Serbia's ambassador in Podgorica on Friday would not accept a Montenegrin Foreign Ministry protest note over an incident outside the Montenegrin Embassy in Belgrade which he condemned as inappropriate and said did not represent Serbia's official position.
That act is inappropriate and in no way is it the official position of either Serbia or its citizens because Serbia “condemns… the attempt to set the Montenegrin flag on fire,” Ambassador Vladimir Bozovic said in a press release.
Hundreds of supporters of Serbia's Crvena Zvezda basketball club protested outside the Montenegrin Embassy in Belgrade on Thursday and tried to set the Montenegrin flag on fire by throwing pyrotechnic devices at it.
Bozovic expressed his respect for Montenegro as a neighbour and an independent state, saying Serbia does not wish to interfere in Montenegro's internal affairs.
He did not accept the protest note under instruction from the Serbian Foreign Ministry, the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
In the note, the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry condemned in the strongest terms the attempts to set the Montenegrin flag on fire and attack the Montenegrin Embassy in Belgrade, saying Serbian state officials had failed to respond.
“Some statements by public figures in the preceding period bring Montenegrin diplomats in danger,” the ministry told Bozovic.
When he was at the Montenegrin Ministry for talks, the Montenegrin Embassy charge d'affaires was summoned to the Serbian Foreign Ministry in Belgrade for talks and he would not accept a protest note from the Ministry either.
On Friday morning, Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic criticised the Serbian authorities for failing to condemn the burning of the Montenegrin flag, saying on Twitter that “another non-civilisational attack on the Montenegrin Embassy and the Montenegrin flag” had occurred.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic responded by saying that “setting the flag of fire is certainly not something we can be proud of” but that “the embassy was not in danger” and that Markovic was telling “untruths.”
This was the second attempt to set the Montenegrin flag on fire in Belgrade. The first one occurred on December 27 after the Montenegrin parliament passed a law on religious freedoms to which the Serbian Orthodox Church objects.