Respecting the undisputed results of the parliamentary elections on August 30, 2020;
Noting that Montenegro faces violations of the Constitution and numerous laws that the ruling majority made in the first days of its governance, and that the problem is so serious that, unfortunately, it leaves no room for good democratic practice not to comment the work of the new government in the first 100 days of mandate;
Deeply aware that the basic human rights of a large number of Montenegrin citizens are already being endangered, the rule of law is being violated and the constitutionally guaranteed secularity and democracy are being jeopardized;
Considering the basic goal of our action – the strife for a civil, multiethnic and multi-confessional Montenegro, based on the foundations of anti-fascism, European values and the rule of law.
Respecting your willingness to help Montenegro in the further process of democratization and European integration, we – citizens of different national, religious and political orientation, gathered in the NGO Montenegro International, provide you with:
WARNING ON GOVERNMENT ACTIONS WHICH VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL ORDER OF MONTENEGRO AND ENDANGERED THE CIVIL AND SECULAR CONCEPT OF MONTENEGRO
- The election of eight members of the Government of Montenegro, at the session of the Parliament of Montenegro on December 4, 2020, followed by a drastic violation of legal regulations. On the day of their election, de facto and de jure, those eight ministries didn’t exist according to the Decree on the Organization and Functioning of State Administration Bodies, a specific act that defines this issue. Such a drastic violation of Montenegrin legal regulations has called into question the legality and legitimacy of 2/3 of the Government.
Confirmation of the abovementioned was given by the Government itself, which on December 7, 2020 passed a new Decree on the Organization and Functioning of state administration bodies and defined the disputed ministries with the aim of validating the previously adopted Assembly Decision, which is in contrary to law.
For these reasons, and in order to contribute to the rule of law in Montenegro, we have submitted the Initiative to the Constitutional Court to assess the constitutionality and legality of this Decision.
- The exposés of the Prime Minister of the Government of Montenegro contained, among other things, a firm promise that the Government would respect the Constitution, state symbols and strengthen the civic concept of our state. However, the practice denied it because:
– The members of the Government by a convincing majority are members of only one nation, religion and church – the Serbian Orthodox Church. So, in a constitutionally defined secular state, we have situation that in the same cabinet sit many closely related persons, persons who are business-related to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which makes the Government of Montenegro unique in Europe;
– The Prime Minister, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Justice, Human and Minorities Rights, the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, the Minister of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism, the Minister of Finance and Social Welfare unequivocally confirm their commitment and obligation to promote the system of values of the Serbian Orthodox Church. We remind you that Article 11 of the Law on Churches and Religious Communities of the Republic of Serbia, where the seat of this church is, states that: “The Serbian Orthodox Church has an exceptional historical, state-building and civilizational role in shaping, preserving and developing the identity of the Serbian people.” In practice, this determination meant and mostly means – propaganda of Serbian nationalism, which was confirmed in numerous cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, falsification of Montenegrin history, denial of Montenegrin identity, Montenegrin church, and propaganda of the concept that Montenegro should be a Serbian state. It is an ethno genocide on the soil of Europe in the 21st century. We ask you to check all these allegations and not to close your eyes to them. An additional motive should be experience from the nineties of the 20th century on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. If you don’t react, it will happen again.
– The appointment of staff in the state administration is performed exclusively by the principle of closeness and loyalty to the Serbian Orthodox Church. This, among other things, opened the problem of personnel deficit, so the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Civil Servants and State Employees was sent to the parliamentary procedure, which enables persons against whom criminal proceedings are conducted ex officio, to be in these positions – i.e. for acts such as corruption, money laundering, robbery or murder. In this way, the threshold of professional qualifications for work in state bodies is lowered many times over. This certainly cannot be a contribution to strengthening the administrative capacity of public administration, the need that the EC has rightly pointed out in several reports.
The civic concept of the state, defined by the Constitution, is not only a principle we are proud of, but it is a precondition for the survival of Montenegro, which opened all chapters in negotiations with the EU and became a member of NATO. Of all the countries in the region, only Montenegro has prescribed in the Constitution that it is a state of citizens, not a nation / people. Violation of the constitutional principle of a civil state would mean the end of Montenegro, which was internationally recognized in 2006.
- On the third day of its operation, the government issued bonds on the international market on behalf of the state of Montenegro and indebted the state for 750 million euros, without carrying out the legally prescribed procedure (secretly, without a decision, published public invitation, issuing a prospectus).
In the Exposé – the Prime Minister announced a procedure for new state borrowing in the amount of EUR 500 million, which is a serious violation of the Constitution of Montenegro and the Law on Amendments to the Law on Budget of Montenegro for 2020. Namely, with this Law, the new Government was authorized to carry out the borrowing procedure up to the amount of 338 million euros. Pursuant to Article 82 of the Constitution of Montenegro, item 18, the decision on announcing loans and deciding on indebtedness of Montenegro is made by the Parliament of Montenegro. It is clear from the above that the new Government acted contrary to the Constitution and the Law of Montenegro on this occasion as well.
We initiated the appropriate criminal-legal procedure, having in mind the course of the procedure, its secrecy, non-compliance with binding regulations. Above all, because such illegal behavior is becoming the manner of the new government.
- The new majority promised that there would be no revanchism, but in practice that is not the case. Government representatives meet in secret with senior security officials and, after the meetings, submit press releases on their dismissal. The undisputed right of the Government is to appoint or elect the heads of some bodies, but it has to be done in accordance with a clear legal procedure. Media editors, journalists, members of governing bodies and bodies in state institutions are invited to resign, in order not to conduct legal proceedings. This violates basic human rights of these people and puts media and other types of pressure on them. This way is more in line with the practice of court-martial than the practice of democratic authorities in the 21st century.
-The Prime Minister and members of the Government did not react with a single word or gesture, or called for the tolerance of their supporters who for three days intimidated people in the streets, celebrating the new government in anti-civilization, anti-Montenegrin and anti-state manner – carried only Serbian flags, spread hate speech and slogans over which Europe and the whole world was horrified in the 1990s and which led to a bloody war in the former SFRY. The target of such behavior are not only the Montenegrin, but also Bosniak, Albanian, Croatian and other nations – the citizens of this country. The call for respect for the state, its symbols and its citizens is what the new government is obliged to do by the Constitution, laws, as well as the Agreement that they signed and undertook the mentioned obligations. But the Agreement seems to be just a mask for the international public while in practice everything is different.
We would like to inform you that in order to protect basic human rights, we have initiated appropriate proceedings before the competent authorities.
- Thanks to the Prime Minister and the mentioned ministers in the Government of Montenegro – the Serbian Orthodox Church acquires rights by which other organizations, communities and citizens are discriminated. This is most convincingly confirmed by the new Measures to Combat Covid 19 adopted by the Ministry of Health on the second day of the Government’s work. These Measures violated the Law on Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases, because they were passed in contrary to this Law, without the obligatory recommendation of the Institute of Public Health. The measures prohibit all public gatherings in indoor and outdoor facilities and housing facilities, but allows those gatherings in religious facilities with the application of some minor epidemiological measures. It should be noted that all other religious organizations operating in Montenegro, except the Serbian Orthodox Church, have already made decisions to suspend religious activities much earlier, in order to contribute to the fight against the pandemic. The mentioned measure thus, practically, refers exclusively to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.
- The Minister of Justice and Human and Minority Rights announced amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion under an urgent procedure and in a way that the Serbian Orthodox Church is declared to be a traditional religious community in Montenegro, which is a historical falsification with, potentially, inconceivable consequences.
The law, as you know, was passed a year earlier and was the subject of a litigation revolt led by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Everything that the international public criticized in the process of passing and voting on this Law is now repeated in a more brutal form.
– there is no working group that prepares amendments to the Law, there is no inclusiveness, practically only one interested party is involved and the registered Montenegrin Orthodox Church is completely excluded.
– the urgency of the procedure was announced, which excludes public discussion and excludes submission to the Venice Commission for the opinion.
We therefore call on you to apply the same criteria and approach now, as you applied them in the law-making process, and ask the new authorities to do what you and the Venice Commission insisted on earlier: inclusiveness, public debate, exclusion of discrimination, transparency in work.
Unfortunately, the situation we are facing requires an urgent response in order to protect the civil and secular structure of Montenegro, the basic human rights of the majority of Montenegro, and the rule of law on which the European future of our country depends.
We Montenegrins, although some of us are completely non-partisan, and even outspoken critics of the former government led by the DPS, are now afraid of our own survival in our country. We know the results of an aggressive pro-Serbian policy that advocates the idea of Serbian unity and aggressive pan-Slavic Orthodox Christianity. We have seen these policies at work first in Bosnia, Croatia, and then in Kosovo. The warlords and pro-Serbian politicians were supported and blessed by the Serbian Orthodox Church as they committed the most horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity. Hundreds of thousands of displaced and killed people. Whole generations destroyed. Financially, emotionally and physically damaged communities. Today, in Montenegro, a country that is ethnically diverse and has provided a safe place for all cultures and citizens since the end of the Bosnian war, a country that has opened its doors to Serb refugees from Bosnia and Kosovo, we face the violence of a mob threatening the streets. shouts slogans “Kosovo is Serbia” and calls for a new Srebrenica.
Please do everything, use your authority and influence, to stop the evil that has loomed over our country, until it is too late. Because, Montenegrins of all faiths and nationalities:
- Will not agree to deny and insult the state of Montenegro, the Montenegrin Church, Montenegrins and members of all minority peoples living in it, to falsify its history, to favor a religious organization and actions and activities aimed at achieving a plan that is increasingly open in Serbia on national engineering in Montenegro.
- The current Law on Freedom of Religion, passed at the end of 2019, in accordance with positive European legislation, verified by the Venice Commission, is considered a partially corrected age-old injustice because it annuls the last legacy of the annexation of the Podgorica Assembly in 1918. The announced amendments to this Law stipulate that the most valuable cultural and historical monuments of this country will be returned to the Serbian Orthodox Church, more precisely to become the property of the Republic of Serbia for centuries and centuries. Since these are cultural and spiritual goods of the highest national value, without which Montenegro and Montenegrins, they cannot survive as a sovereign state and nation, We will not allow that!
- We will initiate all legal procedures permitted by the Constitution and the legal system of Montenegro in cases of violation of constitutional and legal norms with special sensitivity to the protection of human rights and freedoms;
- We will not ignore the harsh fact that neither the President of the Assembly nor the Prime Minister, nor the Minister of Justice and Human and Minority Rights sent any message to respect the institutions of our state, on the occasion of December 9 – International Day of Remembrance and Dignity of Genocide Victims. nor on the occasion of December 10 – International Human Rights Day. It is not an omission, it is part of the ideological matrix they represent and with which they want to change the character of our society and state.
We warn the international and domestic public of the perniciousness of the enumerated procedures for the civil and secular concept of our state, in just one week of the work of the new Government.
Do everything in your power to ensure that the preservation of democratic and civic values, and the rule of law, become the responsibility of the new government in Montenegro from now on. Please insist NOW on what democratic international administrations have been calling for years.
We draw attention to three videos about the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), its political activities and influence in Montenegro and the Balkans, as well as the new government’s ties with the highest representatives of the SOC.
Podgorica, December 14th, 2020. NGO MONTENEGRO INTERNATIONAL
For the letter in German, you can use link: https://montenegrointernational.org/brief-in-deutscher-sprache/
For the letter in Italian, you can use link: https://montenegrointernational.org/lettera-in-italiano/
For the letter in French, you can use link: https://montenegrointernational.org/lettre-en-francais/