Serbian National Defense Council of America requests that you sincerely consider imposing sanctions against President Milo Djukanovic and the Montenegrin Government
Dear Mr. President and Mr. Ambassador:
Over the past week, Serbian-Americans across the United States of America have raised their voices in support of their brethren in Montenegro, who are now subject to an anti-democratic and authoritarian law that permits the Montenegrin Government to seize the centuries-old property of the four Orthodox Christian dioceses located in Montenegro. As one of the oldest Serbian-American organizations founded in 1914 by renowned physicist and philanthropist, Mihajlo Michael Pupin, a close friend of President Woodrow Wilson and proponent of strong relations between the Serbian people and the United States of America, the Serbian National Defense Council of America requests that your Administration urgently intervenes to protect the religious freedom of the Serbian Orthodox Church faithful and all other religious communities in Montenegro and the region.
In the early morning hours of December 27, 2019, at approximately 3:00 A.M., the Montenegrin Parliament enacted the “Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Legal Status of Religious Communities.” The law was subsequently signed the following day by Montenegro’s President, Milo Djukanovic. While the Montenegrin government alleges that the law is intended to promote religious freedom, the intention of the leading party, the Democratic Party of Socialists, is to seize and appropriate Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries to the non-canonical and unrecognized “Montenegrin Orthodox Church” led by an excommunicated heretic. Legal experts and religious leaders alike have spoken out against this law, which, among other things, allows for the confiscation of churches and monasteries constructed before 1918 that lack proper evidence of ownership. The Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of Constantinople, His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, has rejected any possibility of granting autocephaly to the so-called “Montenegrin Orthodox Church” and sent a letter of his own in June 2019 informing President Djukanovic regarding the grave consequences that the law will have on the Orthodox Church in its entirety.
Because this Administration has had the courage to promote religious freedom throughout the globe, the Serbian National Defense Council of America requests that you sincerely consider imposing sanctions against President Milo Djukanovic and the Montenegrin Government, or using any other remedy available under the International Religious Freedom Act, unless this draconian law is immediately repealed.
Nebojsa Zivkovic, President
Petko Petrovich, Secretary
Dobrana Komnenic, Secretary