Belgrade Protesters Vent Anger At Montenegrin Embassy Over New Religion Law

Several hundred supporters of the Serbian Orthodox Church fired flares, threw eggs, and chanted slogans in front of the Montenegrin Embassy in the Serbian capital on December 27, calling for Montenegro’s ambassador to be declared persona non grata. The Serbian Orthodox Church claims Montenegrin authorities might seize its property under a new law adopted on December 26. Under the law, both objects and lands of worship that belonged to the state prior to 1918 will become state property and part of Montenegro’s cultural heritage, unless there is evidence to prove different ownership. Podgorica insists the bill meets modern EU legal standards and that the activities of the Serbian Orthodox Church will not be affected. The dispute stems from widely polarized interpretations of Montenegro’s historic sovereignty and ethnic identity, versions of which are disputed by the Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbian nationalists.

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