Montenegro Church Law Unites Serbia in Outrage

Media in Serbia have accused the government of Montenegro of planning to "rob" the Serbian Orthodox Church, SOC, of its assets, while Serbian officials warn that a proposed law on Church property will worsen diplomatic relations.

"Keep your hands off from our sacred places," said the headline on Monday's issue of the tabloid Kurir. Other media on Monday called the decisions of the Montenegrin government an "attack and robbery of the SOC in Montenegro".

In a brief comment on Saturday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he would not fuel the tense situation any further, but criticised the government in Podgorica for not respecting the "smallest thing" he asked.

Previously, Vucic said that any threat to Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro would lead to a worsening of relations between Belgrade and Podgorica.

Earlier, Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin said it appeared that "Serbs don't even have rights to holy places in Montenegro", while Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic warned that the situation could "cause severe consequences in our relationships".

In its response, the Montenegrin government urged President Vucic not to interfere in the internal issues of Montenegro.

The leading Serbian Orthodox bishop in Montenegro, Amfilohije Radovic, summoned a Church Council on June 15 in Podgorica to protest against what he called government interference in the Church and the new law on Church property.

At the centre of the row is a government-adopted a draft law that includes compiling a register of all religious objects and sites formerly owned by the independent kingdom of Montenegro before it became part of the Serb-dominated Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918.

Under the new law, religious...

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