Montenegro’s PM sets up negotiating team, invites Orthodox Church to start talks on new law

By bne IntelliNews March 5, 2020

Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic has formed a negotiating team and invited the Serbian and Orthodox Church to launch talks on Montenegro's controversial church law, the government said in a statement on March 5.

At the end of December the parliament in Podgorica adopted the church law that, according to its critics, may strip the Serbian Orthodox Church of hundreds of religious sites in Montenegro, including medieval monasteries and churches.

Following the law’s adoption, tensions have escalated in Serbia and Montenegro and in mid-February Markovic met the Serbian Orthodox Church’s top bishop in the country, Metropolitan Amfilohije, to discuss disagreements.

After Amfilohije has submitted a list of proposed amendments to the law to Markovic, they agreed to a comprehensive review of the law.

The first meeting between the government’s working group and the representatives of the church is expected on March 11.

Montenegro seceded peacefully from its loose union with Serbia in 2006 following a referendum. Two-thirds of its population of around 620,000 is Orthodox Christian and the main church is the Serbian Orthodox Church.

A separate Montenegrin Orthodox Church was set up in 1993 but has not been recognised by other Orthodox Christian communities to date. The local branch of the Serbian Orthodox Church controls most holy sites, some of which are popular among tourists and bring in significant revenue.

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