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DPM Pažin speaks to BBC: Law on Freedom of Religion was adopted so that everyone has equal rights and that laws apply to everyone

DPM Pažin speaks to BBC: Law on Freedom of Religion was adopted so that everyone has equal rights and that laws apply to everyone
Published date 13.01.2020 09:30 | Author PR Service

Ispis Print

"The Government is ready to open a dialogue with all religious communities on the implementation of this law without delay. And with the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, the Government is ready to discuss the conditions under which a basic agreement could be concluded as soon as the Metropolitanate is ready for this type of dialogue," Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin told the BBC Serbian.

"No other country in our region, or even beyond, has a law that has been prepared longer and more carefully and has been consulted on more thoroughly and openly with all relevant stakeholders both in the country and abroad. This law has been adopted so that everyone in Montenegro would have the equal right to be or not to be a believer of any religion, and that the laws would apply equally to everyone," DPM Pažin emphasised. 

The Deputy Prime Minister recalled that numerous public meetings on the Draft Law have been organised since 2015, that all religious communities and other stakeholders have commented on the Draft Law, and that the representatives of the Government have repeatedly consulted all religious communities individually.

"The original legal text has been substantially amended, as the Government has accepted all proposals by religious communities that are in line with international legal standards and the public interest, and the Government has sought the opinion of the Venice Commission and included in the Draft Law all the recommendations of this expert body of the Council of Europe" DPM Pažin noted.

Deputy Prime Minister Pažin said he did not believe that the upcoming elections in Montenegro would be marked by meaningless divisions and debates over which religions and nations in Montenegro are older and more worthy. "Montenegro has had too many bitter historical experiences, both of its own and those of its neighbours, to allow such retrograde rhetoric to bring any serious political benefit to anyone."

The Deputy Prime Minister concluded that the Government of Montenegro had no reason to avoid discussions about the results of its work.

"Thanks to this state policy, Montenegro has doubled its salaries, tripled its revenue from tourism since the restoration of independence, and today Montenegro is a fully-fledged member of NATO and one of Europe's fastest growing economies. I have no doubt that citizens know very well to what kind of lawlessness and destruction the policy of ethnic and religious hatred and conflict leads. That is why I am convinced that citizens will give their trust to a policy that does not divide family members, friends and neighbours by religion and nation and that is forward-looking, committed to progress in a civic state and a better quality of life for everyone."