The Law on Freedom of Religion or Confession and the Legal Status of Religious Communities entered into force in Montenegro yesterday.
The law provides for the state to take over the property of the Orthodox Church in Serbia (SOC), that is, its churches and monasteries.
According to this law, after 800 years of existence, the SOC religious community in Montenegro as of today, experts say, has no longer any legal entity status, and its property is treated as property without an owner.
Thus, the nationalization of the objects and land owned by the SOC will start from today without compensation – by listing and registering the state of Montenegro as the new owner of these real estate, and the registration decisions should be submitted to the SOC as an interested party.
Lawyer Milenko Radić warns that, since the SOC does not have legal entity status as of today, it will not even have the right (active legitimacy) to pursue any legal proceedings in order to prove and protect property rights.
That is why, he believes, the best solution is for the SOC to insist on concluding a contract with the Government of Montenegro and thus try to retain part of its monasteries and churches through the agreement.
All open issues can be agreed in this way, because this contract would be above the law, Radić told Tanjug.
He pointed out that all other religious communities, which were registered until yesterday under the Law on the Legal Status of Religious Communities, which expired today, as well as religious communities with which the Government of Montenegro signed a treaty – Jewish, Islamic and Roman Catholic, continue to work without any hindrance and are given a transitional period of nine months to apply for re-registration.
The law was adopted on December 27, 2019, and was proclaimed by the Decree of the President of Montenegro on the same day.