Montenegro to Sign Agreement With Serbian Orthodox Church

Montenegro to Sign Agreement With Serbian Orthodox Church

Montenegrin PM Zdravko Krivokapic said on Sunday that his government would soon sign a 'fundamental agreement' with the Serbian Orthodox Church, as the largest religious community in the country.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic on Sunday said that his government will shortly sign a fundamental agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church, the largest religious community in the country.

“I have been talking with Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch, Porfirije, and we will soon agree on the date of signing the agreement. This issue must not be the subject of politicization in order to score political points,” Krivokapic wrote on Twitter.

His government was elected in December 2020 after three opposition blocs won a slender majority of seats in the parliamentary elections of August 2020, ousting the long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS.

On April 14, Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights Vladimir Leposavic said that the fundamental agreement was ready and would be signed by the representatives of the Church and government. He said the contract would correct past injustices and give the Church the same rights as other religious communities.

“We made a contract earlier but it’s such a sensitive topic that one word could provoke a dispute and prolong the signing. Those negotiations weren’t easy,” Leposavic told the Serbian public broadcaster.

Media reported that on March 11 the draft was presented to the Serbian Orthodox Church Synod, which had some objections.

Montenegro has signed several “fundamental agreements” with smaller religious communities: with the Catholic Church in 2011, and the Islamic and Jewish communities in 2012, but no agreement has been reached with the Serbian Orthodox Church even though it is the largest religious community in the country.

According to the census from 2011, 72 per cent of Montenegrin citizens identify themselves as Orthodox Christians; about 70 per cent of this number follow the Serbian Orthodox Church and 30 per cent identify with the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, which is not canonically recognised by other Orthodox Churches.

Opposition parties accused the government of caving in to Serbian Orthodox Church, and to another country, meaning Serbia.

“The Prime minister manipulates believers in Montenegro as he transcribes all Church property into the ownership of another country,” DPS MP Ivan Mitrovic posted on Twitter.

The former government, led by President Milo Djukanovic’s DPS, had poor relations with the Serbian Orthodox Church, regularly accusing it of promoting Serbian nationalism and undermining Montenegrin statehood; Montenegro separated itself from a loose state union with Serbia in 2006.

Disagreements between the former government and the Serbian Church escalated in December 2019, when tens of thousands of Serbian Orthodox priests, believers and supporters started months-long protests across the country, demanding the withdrawal of disputed Freedom of Religion Law, which they said allowed for the confiscation of Church assets.

On January 20, the new ruling majority adopted changes to the law erasing all the elements previously opposed by the Church, starting with the obligation on religious communities to provide clear evidence of ownership in order to retain their properties.

source: balkaninsight

You might also like
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.