Montenegro PM Igor Luksic_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Montenegro’s Prime Minister Igor Luksic on Saturday told Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi
Yona Metzger his country would recognize Judaism as a state
During a meeting held in the capital Podgorica, the head of
state said the Jewish faith will receive the same legal status as Roman
Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and Islam.
“I will do everything I can
to encourage this issue, whether through legislation or amending existing
regulations,” Luksic told Metzger who was accompanied by a delegation from the
Rabbinical Center of Europe and the local Jewish community.
There are no
more than a handful of Jews living in the republic but state officials hoped
elevating the religion’s status would encourage interest and investment from
Jews around the world in Montenegro.
Yasha Alfandri, president of the
Jewish community, was quoted as welcoming the declarations by the Montenegro
“This is truly an important and exciting step taken by the
leaders of Montenegro and will certainly provide a boost for the development of
our community and raises Jewish pride in our wonderful country,” Alfandri
The meetings were coordinated by Rabbi Levi Matusof, director of
the European Jewish Public Affairs in Brussels.
In recent years there’s
been several states in the Balkans that have showed an interest in reviving
local Jewish communities that have existed in the region since
Macedonia has helped fund a Jewish museum in its capital
Skopje, Greece’s Thessaloniki has highlighted its rich Jewish heritage to
attract tourists and businesspeople, and last year, Albania appointed its first
ever chief rabbi. Still, the Jewish communities in the Balkans have never
recovered from the Holocaust and their numbers keep dwindling due to old age,
immigration and assimilation.