Authorities accused of being pro-Serb over its plans to amend spiritual property regulation opposed by Serbian Orthodox Church.
1000’s have protested in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica towards the brand new authorities’s efforts to alter a controversial faith regulation that has stoked tensions over the nation’s complicated relationship with Serbia.
Chanting “This isn’t Serbia” and “Treason”, the gang on Monday defied pandemic-related bans on gatherings to rally outdoors Parliament after the federal government proposed edits to the laws that has divided the general public for the previous yr.
The demonstration is the primary main protest within the small Balkan nation towards the brand new authorities that got here to energy after successful a slim majority over a long-ruling pro-Western social gathering at a parliamentary election in August.
Handed in late 2019, the regulation laid out a course of that might see lots of of monasteries run by the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) was Montenegrin state property.
However the brand new authorities, which is pro-Serb and intently aligned with the Church, is now proposing rewrites to make sure the properties keep within the fingers of the SPC, primarily based in Belgrade.
The protesters accused the federal government, which took energy earlier this month, of attempting to “erase the Montenegrin state and nationwide id”.
It was not instantly clear when the parliamentary vote on the spiritual regulation modifications will happen.
Whereas Montenegro declared independence from Serbia 14 years in the past, their histories and cultures are deeply intertwined.
Round a 3rd of the inhabitants of 620,000 establish as Serb whereas the SPC remains to be the principle spiritual establishment within the nation.
Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic, whose social gathering handed the unique regulation, has been desperate to curb the SPC’s clout in Montenegro and construct up an impartial Orthodox church.
However in August elections, his Democratic Get together of Socialists (DPS) misplaced – for the primary time in three a long time – to an opposition bloc led by SPC allies.
The DPS steered Montenegro away from Serbia’s and Russia’s affect. The Adriatic nation joined NATO in 2017 and is looking for the European Union’s membership.