European Western Balkans

Picula and Bilčík on Montenegro: Freedom of speech, assembly and religious rights should be upheld

European Parliament in Brussels; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BRUSSELS – European Parliament Rapporteur for Montenegro Tonino Picula and Chair of EP Delegation to EU-Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Council Vladimír Bilčík released a joint statement on the situation in Montenegro.

“We have followed the weekend events in Montenegro with great concern and we categorically condemn all violent acts that occurred on both days in connection to the inauguration of Joanikije II. Montenegro should uphold fully its obligations to defend the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech, while also respecting a variety of religious rights of its citizens”, the statement reads.

Bilčík and Picula stressed that Montenegro is an EU candidate country where political and religious leaders have a particular responsibility to reflect in their decisions on overwhelming support that Montenegro’s citizens give to EU accession.

“We urge all stakeholders to contribute actively to lowering of tensions in the society and to upholding Montenegro’s commitment to a modern, democratic, multi-confessional and multi-ethnic society. Political instrumentalisation of one’s religious beliefs is not compatible with Montenegro’s ongoing reform process and successful European Union accession. It reflects poorly on Montenegro’s international standing and long history of peaceful co-existence among people of many faiths and ethnic backgrounds”, the MEPs concluded.

Multiple representatives of international community already called for peace and restraint in Montenegro following the weekend filled with tensions and violent protests against the enthronement of Metropolitan Joanikije in Cetinje.

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