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Fault line of civilisations?

Minaret, Stari Bar - Copyright by Alan Grant Chapel of Our Lady of Salvation - Copyright by Alan Grant
Minaret in Stari Bar – Church overlooking Kotor

In his 1993 essay on the "clash of civilisations" Samuel Huntington sought to explain (among other things) the roots of violent conflict in the Balkans:

"The great historical fault line that has existed for centuries separating Western Christian peoples from Muslim and Orthodox people… has been in roughly its current place for at least five hundred years… In the Balkans, of course, this line coincides with the historical division between the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. It is the cultural border of Europe."

When the Roman Empire fragmented into western and eastern parts, centred on Rome and Constantinople, in the fourth century AD the new border ran through what is today Montenegro. The ecclesiastical schism of 1054 also put it at the border of the zone of influence of both Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The Ottomans then brought Islam to the region.

This history is, of course, typical for the Balkans. What is less typical is that despite numerous wars and Balkan campaigns of ethnic cleansing from the early 18th century until the 1990s Montenegro has remained until today an extremely diverse society. In recent years it has become even more diverse, as the number of Serbs has increased. And yet, contrary to Huntington's analysis this mixed society has managed to avoid internal clashes.

Montenegrin diversity (2003)

Nationality

%

 

Faith

%

Montenegrin

43.16

 

Orthodox

74.24

Serbs

31.99

 

Muslim

17.74

Muslims/Bosniacs

11.74

 

Catholic

3.54

Albanians

5.03

 

Other, undeclared, no faith

4.48

Croats

1.10

 

Other and undeclared

6.98

     

Total

100.00

 

Total

100.00

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