 21 May 2006. A total of 419,240 votes were cast, representing 86.5% of the total electorate. Of them, 230,661 votes or 55.5% were in favour of independence and 185,002 votes or 44.5% were against.[23]

After the independence of Montenegro

Since independence, the Montenegrin society has been divided among many issues. The independence supporters are advocating for the creation of a separate Montenegrin language, regarded before as a dialect of the Serbian language, including the creation of a new Montenegrin Cyrillic alphabet which is basically the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet with the addition of two new letters. The Serbian population of Montenegro is opposed to the idea of a linguistic separation, just as they are opposed to the separation of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church from the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Montenegrin language lacks ISO code, and the Montenegrin Orthodox church is canonically unrecognized as of March 2011.

The links between the two nations remains strong, and the fact that for the last two centuries a great number of Montenegrins had emigrated to Belgrade and other parts of Serbia further strengthens the ties. The Montenegrin littoral is still the main turistic destination for most Serbian citizens, and a large population of Serbians own property in Montenegro. Many of these properties consist of summer homes, and contribute to a seasonal influx of Serbs in Montenegro, during the summers. Despite the geopolitical separation, the economic balance and relationship shared between the two countries continues to be strong.


Municipalities of Montenegro with large concentrations of Serb communities:

According to the 2003 population census, Serbs had formed majority on a relative majority of Montenegro's geographic territory, in a total of 47% of its settlements, making them the most territorial-widespread population of the country.[24]


Main article: Serbian culture


Main article: Serbian language

Serbs in Montenegro speak the Ijekavian accent of the Serbian language ; around 43% of the population of the entire country speak it as their mother tongue, including 37% of the declared Montenegrins.

Serbian was the official language of Montenegro until 2007 when the new Constitution of Montenegro replaced the Constitution of 1992. Amid opposition from pro-Serbian parties,[25] Montenegrin language was made the sole official language of the country and Serbian was given the status of a recognised minority language along with Bosnian, Albanian, and Croatian.[26] As per 2011 census results, 42.88% (63.49% in 2003) of the population declared their mother language as Serbian, compared to 36.97% (21.96% in 2003) who declared it Montenegrin, the latter being mainly concentrated in Old Montenegro.

Serbian is written in both Cyrillic and Latin script.


The Serbs are adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the strongest religious institution of Montenegro (with a total of 460,383 followers or 74%).[27]

The current Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral is Amfilohije Radović. One of the largest places of worship is the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica.

Serbian Orthodoxy in Montenegro

The Serbian Orthodox Church has been threatened in Montenegro. The newly formed Montenegrin Orthodox Church has claimed all Serbian Orthodox churches in Montenegro and is backed by a small percentage of all Orthodox Christians in Montenegro. The government has recognized the church, however none of the Eastern Orthodox churches have. The leader is the controversial Miraš Dedeić, a former Serbian Orthodox clergyman with Serbian nationalist views that after being suspended from the Serbian Church, went to Rome and became a Greek Orthodox clergyman. He formed a Serbian municipality within the Greek Orthodox church of Rome for his personal domain and was later suspended by the SOC after committing adultery with a younger woman. In 1997 he was excommunicated by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople from the Eastern Orthodox Church. MOC's leader is anathemized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and banished from Orthodoxy.

In April 2007, President Vujanović declared he would protect the property of the main religious institution in Montenegro, the Serbian Orthodox Church during an attempt of the non-canonical Montenegrin Orthodox Church to forcibly seize its property.

The Montenegrin Orthodox instigated a fight when they came and threatened Serbian Orthodox at the Cetinje monastery in 2009, Police broke the two groups.[28]


Further information: Serbian cuisine and Montenegrin cuisine


An old Christmas song from the Bay of Kotor has the following lyrics:[29]

Božić zove svrh planine, one visoke:
„Veselite se, Srbi braćo, vrijeme vi je!
Nalagajte krupna drva, ne cijepajte!
Sijecite suvo meso, ne mjerite!
Prostirite šenič' slamu mjesto trpeze,
a po slami trpežnjake, svilom kićene!
A odaje i pendžere lovoričicom!
A ikone i stolove masliničicom!
Utočite rujna vina, rujna crvena,
i rakije lozovače prve bokare!
Vi, đevojke i nevjeste, kola igrajte,
a vi, staro i nejako, Boga molite!"

Christmas calls from top of mountain, of that lofty one,
"Be rejoicing, O Serbs, brothers, it's time for you to!
Replenish the fire with large logs, do you not chop up!
Cut off slices of the dried meat, do you not measure!
Spread bundles of the wheaten straw instead of tables,
and over the straw – tablecloths, embellished with silk!
And the chambers and the windows – with the laurel twigs!
And the icons and the tables – with the olive twigs!
Fill glasses of the ruby wine, of the ruby red,
and the first pitchers of lozovača rakia!
You, girls and newly-wed women, do the kolo dance,
and you, old and infirm people, make prayers to God!"


On 26 January 2010, Serbian President Boris Tadic said it is unbelievable that the Serbs only have the status of national minority, stressing that he wants to build up the relations between the countries since Montenegro's recognition of Kosovo that weakened the diplomacy between Montenegro and Serbia but doesn't understand the position given to the Serbs in relation to the history and manners of Montenegro. He said he has no intentions to mix into the business of Montenegro, only showing what Serbia thinks about Podgorica's handling of the Serb people in Montenegro.[30]


See also


  1. ^ The correct political terms are Serbian: Црногорcки Cрби – Crnogorski Srbi, meaning "Montenegrin Serbs", and Cрби Црногорци - Srbi Crnogorci, meaning "Serbs Montenegrins". Their regional autonym is simply Црногорци – Crnogorci, literal meaning Montenegrins,[31][32] the same as the ethnic group of Montenegrins). In the early modern times, before the Kingdom of Montenegro, people [living within present-day borders] were divided by the identities of Brđani (Brda), Hercegovci (Old Herzegovina), Bokelji (Boka Kotorska) and Crnogorci (Old Montenegro). Срби у Црној Гори - Srbi u Crnoj Gori, meaning "Serbs in Montenegro".


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