Faculty of Law, University of Kosovska Mitrovica
INTERNATIONAL LEGAL CONTINUITY AND THE LAW ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION
Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral has eight centuries of continuity within the Serbian Orthodox Church. Saint Sava founded the Eparchy of Zeta in 1219. Following the collapse of the Serbian Empire, the last medieval Serbian Orthodox rulers from the Crnojević dynasty, after 1346, relocated the seat of Zeta Eparchy, or Metropolitanate, to Cetinje, where, in 1484, they also built a monastery. Up until 1766 and the abolition of the Peć Patriarchate by Sultan Mustafa III, metropolitans or bishops of Cetinje were consecrated in the Patriarchate of Peć. After 1776 and up to the beginning of the twentieth century, the Metropolitanate remained the only part of the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć not recognizing the authority of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The clearest evidence of this is the title of the Exarch of the Throne of Peć held by the Metropolitans of Cetinje ever since 1750. After 1922, when a tomos was granted by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Peć as a whole was restored with the Metropolitanate as its integral part. On the other hand, the modern state of Montenegro does not have international legal continuity with the medieval Zeta of the Crnojević dynasty or with the state which, in 1484, built Cetinje Monastery as the present-day seat of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral. Legal theory shows us that there is no international legal continuity between the medieval state of the Crnojević dynasty and modern Montenegro. After the fall of Zeta in 1496, there was no independent and internationally recognized entity in the territory of present-day Montenegro up until 1878 as the year of the Congress of Berlin. Hence the incorrectness of the claims by means of which the current Montenegrin leadership is trying to justify the enactment of the illegal and illegitimate 2019 Law on Freedom of Religion, according to which there have allegedly been a thousand years of uninterrupted continuity of statehood. Based on such inventions, it is argued that there has allegedly been an autocephalous Montenegrin Orthodox Church ever since the time of the Crnojević dynasty. Articles 62 and 63 of the Law on Freedom of Religion have been passed precisely in that context. The purpose of these articles is to allow for an illegitimate and illegal seizure of Serbian Orthodox Church property in Montenegro based on the invention of alleged statehood continuity.