Podgorica: On Friday 4th December, the Montenegrin Parliament elected the new Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic. New Government is the 42nd in the country's history and the first after three decades in which President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists will not be present.
Forty-one deputies voted for the new Government, 28 were against, and one abstained in the 81-seat parliament.
In the new Government, the vice president's function will be performed by the Civic Movement 'Ura' leader Dritan Abazovic. The Minister of Defense is Olivera Injac, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs is Djordje Radulovic. The Minister of the Interior is Sergej Sekulović, the Minister of Finance and Social Welfare is Milojko Spajić, the Minister of Capital Investments is Mladen Bojanić, and the Minister of Economic Development is Jakov Milatović. The Minister of Justice, Minority and Human Rights is Vladimir Leposavic, the Minister of Health is Jelena Borovinic Bojovic. The Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sports is Vesna Bratic, while the Minister of Ecology, Spatial Planning, and Urbanism is Ratko Mitrovic. Tamara Srzentić is the Head of the Department of Public Administration, Digital Society, and Media, while Aleksandar Stijović is the Head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Management.
Krivokapic, a 62-year-old university professor close to the Serbian Orthodox Church, announced that the priorities in the Government's program would be an economic recovery, the rule of law, the fight against corruption and crime, a new antiCovid 19 strategy, and good relations with neighbors.
'We want zero corruption, it is not easy to achieve, but Zdravko Krivokapic cannot do it, this Government cannot do it, we can all do it together. If we want it, we will do it. You have already made that this Government, due to political calculations, should last 100, 200 or I don't know how many days. Believe me; it will last four years because for four years 41 (a majority in Parliament) will always be higher than 40, and why not 71 if we think good to Montenegro.'
After the end of the Assembly session, the new Prime minister said at a press conference that 'Montenegro will not become another Serbian state' and that the Government 'did not want to make concrete promises because they assume that the data they have 'is not correct.'
'The exact data is only what was found. Everything else is an assumption. We have strange statistics, which differs from certain ministries' data,' Krivokapic said, referring to the data they received from the previous Government's representatives, stating that data 'Very often do not correspond to reality.'
November 7, 2020 - The future Government is based on four key areas that are the current priorities for Montenegro. These are the rule of law, finances, education, and health, said Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic, presenting the new Montenegrin Government's proposed composition on Thursday, November 5.
He said that the model drew from the Netherlands and Finland, as examples of good practice, and that in essence, rationalization should offer an answer to the challenges facing Montenegro.
This was the message of the Prime Minister-designate in his address to the public, recalling that the agreement between the three winning coalitions harmonized the expert Government and that the executive power will not count "blood grains, nor take into account nations and religion."
There are 12 ministries in the prime minister's office, three of which are headed by women. The chief negotiator's office remains with the prime minister's office due to the importance of the EU accession process.
The Prime Minister-designate previously announced that the Government's work would be limited to 200 days to a year, as estimated to be needed to reform sectors necessary for the organization of fair and free elections:
"The Government will have 12 ministries, and for me that has the symbolism of the 12 apostles that our metropolitan (Amfilohije) constantly taught us about. We want to make a sacrifice so that Montenegro can be different, and be the right place for the life of our descendants, so that they do not leave this area, but build a common future here, in this beautiful environment," Krivokapić said.
Krivokapic plans to reduce the number of always by merging several departments into one. Public administration will be attached to the Ministry of Justice, and the departments of culture, sports, and science to the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Finance will cover the area of labor and social welfare. Two new ministries are also planned - those of ecology, and capital investments.
Krivokapić announced that it was his and his team's choice to head Tamara Srzentić the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media. Their candidate for the chief of the Ministry of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism is Dr. Ratko Mitrović, Professor at the Faculty of Architecture. The Ministry of the Interior proposed chief is Nikola Terzić.
Djordje Radulovic was nominated for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jakov Milatovic for the Ministry of Economic Development, and Mladen Bojanic for the Ministry of Capital Investments.
Aleksandar Stijović is the candidate for the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Vesna Bratić is the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Jelena Borovinić Bojović is the Minister of Health, Vladimir Leposavić is the Minister of Justice, Minority and Human Rights, and Milojko Spajić is the Minister of Finance and Social Welfare. The Ministry of Defense is not yet staffed," Krivokapic said.
Krivokapic said that the Government is based on seven pillars. Five are related to work on European integration - the first pillar is the green economy, the second is digital transformation, the third is regional cooperation and connectivity, and the fourth is improving competitiveness.
"As a rule, the fifth pillar is not so defined, but we want to show an outstanding attitude towards all social problems, and so we called it social protection. That sixth pillar is known as equal socal opportunities and the seventh pillar good governance, with which we want to start the process of integration towards the EU, "said the Prime Minister.
He believes, as he said, that the Police Directorate should not be an independent body and that it should return to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior.
"I hope that with this model and the choice of these professionals, Montenegro will be different, not to look at who is what and not to examine his blood line, but to measure the results of our actions," said Krivokapić.
Reactions of coalition partners to Krivokapic's proposal to form a new government
After hearing the Prime Minister's proposals at the meeting of the winning coalition party leaders, which was held in Podgorica, there were reactions from his coalition list Together for the Future of Montenegro.
"The government proposed by Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic is an experimental autocratic, theocratic one," said the Movement for Change (PZP) leader Nebojsa Medojevic. He added that the candidates for ministers are unknown persons, without any experience and references, and that everything is, as he stated, "a great betrayal of the people and a dangerous game to play with the fate of the state."
After the meeting with Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic, the leaders of the Democratic Front, Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic did not hide their dissatisfaction.
"The Prime Minister-designate proposed a composition where authentic representatives of the Serbian people cannot hold any public office. We told him that we were not interested in his candidates," Knezevic said.
"We will not allow this situation to be abused. In the end, together with our people, we will have the opportunity to change Montenegro. It will pass quickly. We will have free elections," stated Mandic.
After the meeting, URA leader Dritan Abazović announced that the Government's proposed concept is close to the principles that URA stands for, and later the proposal of Zdravko Krivokapić was supported by the party bodies of URA.
"The objection remains that the proposed composition of the Government did not respect Montenegro's diversity of identity, more precisely that there are no members of minority nations and that there is a lamentably low number of women in the composition of the Government. However, we believe that these two principles will be more respected in the in-depth structure of the Government," stated the Presidency of URA. The Presidency also supports Dritan Abazović to be the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.
Democratic Montenegro, which won 9 parliamentary seats in the August elections, has not yet made a public statement on the new Government's proposal.
The day after the elections, on August 31, the leaders of the three winning coalitions, Zdravko Krivokapic, Aleksa Becic, and Dritan Abazovic, announced the principles on which the future Government will rest. Among which was the direction "that the government will be expert, constituted by experts in specific fields, regardless of their political, religious, national, or any other characteristics."
Krivokapić sent a request to the Assembly to hold a session. "I expect that a session of the Assembly will be organized as soon as possible, at which I will present the program as Prime Minister-designate and propose the composition of the new Government of Montenegro," Krivokapic wrote on his Twitter account.
Becic: Montenegro remains committed to the fundamental values of the united nations
October 27, 2020 - The President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Aleksa Bečić, met today with the heads of United Nations agencies resident in Montenegro - the acting UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Daniela Gašparikova, UNICEF Representative Juan Santander, Head of IOM’s Montenegro Office Dušica Živković, and Head of WHO’s Montenegro Office Mina Brajović.
Congratulating the United Nations on its 75th anniversary, Bečić emphasized that Montenegro remains committed to the fundamental values of the UN, the affirmation of effective multilateralism, open cooperation and to the strengthening of partnerships with the UN. He added that he expressed his gratitude for the continuous support to Montenegro and the engagement of the entire UN system in the country in response to the consequences of the pandemic.
Concluding that the Assembly is expected to be a factor in the unification, cohesion and aligning of Montenegrin society, Bečić pointed out the openness of the national parliament to continuing cooperation dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Representatives of UN agencies informed Bečić of the key priorities in the upcoming period and expressed readiness to continue cooperation with the Parliament and the competent parliamentary working bodies through future initiatives.
Gašparikova wished the President of the Assembly a successful upcoming term of the new legislature.
"Parliament has a vital role to play in strengthening inclusive political dialogue, which ensures the preservation of dignity and respect for diversity of opinion. I believe that the parliament will carry out its role in shaping the future democratic reform processes in the country through the engagement of a wide range of governmental and non-governmental partners, dealing with issues of vulnerable groups to ensure that no one is left behind," Gašparikova said.
Government approved for kotor: Jokic - Head of municipality, Vuksic to lead municipal assembly
October 27, 2020 - The Democrats, ZBK and URA are to form the new local government of Kotor with a combined majority of 17 councilors in the local parliament, which consists of 33 councilors.
Leaders of the electoral lists of the Democrats, the coalition "For the Future of Kotor" (ZBK) and the Civic Movement URA from Kotor, today signed the Principles of Joint Action and the Coalition Agreement on Joint Exercise of Local Government in the city.
According to these documents, the Democrats, ZBK and URA will form a new local government in Kotor, as these three groups have a majority of 17 councilors in the local parliament, which consists of 33 councilors.
In the local elections held on August 30, the Democrats won nine seats, the ZBS coalition seven, and the URA one seat.
In addition to the aforementioned, the new parliament of Kotor, which held a constitutive session on October 20 and verified the mandates of the newly elected councilors, includes 12 representatives of the DPS, and one councilor each from the SDP, SD and Socialists of Montenegro.
The negotiations between the three factions that will form the local government in Kotor have, over the last two months, occasionally fallen into crisis, but in the end a compromise was found that met the interests of all parties.
Therefore, tomorrow at the continuation of the constitutive session of the Municipal Assembly, the holder of the electoral list of the ZBS coalition, lawyer Dejan Vukšić, voted in by the newly-formed majority, will be appointed President of the Municipal Assembly of Kotor, and on Friday at the first regular session of the new Municipal Assembly, holder of the Democrat electoral list, Vladimir Jokić, will be appointed again as Mayor.
He returns to the position after a year and four months, as he was removed as Head of the Municipality by DPS, SD, HGI and LP councilors, joined by SDP councilor Bruna Lončarević, at a Council session held on July 8 last year.
The SDP previously removed the local Kotor government of the Democrats, DF, SDP and URA in April, and their councilor Lončarević voted for Jokić's removal for the first time with the previous opposition, gathered around the DPS.
The first decision on the removal of Jokić from April, was overturned very soon after by the Administrative Court.
October 19, 2020 - Montenegro has welcomed this year’s European Commission report in a better mood. Not because the administration (or citizens) hoped for better grades as a result of hard work in the past year and a half, but because the country is waiting for a new government, the first without Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) in 30 years. All eyes are on this new government, which must take at least some important steps to speed up the country’s path towards EU membership. However, many challenges lie ahead for it, at least when it comes to what is stated in this year’s EC report, writes politologist Jovana Marović for the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group- BiEPAG.
The Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) is a cooperation initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) and Centre for the Southeast European Studies of the University of Graz (CSEES) with the aim to promote the European integration of the Western Balkans and the consolidation of democratic, open countries in the region. BiEPAG is composed of prominent policy researchers from the Western Balkans and wider Europe who have established themselves for their knowledge and understanding of the Western Balkans and the processes that shape the region.
The Commission’s assessment of the situation in the country is as expected. Montenegro has continued to make limited progress in most chapters, thus maintaining an average overall score, which is disappointing more than eight years after the opening of accession negotiations. This year has affected this attitude to such an extent that the crisis caused by the coronavirus has allowed the reforms to be put “on hold”. The negotiations themselves have been stuck for some time, despite the Commission’s new methodology presented in February, and regardless of the fact that Montenegro accepted it, even though it was not binding for the country. This is certainly a good sign, in the sense that it sends the message that Montenegro wants to negotiate under stricter conditions, but without a clear picture on either side of when this could bring significant results.
Many things are repeated in this report that also appeared in previous iterations, which on the one hand indicates a lack of progress, while on the other hand again raises the question of whether the Commission’s reports are a sufficient guide to candidate countries for reforms and whether this most visible mechanism should be even more concrete. In this report particular attention is paid to the general atmosphere and functioning of the system, as well as the situation in the country when it comes to polarisation, alongside the politicisation of institutions and the involvement of all actors in the democratic process, particularly in the parliament, and its role in democratisation. It is problematic that some scandals have been continuously mentioned in the report almost since the beginning of negotiations. The details of the DPS’ governing body session were published back in February 2013, revealing the party’s mechanisms of misuse of public resources for election purposes (known as “the audio recordings affair”), and this has found its place in every annual report of the Commission on Montenegro. In each report, the EU seeks “the political and judicial follow-up of the alleged misuse of public funds for party political purposes” to which the government is persistently turning a blind eye. The same goes for the many other scandals and abuses we have witnessed. This is mostly what any response to the Commission’s recommendations looks like in practice if it demands reactions and cuts that are in direct conflict with the party’s interests. This is also the first guideline of what should be done in the future for better results.
The Commission has maintained the practice of defining priorities for key areas, for example in the section relating to the fight against corruption, pointing out problems in the work of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption, the manner of conducting financial investigations and securing track records both in prevention and repression. In practice though, the institutions persistently respond only to some of the problems identified, while there is no link between the European Commission’s instruments and greater pressure to address and adequately respond to the burning issues. In this sense, the recommendations/priorities could be even more concrete and measurable. In principle, a clear task and an answer to it also give a basis for a stronger assessment of whether it has been fulfilled or not. In other words, this should be an important matter in the application of the new EU methodology – linking specific priorities with clearly-announced incentives and sanctions.
In short, this year’s European Commission report confirmed that Montenegro is a country with serious problems in the judiciary, the electoral system, and the functioning of the state system in general, with corruption at all levels. It is also strongly polarised as a society. Montenegro also continues to respond to these problems partially and superficially, which requires a stronger and more serious reaction from all actors in society. A more committed partner from Brussels is needed to turn things around and achieve better results.
Author: Jovana Marović
Jovana Marovic is Executive Director of the Politikon Network, a think tank based in Podgorica. She studied at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade where she received her doctorate. Between 2004-2016, Jovana worked as a Counselor for the European Union in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ multilateral department, Advisor for International Relations and European Integration within the Cabinet of the Budva Municipality’s Mayor, Research Coordinator at the Institute Alternative (think tank and scientific research institute) and Special Advisor to the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare. She is also engaged in lecturing. Jovana is a Member of the Working Group for Chapter 23, Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, within the Montenegrin Accession Negotiations for EU membership.
October 17, 2020 - The defeat of the DPS at the national level seems to be less of a surprise than the epilogue of the local elections in Tivat. The peoples' decision to place their trust in the civil lists after 24 years of rule by the DPS and coalition partners is a kind of precedent on the Balkan political scene.
Called for at the beginning of April, local elections in Tivat were postponed due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The lack of interest from the parties at the national level in the situation in Tivat, where since 2016 the DPS had had absolute power and support of coalition partners - the Social Democrats and the Croatian Civic Initiative, prompted representatives of local parties, former opposition councilors, and members of the public to organize in the coalition list. "People Win" (NP) managed to win as many as 13 of the 32 seats in the Municipal Assembly of Tivat on August 30. The Boka Forum (BF) won two seats, and the Goran Božović list (GB) one. With the minority support of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) councilors, Tivat's new government majority has 17 seats.
DPS has nine councilors, and their traditional partners - SD and HGI - two each.
At the new parliament's constitutive session, held on September 23, the President of the Boka Forum, political scientist Doc. Dr. Andrija Petković was elected for the President of the Assembly. Yesterday, at the first working session, the new parliamentary council appointed Željko Komnenović, the People Wins list holder, as the President of the Municipality of Tivat.
Professor of Serbo-Croatian language and Yugoslav literature, journalist and publicist Zeljko Komnenovic (49), replaced the mayor, Dr. Sinisa Kusovac, relieved of his duties at the same session.
Former President of the Municipality, Dr. Siniša Kusovac, and the New Major of Tivat, Željko Komnenović, Photo by Siniša Luković
"I accept these duties with great seriousness, responsibility, and humility, above all towards the brave citizens of Tivat who showed great heart and determination in the elections on August 30 to take the fate of their city into their own hands. This is the beginning of a new era that we will create and trace together. The future must be the same for everyone, a future for our children, and a city of equal opportunities for all its citizens," said Komnenovic. "Tivat on August 30 voted against centralism, corruption, crime, nepotism, partitocracy, hopelessness and minority domination over the majority," said Komnenović, accepting the position of mayor.
"Although unexpected, you won an unprecedented victory and brought freedom to all of us. The biggest task is just beginning, and the coalition government of NP, BF, GB, and SDP will bring long-awaited justice to the citizens. We will conscientiously and responsibly manage the Municipality and the city's resources, take care of all our citizens and their interests. Our common goal is a rationalized and efficient local government that will solve citizens' problems and needs. In the further development of Tivat, we will try to use all the potential of our city, reduce bureaucracy, protect the rights of local people, and start more intensive cooperation between Boka cities. We will also ensure fair cooperation to investors who are implementing projects here," Komnenović pointed out, adding that the local government "should never again be enslaved to the interests of party headquarters, interest groups and captured institutions."
New Major of Tivat, Željko Komnenović, Photo by Siniša Luković
The new parliamentary majority previously proposed and adopted the decision on dismissing the President of the Municipality of Tivat, Dr. Siniša Kusovac. In the new parliament's long first working session, the new majority explained in detail that Kusovac did not ensure the implemention of the Strategic Development Plan of Tivat 2019-2023, whereby about thirty projects outlined in the document did not make it off the drawing board.
Kusovac also caused significant material damage to the city by signing an illegal contract to waiver 5.6 million euros of utilities to Porto Montenegro, "forgetting" almost two million euros of city money in the bankruptcy-affected Atlas Bank, and non-implementation of the court verdict in the "Dalmacijavino" affair, reads the proposal to dismiss the former mayor, Dr. Siniša Kusovac.
Dr. Andrija Petković (BF), the new President of the Municipal Assembly of Tivat, says for Total Montenegro News that he will be 100 percent committed to the radical changes in that area that all three winning civic lists announced in their election programs.
Dr. Andrija Petković, Source: Municipality of Tivat
By education a political scientist, active in political and social life, Dr. Andrija Petković is a long-term journalist, who has been on several occasions professionally engaged in public relations in the state and local administration, as well as in the private sector. He worked as a lecturer at the Faculty of Mediterranean Studies, and in recent years as a sports editor and presenter at Radio Tivat. He has published six collections of poetry. In the previous convocation of the Municipal Assembly of Tivat, he performed the function of councilor.
TMN: For a long time, and especially over the last four years, the assembly hall was not a space for constructive discussion and agreement on issues of importance for the city, but a body for confirmation of decisions that were often made contrary to the interests of Tivat and its citizens. They have shown in the elections that they want changes. They are expecting them now. Do you think that it is the Assembly's responsibility to restore citizens' trust in local institutions as their service? If so, how do you intend to achieve this?
First of all, I must point out that it is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to perform such an important function, first of all, from the people from the Boka Forum and then from our coalition partners. Of course, the responsibility is, therefore, all the greater since we all need to be aware of what moment we are in. Two viruses have hit us - one is the current COVID19, to which the whole world has no answer. For the second virus, the citizens of Tivat found a solution on August 30, and that is the virus DPS-SD-HGI rule, which destroyed the municipal coffers. From one of the wealthiest municipalities in Montenegro, they have put us in a situation where we have to fill a significant budget hole, so much so in fact that it sometimes seems to be bottomless.
You are right- the parliament was often a place where decisions were made that were contrary to the interests of Tivat's residents, especially those of the local population. They helped the Podgorica bureaucracy and satisfied the interests of private investors. This statement also contains the answer to your questions on how to restore citizens' trust in the system's institutions. The citizen must recognize that the decisions made in the future result from professional planning to solve the problems that have accumulated. The outcome will be an improvement in the quality of life of all members of our community.
I think the Assembly is just a small screw in the whole thing, to call it a "complex." Admittedly - an essential screw, from which that trust begins. Reasonable dialogue, constructive discussions, offering different solutions for the situations in which we are, and finding ourselves, by ignoring to the extent possible party attitudes and differences, and eliminating all petty individual interests. From the porter to the President of the Municipality, everyone must make sure that the public has no doubt that we are here to work in their interests. They must be made to feel welcome in the town hall by the people they pay to do the job.
However, there must be a change in the opposite direction as well. We hope to attract higher quality and much broader participation of citizens in public debates. We expect them to bring proposals that will not have anything to do with vested interests. And perhaps most importantly - corruption starts not from the public office but from the citizen who brings the bribe. That is the most important thing to overcome.
Dr. Andrija Petković and Dr. Dritan Abazović, the President of the Civic Movement URA and the Leader of the Coalition list Black on White, Source: Boka News
TMN: Do you think that the previous government had good cooperation with investors, primarily Luštica Development and Adriatic Marinas? Representatives of all three winning lists often thematized the last local government's moves, which in their opinion, were not in line with the best interests of Tivat and its citizens. In your opinion, is there a need to legally analyze this cooperation?
It depends which angle you look at. If we mean satisfying the needs of foreign and domestic investors and realizing the interests of individuals from the parties that made up the government, then that cooperation was exceptional. And if you mean bringing benefits to the local population and progress to the city, then Tivat did not get anything or at most received many times less than what was offered. Somehow all these everyday, local interests were left aside. On the flip side, every, even the slightest desire of the companies, was treated as an order. There are numerous examples. I'm not just talking about irrigating a golf course or forgiving a debt of 5.6 million euros, nor just about the most significant projects. I am also talking about smaller investments and everyday omissions which, until their appearance in an accessible public space, and even down to the smallest detail, were branded with an iron lock. We will not allow that anymore. For the new government, both at the state and local levels, the task is to find and launch all legal instruments to act in that direction.