Government and church delegations met in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica for five hours to try to smooth out their differences over the recently adopted law on religious communities.
A government press release said that the church remains firm in its stand that the law has to be changed, adding that the two delegations, headed by Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Montengro Littoral Bishop Amfilohije agreed to continue talking at expert level.
The SPC wants the law changed, claiming even before it was adopted that it would allow the authorities to seize church property. The faithful have been gathering regularly for religious processions since the law was introduced late last year.
Crkva ostaje pri stavu da Zakon o slobodi vjeroispovijesti nije u skladu sa Ustavom ni međunarodnim standardima. Vlada smatra da se kroz dijalog, izgradnju povjerenja i davanje dodatnih garancija Zakon može primjenjivati kao moderan i usaglašen sa Ustavom i evropskim standardima.pic.twitter.com/rsyx1dUDTk— Vlada Crne Gore (@VladaCG)February 14, 2020
The press release said that the government believes that the law can be implemented with a dialogue to build mutual trust and by providing the right guarantees. “Today’s meeting ended in a spirit of mutual respect with both sides saying that it was held in a constructive atmosphere,” it added.
The SPC said after the meeting that the religious processions would continue. “With a sense of responsibility to the people who are praying and defending their holy sites, honor and the honor of Montenegro with dignity, we say that the reasons why hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets for almost two months are still in place,” the Council of Episcopes said in a press release. It welcomed the efforts to find a solution in a dialogue.
The church delegation handed the government a propsal which includes amendments to the law. “The government ackowledged the initiative and said that the issue requires a comprehensive view of the law and other possibilities offered by the legal system,” the press release said.
The government delegation included the ministers of justice, culture and human and minority rights.