A high-level European Jewish Parliament (EJP) delegation travelled to Montenegro this week for meetings with the country's political leadership and representatives of the recently established Jewish Community of Montenegro. The official visit was part of ongoing outreach efforts by the EJP to build closer ties with Jewish communities and national governments throughout Europe.
During their Montenegro visit, EJP officials were officially received by Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic as well as the country's Foreign Minister Nebojsa Kaluderovic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Dusko Markovic, Speaker of the Parliament Ranko Krivokapic as well as a host of regional leaders and city mayors. EJP officials thanked their Montenegrin counterparts for their attention to Jewish community issues and offered to assist Montenegro in its discussions with the EU regarding the future annexation process via the European Jewish Parliament's representative offices in Brussels.
Tiny Montenegro - which regained its independence in 2006 following decades within federated Yugoslavian and Serbian states - is historically one of Europe's most multi-denominational countries. It has a long and proud history as a refuge against religious intolerance and oppression. As well as Orthodox Christian, Catholic and Muslim communities, Montenegro also boasts what is one of the continent's smallest Jewish communities.
During their visit, EJP leaders raised a number of key issues with local political leaders including plans to construct a Synagogue and Jewish Cultural Centre in the Montenegrin capital city Podgorica - an ambitious initiative for which they received the support of local officials. Following the success of this groundbreaking visit, planning is already underway for an official EJP delegation to return to the country to expand cooperation in 2013.
Joel Rubinfeld, Co-Chairman of the European Jewish Parliament:
"We have been extremely encouraged by the warmth of the reception we have received from Montenegro's political leadership and look forward to further strengthening bilateral ties in the coming months and years. The EJP sees Montenegro as an important European nation with much to offer the EU as a whole. We are committed to helping facilitate Montenegro's further integration into the European Union."
Vadim Rabinovich, Co-Chairman of the European Jewish Parliament:
"Montenegro has an impressive history as a multi-ethnic, multi-denominational state. We at the EJP - and also Europe as a whole - can learn a lot from the Montenegrin experience in creating a pluralistic society where different communities and religions can live side by side in peaceful coexistence."