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Government Bill Aims To Rehabilitate Montenegro's Royal Family


Montenegrin Prince Nikola Petrovic-Njegos, King Nikola's great-grandson

Montenegrin Prince Nikola Petrovic-Njegos, King Nikola's great-grandson

PODGORICA -- The Montenegrin government has proposed a law approved by the great grandson of the country's last monarch that would rehabilitate the royal family, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

It's not clear whether the legislation has sufficient backing for approval in the parliament.

The Petrovic-Njegos family ruled Montenegro for more than 200 years, until King Nikola was overthrown by the Serbian Karadjordjevic dynasty in 1918.

The draft law -- which was approved by Prince Nikola Petrovic-Njegos, King Nikola's great-grandson -- would allow descendants of the Petrovic-Njegos dynasty officially to use heraldic royal symbols and would give them land that belonged to the king.

In addition, a new family home would be built for the royal family members in the historical Montenegrin capital of Cetinje and they would receive an apartment in Podgorica, the country's current capital.

The legislation that will be considered by parliament proposes establishing the Petrovic-Njegos Foundation, which would be given 4.3 million euros ($6.2 million) over the next seven years by the Montenegrin state.

Representatives of the dynasty could also administer "nonpolitical administrative jobs" and use state buildings for this purpose.

The government of former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic tried several times to make a deal with Prince Nikola, who insisted on "moral rehabilitation" and increased property rights for the Montenegrin dynasty.

To show his disagreement with a government offer last year, Prince Nikola refused to attend the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Kingdom of Montenegro in August and said he was filing a lawsuit against Montenegro in an international court.

Among the complaints from Prince Nikola, who was born and raised in France, was that the property restitution in the 2010 offer included too few of the some 30 properties that were taken from his family in 1918.

Montenegrin Parliament President Ranko Krivokapic joined as a mediator on the issue and the final agreement was achieved on April 15 with Prime Minister Igor Luksic's government.

Aleksandar Cilikov, an art historian from Cetinje, was satisfied with the agreement but adds that the Montenegrin government has to void all decisions by the Podgorica parliament that declared King Nikola a traitor and banned him from returning to the country.

"That has to be said publicly, politically, and with a declaration by the Montenegrin government," Cilikov said. "It has to be said that King Nikola is one of the most sacred figures in Montenegrin history."

Analysts say it is unclear how pro-Serbian political parties in Montenegro will treat the draft law, since they are thought to support the Karadjordjevic dynasty of Serbia getting more property rights in Montenegro.

"The New Serbian Democracy party still didn't discuss this legislation in the committee sessions," says Slaven Radulovic, of the New Serbian Democracy party. "I can fundamentally say that we generally plead for the rehabilitation of all figures which were convicted in Montenegrian history and we, of course, agree with the rehabilitation of the Petrovic-[Njegos] dynasty, especially because this is a very famous Montenegrian dynasty that also cherished Serbian tradition, which is very important these days."

But Radulovic adds that "the details about financial things and everything else that goes with [this legislation], we will discuss [publicly] after we consult within the committee."
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