Following the violent weekend in Montenegro, when opponents to the enthronement of Metropolitan of Montenegro and Litoral Joanikije clashed with police on Cetinje, many foreign diplomats expressed concern about situation development.
European Parliament Rapporteur for Montenegro Tonino Picula and Chair of EP Delegation to EU-Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Council Vladimír Bilčík released on Monday a joint statement on the situation in this Mediterranean country.
“We have followed the weekend events in Montenegro with great concern and we categorically condemn all violent acts that occurred both on Saturday and Sunday in connection to the inauguration of Joanikije II. Montenegro should uphold fully its obligations to defend the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech, while also respecting a variety of religious rights of its citizens,” Picula and Bilčik said in the joint statement.
They emphasized that “Montenegro is an EU candidate country where political and religious leaders have a particular responsibility to reflect in their decisions on overwhelming support that Montenegro’s citizens give to EU accession. We urge all stakeholders to contribute actively to lowering tensions in the society and to upholding Montenegro’s commitment to a modern, democratic, multi-confessional and multi-ethnic society. The political instrumentalisation of one’s religious beliefs is not compatible with Montenegro’s ongoing reform process and successful EU accession. It reflects poorly on Montenegro’s international standing and long history of peaceful co-existence among people of many faiths and ethnic backgrounds.”
European Commission Spokesperson Ana Pisonero called for the restraint in Montenegro following the developments in the country over the weekend.
“Every use of force must be measured and proportionate at all times. We call for restraint and we expect all competent authorities to properly investigate and ensure effective judicial monitoring of all cases of violence, both against the protesters and against police officers”, said Pisonero.
She pointed out that freedom of assembly is a fundamental right of the EU, but underlined that it should, at the same time, be applied without harm to public health and with full respect for the rule of law, public order and security of all Montenegrin citizens.
Politicians of the ruling coalition and opposition supporters to President Milo Đukanović blame each other for the events during the weekend on Cetinje.
In the clashes between violent groups and police, about 60 persons were injured but there were no hard injuries. According to official sources, eight persons are detained, including Veselin Veljović, former chief of Montenegro police and present adviser to Montenegro President Milo Đukanović.