An interview with the Coordinator of the Legal Council of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral about systematic and continuous refusal of the Montenegrin Ministry of Interior to prolong residence permits to the priesthood, monks and nuns of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro
December 27, 2018 – In less than two months from the first detailed interview with the Coordinator of the Legal Council of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, father Velibor Džomić, PhD, about an open and systematic discrimination of the Serbian Orthodox Church (“the SOC”) in Montenegro, daily newspaper Politika published the second interview in which father Velibor informed the public about continuous, open and systematic refusal of the Montenegrin Ministry of Interior (“the MMI”) to prolong residence permits to the priesthood, members of the priests’ families, monks and nuns of the SOC in Montenegro.
Among other duties father Velibor acts as a legal representative of all priests, monks and nuns of the SOC in Montenegro. By the time of publishing of this second interview, more than 30 priests, monks and nuns, who were not residents of Montenegro, but which were residing in one of four eparchies of the SOC in Montenegro, had already been officially informed that their requests for prolongation of resident permits were refused and that they would have to leave Montenegro within 30 days.
“In previous few months we have received more than 10 decisions of the MMI in which our monks, nuns and priests’ families were refused prolongation of their temporary residencies in Montenegro issued on a basis of religious service. In total, around 50 priests, their family members, monks and nuns will be left without their permits for residence in Montenegro. Around 30 have already been left 30 days to leave Montenegro, whereas around 20 is expecting the same.”, said father Velibor. He further expressed his wonderment for such a behavior of the MMI, because in previous two years, in regular legal procedure, all these persons were permitted to stay in Montenegro on a basis of religious service.
Father Velibor noticed that in the meantime no applicable law or bylaw in this domain had been changed in Montenegro, and that this kind of behavior of the Montenegrin authorities could only be motivated by the political reasons. He could not understand why the ministry, run by the minister Mr Mevludin Huhodžić, started such synchronized action which has nothing to do with the law and facts. The legal team of the Metropolitanate appealed these decisions, but all these appeals were rejected. New claims were then sent to the Administrative Court.
Furthermore, father Velibor explained that priests, parties in these critical proceedings, could not take part in the proceedings before the decisions were rendered and were not given the opportunity to act personally and orally before the relevant administrative bodies, in which he saw brutal violation of relevant laws. As a person, well acquainted with this legal domain, he was convinced that the MMI acted unlawfully. He further stated that he could not understand why the Metropolitanate, which existed as a religious organization and a legal subject in previous two years when the residencies were permitted, in 2018 no longer exists for the Montenegrin authorities, even though nothing has changed in reality. Father Velibor openly called minister Nuhodžić to instruct his employees to act in accordance with the laws.
“We can only guess what the reasons are for this open persecution of the priesthood, monks and nuns and priests’ children, but I am sure that they have nothing to do with the law and the legal order of Montenegro. I personally think that there are more important problems in Montenegro, in particular in the MMI, than this ideological mess initiated by Ranko Krivokapić1, which has already finished as a fiasco before the courts.”, concluded father Velibor.