(AP Photo/Hussein Sayed | State Department)

US State Secretary, Mike Pompeo, advised the Government of Montenegro to start an open dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) in that country on the law on religious freedoms, whose recent adoption sparked strong reactions and disapproval in the SPC.

“We are encouraging the Government of Montenegro to start an open and transparent dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox Church on the Law on Religious Freedom and its implementation. Any effort to consider the validity of property demands should entirely be in accordance with Montenegrin legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights,” Pompeo wrote in a letter to Archbishop Elpidofor, the Chairman of the New York-based Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Dioceses.

Thanking the Archbishop on his letter, Pompeo said he and US President Donald Trump strongly believe that all individuals in the world are entitled to the right to openly and peacefully practice their religion.

He also said the US government has closely followed the process of the law adoption in Montenegro.

“We understand that some religious groups expressed their worries over the law provisions concerning the property ownership and legal procedures in which the disputable ownership will be treated. Although the Government is certain it entirely incorporated the proposals from the Venice Commission’s opinion on the Law, the opponents claim that the Government of Montenegro failed to hold inclusive and detailed consultations with religious organisations and the public, as recommended by the Commission,” said Pompeo, expressing the concern over “constant tensions” and “isolated cases of violence.”