Podgorica condemns attacks on Montenegro's embassy in Belgrade

 Montenegrin flag being burned by fireworks
 Montenegro condemned the attack on the Montenegrin embassy in Belgrade by Serb protesters, who opposed a law on religious rights adopted last month by the Montenegrin parliament.

Montenegrin authorities say the attack on the diplomatic mission in Belgrade is an attack on the independence of this small Balkan state.

A crowd gathered near the embassy, ​​members of the "Delije" fan club or in English "tough guys", attacked the defenseless object and tried to burn the Montenegrin flag on the embassy on Thursday evening.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic wrote on Twitter that the embassy attack is an uncivilized move and another challenge to the independence and freedom of his small country.

He said he "could not believe" of how the Serbian police did not defend the embassy, ​​not just on Thursday, but also during other protests that continued on Friday.

"We will defend Montenegro despite the hatred coming from the same actors, at home and abroad," Mr Markovic said.

Montenegro declared independence from Serbia in 2006. Nearly a third of the population of about 620,000 declare themselves Serbs and want close ties with Belgrade.

Led by the Serbian Orthodox Church and backed by Serbian state propaganda, pro-Serb Montenegrins have been protesting against the new law on religious rights for some days.

They say the new law enables Montenegro to confiscate church properties, including monasteries, churches and other assets. These claims have been repeatedly denied by the Montenegrin government.

The differences grew even more when the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced a private visit to Montenegrin Serbs, scheduled for January 7th on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas.

He says the Montenegrin prime minister's allegations that police in Belgrade did not protect the embassy during the protest are lies.

"We are not threatening Montenegro's independence, you are threatening the sacred monuments that do not belong to you," Mr. Vucic said.

The Montenegrin foreign minister sent a protest note to the Serbian ambassador, urging him to oppose actions against the embassy.

But Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic announced that the ambassador refused to take the protest note because it is Montenegro's attempt to blame Belgrade for the crisis between the two countries.

He added that trying to burn the Montenegrin flag is not in Serbia's favor and that it serves only the enemies of the state.

The case was also commented by the US Ambassador to Montenegro, Judy Rising.

"Attacking the diplomatic mission is unacceptable. Differences in opinion must be resolved through dialogue, not violence and vandalism,” he said.

Members of the same group of football fans, called "Delije", were the perpetrators of the attack on the US embassy in Belgrade in 2008. Police did not intervene until the crowd set fire to the embassy in a sign of protest after Kosovo's declaration of independence.

The Delije group are known for close ties to the ruling nationalist party and the secret police.
Podgorica condemns attacks on Montenegro's embassy in Belgrade Podgorica condemns attacks on Montenegro's embassy in Belgrade Friday, January 03, 2020 Rating: 5
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