Officials have inaugurated a cemetery for German soldiers killed in Montenegro during World War II, hailing it as an act of reconciliation important for the future.

A ceremony outside Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, on Saturday included a memorial service for 64 German soldiers already buried at the cemetery. Hundreds more are expected to be laid to rest in the coming months.

About 2,000 German soldiers are believed to have been killed during World War II in Montenegro. About 500 have been unearthed so far and the rest are considered missing.

Daniela Schily, from Germany's War Graves Commission, said the ceremony "illustrates the past never simply goes away."

Montenegrin government official Snezana Radovic added that it "bears the message of reconciliation ... and strengthening of ties between Montenegrin and German nations."