Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro
Interview with N1 Television, Studio in Sarajevo
Recorded on 28 January 2016
Broadcast on 28 January 2016 at 21:00
Podgorica, Montenegro (29 January 2016) — In an interview broadcast Thursday evening on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s N1 Television, Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Đukanović said that he is pleased that the Cabinet he leads won the confidence vote in the Parliament and that he expected such a decision to be reached. He believes that the government during its three-year mandate has fulfilled the most important pre-election promises and that inviting the opposition to join the Government is not an extracted move.
“In my closing address in the Parliament, I reiterated what I have said on several occasions over the last few months that I am ready to review the possibility of achieving more control over the outstanding issues having in mind that a number of the parliamentary parties harbour doubts about Montenegro’s electoral system and its current practice. There are two issues – the voters list and the misuse of state resources for partisan purposes,” said the Prime Minister.
When asked “if he fears the elections,” the Prime Minister replied: “Absolutely not.”
“Let me remind you of the fact that a few months before obtaining NATO invitation I said that I noticed the crisis in the functioning of the ruling coalition. I thought it would be irrational to bring it up before the crucial national objective of Montenegro in 2015 is accomplished. I also said that once the invitation is extended, I am willing to resolve the crisis in the elections,” PM Đukanović noted.
The Prime Minister of Montenegro said that in line with the new rules Montenegro will be ready for the elections in September at the latest and that “there is no dispute about it.”
“Until then, my conscience tells me to do what I can, namely to face a vote of confidence in the Parliament and, as we have already said, the Government won the confidence. I found it necessary to invite the parliamentary opposition parties to join the Government. I repeat, this is not an extracted move. I have often said that I do not agree with the opposition’s claims that elections in Montenegro were irregular and that there were electoral frauds. The fact is that all elections in Montenegro have been supervised by the OSCE and Council of Europe. Their final reports confirmed the regularity of all Montenegro’s elections. Therefore, I think it is about weaknesses of elections losers who do not want to confront their shortcomings. Instead, they try to make the ambiance responsible for their defeat. It is in common interest to eliminate doubts,” Prime Minister Đukanović underscored.
Answering a question on whether the offer of four ministerial positions “means more than the opposition expected,” Milo Đukanović stated he does not think so, as the opposition was expecting the prime minister’s position and the entire government. A part of the opposition, that is, the Democratic Front, in the Prime Minister’s words, wanted to achieve the objective in a violent manner.
“As you recall, we stopped the violence in late October. After that, the second part of the opposition made a request – a transitional government they would establish by themselves, which means coming to power without elections. It is not logical especially when we have regular elections ahead of us, the elections finally certified by the OSCE and Council of Europe. But instead of all this, if you really have doubts and if you want to find out what it is all about when it comes to national resources, join the Government,” said Prime Minister Đukanović.
The Prime Minister said that because of the nature of his closing address, he did not want to elaborate his offer in detail, but to leave something to be heard during the negotiating process that will be continued in the coming days.
When asked whether his offer “somehow managed to quarrel opposition,” the Prime Minister said that the argument that “the Democratic Party of Socialists’ power rests on division and quarrels” could be heard during the parliamentary debate.
“I really do not think this is the case. The Democratic Party of Socialists has never dealt with the issues of any other party. We have got enough of my own problems and unanswered questions that we need to solve rather than to deal with issues of organisation and functioning of the opposition. Therefore, it is not our intention to pulverise the opposition or seek a new partner and exclude the existing one. Our former partner sent itself into the opposition,” the Prime Minister of Montenegro stressed.
Commenting on the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) motives for deciding to “leave the ruling coalition in this very moment,” Mr Đukanović said he would not like to make assumptions.
“I relied on facts, and those facts are: the Social Democratic Party, as an integral part of the ruling coalition, said that this Government “has lost its political legitimacy”, therefore, that it is a “technical Government”. I said: OK, let’s get an invitation to join NATO and we will check it out. And as a responsible politician, I asked for a vote of confidence in the Parliament. I have previously said to the SDP: I think it is your turn to launch a confidence vote initiative, and if you do not do that, I will. Since they failed to do that, I did it. Of course, what we have already known turned out to be true: they will not support this Government. They have, therefore, decided to move into the opposition. I was absolutely convinced, based on the results we have achieved, that this Government will get the majority support.The Government of Montenegro, during its 3-year mandate, has kept a promise of leading the country towards NATO membership, conducting intensive negotiations with the EU and providing Montenegro with a leading position in the negotiations with 22 opened chapters. It has also managed to ensure economic growth which is constantly increasing, with a 3.2% average growth over the past three-year period, and initiate the most valuable development projects in the history of Montenegro, namely the highway construction. Given all this, I think that MPs are not people from other planets and that no matter how they politically disagree with you, it is hard to say no to the results achieved by anyone, including the current Government.”
Asked to comment on the claims made by Speaker of the Parliament of Montenegro and President of the Social Democratic Party Ranko Krivokapić that he “bought two ministers”, Prime Minister Đukanović said it is an absolutely groundless statement. As a matter of fact, Mr Krivokapić was overwhelmed by the emotions because of what happened after the congress of his party, PM Đukanović noted.
“As you may know, the Social Democratic Party has split into two fractions after the congress. Another party named the Social Democrats of Montenegro was founded and I should not be the one to make explanations, but if you take a look at the list of people who joined the Social Democrats you will see that one part of them were actually co-founders of the Socialist Democratic Party. I could say that people who took part in shaping political life of the Socialist Democratic Party now belong to the Social Democrats. They did not fall out from the sky, we are talking about real people with concrete political biographies, who clearly left their footprints on political life in Montenegro. And now we can see what happened. Mr Krivokapić made it clear that he wants two men from their list, or to be more precise and and say from our list because we had a pre-election coalition in 2012, to be removed from the Government. I refused to do for several reasons. First of all, I thought it is not necessary to make a reshuffle in the Government on the eve of prospective NATO invitation. Secondly, this is not about the unknown people or the people who did not participate in our electoral victory. On the contrary, they were highly positioned on our joint list and they have had at least a few decade long career at the political scene of Montenegro. As the Prime Minister of Montenegro I have the right to introduce changes into the Government’s structure. However, the Parliament has the right to dismiss the government in case it fails to meet that kind of expectations,” Prime Minister Đukanović explained.
Asked whether he expects a victory in the next elections, Prime Minister Đukanović said “yes”, voicing belief that elections only reaffirms the value of the Democratic Party of Socialists.
When asked whether he will remain as prime minister after the elections, PM Đukanović said it will be discussed when the time comes, adding that the parliamentary discussion showed that the Democratic Party of Socialists has at its disposal numerous hard-working and competent people with remarkable professional track-records. After the elections, the Democratic Party of Socialists will be honoured to see those highly motivated members of the party engaged in the governmental affairs, PM Đukanović added. He also said that, according to the recently conducted opinion polls, the Democratic Party of Socialists is supported by 45% of citizens of Montenegro and that the party has never been supported by less than 40% of citizens, although having been faced numerous challenges during all this time in power.
Speaking about Euro-Atlantic integration, Prime Minister Đukanović said that those who were against restoring Montenegro’s independence in 2006 today oppose the country’s membership in NATO. Asked by a journalist whether opponents of Montenegro’s membership in NATO are supported by Russia, PM Đukanović noted that various statements made by the Russian officials and the official documents of that country assess Montenegro’s decision to join NATO as a hostile gesture against Russia and a choice which could cause serious problems not only in Montenegro, but in the Balkans as well.
Asked whether NATO opponents in Montenegro cooperate with Russia, PM Đukanović said that he does not want to make general statements due to the respect to the people in Montenegro cherishing different political views, as well as to Russia as an important state and traditional ally of Montenegro throughout the history, regardless of current disagreements.
“Therefore, I would not make such an argument, but there is no doubt because we are talking about public statements. One part of the opposition outside the Parliament trying to destroy Montenegro in a violent manner claims that those acts are being conducted due to Russia’s interest, with the support of Russia, with a view to making Montenegro a neutral country, whose neutrality will be guaranteed by Russia. Hence, there is no room for the assumptions, as people make it all clear by themselves,” PM Đukanović underscored.
Prime Minister Đukanović reiterated the region’s vulnerability throughout the history, adding that it has repeatedly faced challenges and problems every time it stays out of global integration trends within Europe and Euro-Atlantic community. Therefore, he voiced belief that the Balkans will stop acting like being autistic and recognise European trends in order to “swim along with Europe in one direction, as it represents the best guarantee of stability and development.”
Source: Government of Montenegro