Prime Minister Đukanović comments on opposition Democratic Front’s protests in interview with Montenegro’s national television RTCG

    Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Đukanović

    Interview with Montenegro’s national television RTCG

    Broadcast: 22/10/2015 – prime time

    Prime Minister Milo Đukanović made earlier this evening a guest appearance on the talk show “In the Centre” (“U centar”) on the Montenegrin national television RTCG where he commented on the opposition protests of the Democratic Front and their reflections on the country’s political scene.

    I

    Neither I nor the Government intend to resign, because we would consider it as an irresponsible act towards all those citizens of Montenegro who had faith in us and gave us their trust in the elections in late 2012. We think that someone who is less responsible in political and social terms has the right to launch such kinds of initiatives, but in fact any contribution to such initiatives would actually be a demonstration of irresponsibility which could contribute to chaos in the country. Considering that particular approach, the Government of Montenegro held a meeting as you will remember on 1 October, a few days after the protests started in the centre of Podgorica, and we issued a response to the request submitted by the organisers: We said that the request for the Government’s resignation is unconstitutional and undemocratic and that we cannot meet that request. The government in Montenegro is based on the free electoral will of all the citizens of Montenegro expressed through the elections.

    II

    There are several motives and goals contained in that request, but, after a brief analysis, I would say that they all imply an attempt to deny Montenegro’s national sovereignty, as well as Montenegro’s right to manage its own future. Initially, the demand was articulated as a request for a change of government. It would be good if all ended there regardless of whether the request has solid foundations. However, I think this is not what the point is. We saw that during the protests the main criticism of Montenegro’s politics was levelled at our NATO integration. I think it is now a key motive, but I would say that it also is not the end. It is obvious that those who organised the protests do not want only the government to resign, but also to abolish our EU and NATO accession achievements. They apparently perceive it an as evil path from which Montenegro should be returned, but, as I said, I think the main problem they see is Montenegrin independence and this is the origin of the problem. Because after regaining independence Montenegro assumed responsibility for its own future and started creating a national strategy, national path of integration into the EU and NATO. That is why they want to abolish our path towards NATO membership, and afterwards to bring into question the independence decision reached in a democratic referendum in 2006, in order to crush the very origin of the problem they are facing today. They think that Montenegro must return to those paths which unfortunately it had been roaming for centuries, without its own national and state interests, following the interests of others. Of course, they want once again in its history to sacrifice Montenegro on the altar of the older and more numerous Slavic and Orthodox brothers. They feel this is the right path for Montenegro, but I think that would be suicidal for Montenegro.

    III

    There is only one scenario and it is based on the institutional outcome. Unless this path is chosen, Montenegro would cease to exist as a state. I do not believe in that alternative “scenario,” because it would bring chaos and annulment of everything Montenegro has achieved so far. Hence, I think there is an institutional scenario, scenario which includes conducting dialogue on all the issues related to the political and overall social life of Montenegro nowadays. And we should have that dialogue with maximum readiness of all the stakeholders from the political and social life to contribute to overcoming the mistrust and overcoming doubts existing between the “players” on the political scene of Montenegro. It is the only way for making the government more credible, more authoritative, more focused, and more functional in dealing with the issues of the Montenegrin society.

    IV

    Nowadays, Montenegro is not attacked by the official Belgrade’s propaganda. This is one of the greater achievements we have had in the recent history of Montenegro and our regional status. It was not long ago when the state politics and propaganda of the official Belgrade was the most powerful support for attacks against the state of Montenegro, such as these protests organised by the Democratic Front. But, that time is gone, and the state of Serbia suffered the greatest damage from such politics. That was the time when Serbia exposed its territory, the lives of its people, to NATO, it was the time when Serbia, ahead of the 2006 referendum, was inciting the worst possible hostility towards the state of Montenegro and its citizens. Fortunately, now all that is behind us. Now I can really commend the high-quality partnership between Serbia and Montenegro, in which I believed even at the time when I advocated for independence, and it came true, to my great satisfaction. But, as you can see, just as the state of Montenegro is not quite monolithic in terms of choosing a strategic course of its development, so too isn’t the state of Serbia. In Serbia, there are still some very active nationalistic circles, which believe that their task is to preserve the illusion of creating a future Greater Serbia wherever it is possible in the region.

    V

    Let me make a few comments of the opinions that came from relevant political addresses in the West. I believe that we all think about the press release that came from Ms Mogherini’s office as EU’s High Representative for security and foreign policy, also the press release that came from the State Department, as well as the press release that came from the OSCE. I cannot help sharing the same assessments and I cannot raise a single issue with the messages that came from those addresses, since those are the messages of genuine interest in Montenegro’s continued development in the conditions of peace and stability and they are reminders that protests are an important form of expressing political beliefs. But protests must be peaceful and they must be non-violent, with a parallel warning that the state should, through the activity of its bodies, take care of a strict legal and proportional use of authority in case the protests turn into something that could threaten violence and instability. Therefore, I think these are friendly, benevolent suggestions and advice of those that already perceive Montenegro as a part of their society, of their integration.
    From another address, from Moscow, we received some messages which, regardless of how generally and tolerantly we choose to interpret them, we cannot help but notice are all actually the messages of clear siding of Moscow, expressed through press releases of its official institutions, against the policy of Montenegro’s integration. Allow me to recall the press release that came from Russia’s MFA after my return from my latest trip to Washington, then the press release that was in fact a response by a division at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the information division, to an inquiry by a Belgrade-based news agency, and third the press release of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the day when the Communal Police, with the assistance of the Police force, has taken down the tents that made up a provisional settlement at the pavement in front of the Parliament.
    Q: How do you interpret the prompt press release, which came from the Russian Foreign Ministry on the same day when the tents and the stage in front of the Montenegro Parliament were removed?
    There is no great interpretation. It is clear that the press release was prepared in advance and that in fact the only thing that was waited for was the reaction, which was logical and expected, and, although it apparently was not expected only by those that waited in front of the Parliament for our reaction in order for them to pronounce an outset of a war in Montenegro, but it was also expected in some other places in order to communicate an opinion that, there you have it, the insistence on Montenegro’s NATO path can cost Montenegro its stability. It is entirely clear that this is the case of a serious and in my opinion unsuitable involvement into something that are domestic national policies of a state, in this case Montenegro. This however is a novel practice.

    VI

    Relations between Russia and NATO will be restored, as well as the relations between Russia and the European Union, as this is both natural and logical. This is the necessity of a future global development of peace and stability, and for this reason we do not rush into any inflammatory rhetoric, but at the same time we are sending a clear message: we chose our path, we have not kept our path secret, we have said very clearly on the eve of the independence referendum and afterwards through the Declaration of Independence that we wish to manage our own future and that this future will be European and Euro-Atlantic. In all my dialogues with high Russian officials not for one moment did I hold back that Montenegro will aim to become an EU and NATO member. Therefore, we took this path. Anyone who thinks that they could make us revert our strategic course is mistaken. I believe this is a historic U-turn by Montenegro. Montenegro has throughout its history, just as the countries of the Balkans, not been too sympathetic towards the West, nor the idea of NATO integration. Only in the years in the run up to the referendum, and especially after the referendum, did Montenegro clearly proclaim its intention to enter this civilisation circle. Not to become aligned within a military bloc, but to become part of a new value system that rests on, it’s worth recalling, market economy, democracy, rule of law, and on the safeguard and promotion of human rights and freedoms. Montenegro is determined to that end. All are mistaken who think that this position in Montenegro and the Balkans is monolithic. Not at all. We can see that these two concepts are still wrestling pretty hard. The new one and the old one that wishes to keep Montenegro and the Balkans in those backwaters which we had roamed through the centuries here in the Balkans.

    Source: Government of Montenegro