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Montenegro: Call for more religious freedom

August 2020

President Milo Djukanovic
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Two British MPs, who are normally on the opposite sides of the political divide, have joined forces to call for more religious freedom in Montenegro.

Tim Farron and Steve Baker have called on the UK, the EU, and NATO to apply pressure on the country’s president, Milo Djukanovic.

Montenegro is a small Balkan nation which borders Serbia and aspires to be an EU member. It passed a controversial new law in December that targets faith communities.

The two British MPs, writing a joint article in Newsweek, said, ‘A state-issued license is now mandatory to practice religion; faith communities’ assets require state registration, with government appointees made the decision-makers over all religious property disputes, and no recourse provided via the courts.

‘This decision flies in the face of modern, democratic parliamentary norms, the rule of law, property rights and the rights of individuals to practice their faith before God and without state and politicians serving as intermediaries.’

Tim Farron MP is the former leader of the Liberal Democrats. Steve Baker is a Conservative MP and former chairman of the European Research Group.

The pair ended their joint article by saying, ‘If we are to fight the good fight and defend the rights of Christians worldwide, there is no excuse for us to stay silent, play deaf and do nothing when attacks on the faithful are underway in Europe.’

Speaking about the article, Tim Farron said, ‘As somebody who is a Christian and wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters there, this is something we should take out of the shadows and talk about more publicly.’

He added, ‘Society is sniffy about whether Christians are really persecuted and it’s important that we remind people that, I think of all faiths on the planet, Christians suffer the greatest volume and range of persecution. And so it’s massively important that the Government engages with it.’

The former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt responded to a tweet about Farron and Baker’s article. He said, ‘Freedom of worship is a basic human right — but too often Christians are overlooked. We must defend their rights robustly.’