Montenegro: Matica Crogorska opposes amendments on Law on Religious Freedoms

Montenegro: Matica Crogorska opposes amendments on Law on Religious Freedoms

Matica Crnogorska President Dragan Radulović stated that “it is clear that the Montenegrin Government, and probably its parliamentary majority, intend to revise the valid Law on Freedom of Religion, which is already harmonized with international law.”

Last year, changes in the law led to a large protest by members of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, as well as the arrest of several priests who took part in the liturgy.

Regarding the announced amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion, and following the statement by Justice, Human and Minor Rights Minister Vladimir Leposavić that he would speed up the procedure, Radulović pointed out that, in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Montenegro, a law can pass on a shortened procedure only if it that shall regulate issues and relations arising from circumstances that could not have been foreseen and failure to ratify it would cause harmful consequences, or when the law in-question requires harmonization with European and international law. “None of the stated reasons exist in this case, a fact which openly ridicules the law,” said Radulović.

This, as he said, represents “the fulfilment of the promise given to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which can be considered the new legislator in Montenegro.”

“It is becoming evident that the Montenegrin government, and probably its parliamentary majority, intend to revise the current Law on Freedom of Religion, which is already harmonized with international law. Montenegro enabled the Montenegrin sacral and cultural heritage, invaluable for the identity and self-understanding of the Montenegrin people, to be handed over to the SOC and thus be placed under the supervision of the state of Serbia. In the end, the SOC will end with the Cetinje monastery, a historical emblem of the Montenegrin spiritual and secular authority, which it currently does not legally own,” said Radulović.

With the announced legal amendments, he says, the Serbian dioceses in Montenegro “would get the status of a state church, which would actually make the secular character of our state meaningless.”

“Matica Crnogorska has continuously publicly pointed out the disastrous influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the sovereignty and emancipation of Montenegro, the unprincipled flirtation of the government with its leadership, as well as the degrading attitude towards the Montenegrin Orthodox Church. Matica Crnogorska appeals to MPs to oppose the Government and reject the illegal revision of the Law on Freedom of Religion,” said Radulović.

He also called on the representatives of the international community, the Montenegrin academic community and the non-governmental sector to underline the necessity of respecting the rule of law in this important case as well, since the safeguarding of the Montenegrin spiritual and cultural heritage, as well as the protection of human rights and freedoms, are currently at stake.

“In particular, we address Montenegrin expats to confront with us a harsh act of violence against the sovereignty of the State of Montenegro, its cultural and religious traditions, and the right to exist. Although this political action of the new government is not unexpected, it now provides the utmost tangible evidence not only of the anti-Montenegrin clerical spirit of government, but also the willingness to hand over Montenegrin sanctuaries to other peoples’ churches. Finally, we recall that the government has been supported by several parties that are declared civic and constituent. These parties would now have to demonstrate their opposition in action, by stopping this usurper and discriminatory act against the Montenegrin people and its historical heritage,” Radulović concluded. /ibna