The statement of the Chairperson of the Committee on Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Mr Radule Novović, is hereby put out in full:
"On Monday, after a break of almost one month, the bells will ring again in Montenegrin schools. Second term begins.
And we all, if you remember, loved the winter break. It started with New Year's holidays, followed by games out on the snow and winter movies.
This time, the children, as well as their teachers, could not but notice what was happening around them. In other words, a number of citizens of Montenegro reacted stormily to the adoption of a certain law, Law on Freedom of Religion, which seeks to bring order to this important area of human existence.
The goal of adopting this law is that all people have equal rights, that there be no situation for one to have more rights than the other. This is something we should have learned a long time ago in school: people are not different according to the religion or nation, but for their education and moral qualities. As I said, these things are taught in school. However, it seems that some of us did not want to learn these, perhaps, the most important lessons.
This is the reason why, in a capacity as Chairperson of the Committee on Education, Culture, Science and Sport of the Parliament of Montenegro, I wanted to say a few words to the educators in our country, to the people who are, after all, engaged in an extraordinary and grand vocation. I do not say grand by accident: their word becomes the future.
Of course, I say all this without the ambition to compromise the professional and personal integrity of educators.
Distinguished Professor Slobodan Tomović used to say at one time: "Tolerance is the goal of civilisation."
Unfortunately, we witness it these days, a number of people in Montenegro have no tolerance for others living in it. They think that they should and may be above the laws adopted by this country, that is, that they may be above the country itself.
I believe that the wise words of educators in Montenegro will be louder than the confusion that politics could have created in the minds of children these days. In fact, politics being skilfully concealed under the cloak of faith and the story of faith.
I believe that professors and teachers are forward-thinking enough to unmask the manipulation the ones they teach about life have been exposed to, in the way their conscience and profession dictate. They can make a distinction between historical facts and historical fraud. And, unfortunately, there were more than a few of those frauds in Montenegrin history.
Children need to know that a classmate is a good friend because he is a good man, not because he belongs to one nation or the other! This is how things are in Montenegro! And there can be no other way! Not in Montenegro!
This is precisely the reason I think the educators have a huge responsibility at the moment.
I am convinced that in the following days our children will be well and thoroughly explained how important unity is, how important it is for them to know that the state is built not by using conflict, but by common efforts.
Each classroom has the coat of arms and anthem of Montenegro. It is important to explain to the children that they are proudly guarded not by conflict and intolerance, but by unity and fellowship.
I call on educators to defend their vocation against politicalism and to show that they understand the attainments of the modern age, the age we live in, that tolerance and respect for the other and the one who is different are the foundations upon which we build our country. The country of Montenegro, the Constitution of which states, let us remind the pupils, that the state is of citizens. Of all the citizens, not any nation or religion in particular. And this is the basic postulate on which modern Montenegro rests. If we do not teach our children about this, both as teachers and as parents - we taught them nothing!
That is why in the following days you speak about our values to our future, and values are life guidelines.
In the following days you determine the direction of our future. Keep that in mind.
In the following days you teach them how relationships are arranged in a smart, sensible and noble way.
You have an obligation to convey the message in the following days that there is no place for violence where people talk.
Remind your students of the words of the great writer, Leo Tolstoy: "People with low education are often insolent and persistent in their thoughts."
Our students, our children will be, and in fact are already citizens of Europe and the world. Given the habits and standards imposed by modern civilisation, some of them may live in one or more other countries during their lifetime. But we all have only one homeland. This is the one we were born into, the one we love the most all our lives. Whose sky, sea, rock and mountains are part of us. Which provide the strength for us. We have to tell our students that. Because that is the truth. Just like it is true that Montenegro is in many ways unique. Not only when it comes to history and geography, but also harmony and fellowship and the centuries-old companionship of all its citizens, no matter what place of worship they go to.
Montenegro is now making a civilizational swerve. It is not the first time that various forces have joined to prevent a country from taking that step forward, to try and hold it back, or even to return to the past, into dark and troubled days and years.
But, " God gives power to those who always strive!". That is why it is important for you to tell our children that today they live in a stable and secure state that is capable of resisting the challenges that are being imposed on it both from the inside and outside. It wasn't always the case. We didn't easily get hold of what we have today. It is a long and difficult, sometimes too difficult, road behind us. Tell them that, because it is true. That is why what we have today, we must guard with great care. Some would like to take that from us, from them. We must not allow them. Never again!
We are determined, both before the past and the future, and obligated, to govern this country, for the sake of our children, the way modern states of Europe have been governed, the union of which we will soon be part of. Exactly where we need to be.
For that reason, the laws are passed, because if the laws did not exist, there would be neither equality nor justice, and where there is no justice, primitivism and violence triumph. We as a society deflect from both, building our house, Montenegro, based on the real values.
I believe that these values are understood and accepted by Montenegrin youth. It is the duty of all of us, and especially of the educators, to provide as much help, to direct them to adopt those values and to enjoy the benefits of a developed and prosperous Montenegro.
And I am certain: with them, who will cherish new values within and have new horizons before them, armed with the knowledge that you will pass on to them, Montenegro will indeed be eternal!"