Opposition proposal to restore a chapel erected by Serbia's Karadjordjevic dynasty slated as another attempt to present Montenegro as “Serbian".
Reconstruction of the chapel, built by King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic of Yugoslavia on Mt Lovcen in 1925 on the site of a 19th century church, was proposed by the opposition New Serbian Democracy party, NOVA, last week.
The stated reason for the initiative is that the celebrated 19th-century Montenegrin bishop and poet, Petar II Petrovic Njegos, asked to be buried in the original chapel in his will.
The remains of Montenegro’s most famous historical figure are currently kept in a mausoleum at Lovcen, which was designed by the Croat sculptor Ivan Mestrovic and completed in 1974, some say as a “re-affirmation of Montenegrin national individuality".
On Monday, the parliamentary committee for legal and constitutional affairs gave a green light to NOVA’s proposal.
But condemnations have since come thick and fast.
This is because NOVA wants the so-called Njegos chapel to be restored according to the "Serbian", 1925 design, rather than following the original 19th-century design for the church.
Njegos first erected a chapel on the site in 1845 in the honour of his predecessor and uncle, Petar I Petrovic Njegos, and asked for his own remains to be placed there after his death.
His will was followed in 1855 but the chapel but was severely damaged during the First World War.
In 1925, Serbia's Karadjordjevic dynasty, which ruled the Kingdom of Yugoslavia from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second World War, erected a new church at the same place.
“It wasn’t the legacy of Njegos anymore, it was the legacy of King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic," historian Zvezdan Folic complained to the newspaper Pobjeda on Tuesday.
Folic said the attempt to restore the chapel from 1925 was all part of a plan to portray “Montenegro as a Serbian land".
Miodrag Vukovic, an MP who voted against the proposal, said the Karadjordjevic dynasty violently annexed Montenegro in 1918, and so the project ought to be considered illegal.
According to Vukovic, any acts carried out by the dynasty, including the construction of the chapel, formed part of the illegal annexation.
On Sunday, Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic, leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, publicly backed restoration of the monument.
Next year, Montenegro will celebrate 200 years since the birth of Njegos, who was Montenegro’s bishop in the period 1830 - 1851.