Montenegrin president Milo Đukanović addressed the participants of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, saying that his state is dedicated to universal values fundamental for modern democracies. He stressed that Montenegro continuous policy of being an actor of peace, security and cooperation in the region, as well as the leader in the process of European integration and promoter of highest European values comes from our several-centuries-long tradition of multiculturalism and harmonious co-existence.
“We have the responsibility of protecting the rights of our citizens and their universality; of strengthening the fight against discrimination, racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance; and of adopting the highest standards and improving conditions for their implementation”, Đukanović pointed out.
He used the opportunity to speak on the recently adopted Law on Religious Freedoms. In a liberal way and in line with the most modern legislative standards, as he said, this Law upholds freedom of confession, regulates the legal status of religious communities and guarantees the constitutional principle of separation between Church and State.
“The drafting procedure took 5 years and included an inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders, including all the religious communities in the country and relevant international organizations, primarily the Venice Commission whose recommendations were fully accepted. This law replaced the law from 1977 – from the period of communist Yugoslavia. However, already in the preparation stage, and particularly after this law was adopted, Montenegro faced the accusations of one just of the religious communities and a brutal media campaign led mainly from the close neighbourhood, containing skilful manipulations and attempts to accuse the state of Montenegro of trying to usurp Church property and change the centuries-long purpose it was used for. In addition to this, in international forums, including this one here, we could hear accusations that Montenegro was implementing discrimination policy and violating religious freedoms.
Of course, all of this has its typical Balkan pre-history, of which I, unfortunately, have no time to speak to you today”, Đukanović explained.
He added that he wanted to make sure that by adopting this law Montenegro confirmed that it is a civic state, a multi-ethnic democracy and the society that wants to implement reforms and modernize so that it can be a constituent part of contemporary European civilization.
“That is why we are subject to multiple attacks, from within and from the outside, through an open coupling of the Church and nationalistic actions outside of the system aimed at destroying the legal order and denying the civic and multi-ethnic character of the Montenegrin state. This would in the end lead to a return to the Middle Ages and the system where the Church was above the state and citizens. However, the stability of our country is not jeopardized”, stressed the Montenegrin President.
He added that Montenegro would deal with this internal issue in a peaceful way, defending thus the concept in which all citizens and all religious communities have the same rights and equal standings.
“Montenegro remains committed to building further its credibility as a country that respects and protects human rights. I believe that this is the best way to earn your trust and support for our candidacy in the Human Rights Council for the period 2022-2024”, Đukanović concluded./ibna