(March 8, 2019 / EJPress) Montenegro is one of the few countries in Europe where after the war, there were more Jews than before, noted the country’s President Milo Dukanovic, who added that in the small Balkan nation “there is no anti-Semitism,” contrary to other countries in the region.
He made the remarks in an address after receiving the first-ever European King David Award from European Jewish Association chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who presented it during a ceremony in Brussels on Wednesday.
Dukanovic was honored by the Jewish group “in recognition for his huge contribution in safeguarding Jewish life in Montenegro and building a tolerant society that should be emulated across the European continent.”
The award ceremony took place in the European Jewish building, next to the European Council in Brussels, in the presence of ambassadors, members of the European parliament and other dignitaries. The president of the Jewish community of Montenegro and the country’s rabbi, Rabbi Ari Edelkopf, were also present.
Edelkopf, a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi, started the Jewish center in Montenegro a little more than a year ago. Prior to that, the country had no synagogue.
Dukanovic said the award is “dedicated to the people of Montenegro’s accomplishment of building a tolerant, inclusive and pluralistic society based on the principles of mutual respect and coexistence.”
Jews are known to have lived in Montenegro (a former Yugoslav Republic) in ancient and medieval times. The Jewish community in the country is one of the youngest in the world, having been officially registered in July 2011. At the end of January 2012, the Jewish community and the government signed the Act on Mutual Relations whereby Judaism was recognized as the fourth official religion of Montenegro.
Today, approximately 300 Jews living in the country, mainly in the capital of Podgorica. Every year, thousands of Israeli tourists visit the country.