President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović, said that current protests “aren’t civil but entirely political”. He has one message for the organizers of protests who requested his resignation several times – he definitely won’t comply with such requests. In the interview for the Public Service of the Television of Montenegro, Mr. Đukanović commented on the case of the tycoon, Duško Knežević and said that “Knežević is the biggest problem for himself”. Mr. Đukanović pointed out that he wasn’t afraid and that he had never even thought of finding a spare homeland.
“Requests of those protests are political. We haven’t heard of any social request that would be a characteristic of civil protests. What should attribute a civil character to the protests is the fact that, formally, their leaders aren’t leaders of political parties but rather people who, until yesterday, were members of different parties- some of them were members of the Liberal alliance and others were members of some national parties. However, they weren’t creators of party policies, they were only participants of those policies and today, they are supposed to be a guarantee of a civil character of protests”, said Mr. Đukanović.
He added that the political idea was actually articulated by opposing parties and parapolitical structures in Montenegro.
“The parapolitical structures I’m talking about are those structures that have been organizing and promoting protests in Montenegro for years, and whose main idea has always been a violent change of government. “Vijesti” is definitely one of those structures, as well as a specific number of opposing media who are constantly trying to hide under the cloak of independent media. Their policy is the policy of creating assemblies and instrumentalizing opposition and civil activists that are supposed to do the job that represents some kind of a common objective – change of power in Montenegro”, said Mr. Đukanović and added that “this is a request for deforming the state, for the destruction of institutions”.
He emphasized that not a single Montenegrin flag could be seen during those protests.
“All this is actually a conglomerate of very different, usually political interests. I know there are people who aren’t happy with their life, with their professional or political status and, believe me I deeply respect that. But, everybody must be careful – such an idea that we’re guided by can be misused and we must not let that happen. Protest of that kind could easily become part of that protest whose ultimate goal is the destruction of Montenegro and its European perspective”, said the President.
He won’t resign
Asked if he will resign on 16 March, as requested by the participants of the protest, Mr. Đukanović said to the journalist: “I can’t believe you are serious”.
“Of course I won’t”, replied Mr. Đukanović.
Mr. Đukanović said he “is glad that some demonstrators refused to go on with protests in case their requests aren’t met since they are afraid of chaos or something similar”. That tells him that those people out there are quite sensible.
“Sensible people who are able to identify their own responsibility. I’ll say it again- it is legitimate to take part in a civil protest and present one’s own demands and request to satisfy the demands through the communication with the government. But once you are in it, you have to be aware that you are assuming responsibility for something that such protests could turn out into. Therefore, I’m happy to hear that they think so. There will surely be protests, but let them be”, said Mr. Đukanović.
The “Envelope” affair and Knežević
Protests were formally sparked by the “Envelope affair”, opened by Duško Knežević. Opposing parties invite Knežević to “stick to Instagram because citizens aren’t interested in his stories about transitional government”.
Journalists asked Mr. Đukanović if Knežević is a heavier burden for the government of opposition. He answered that Knežević is, and has always been, the heaviest burden for himself.
“He’s not the problem of the government. He’s not the problem of the opposition either. I think it’s not true that Duško Knežević managed to corrupt Montenegrin society. Knežević is obviously a man who had done some suspicious things and who is well aware that he is under investigation now and that the indictment is probably close. He asked to avoid procedure at several addresses. After he got a logical answer, that there’s no such political authority that is able to order judge or prosecutor to do anything, he decided to flee from Montenegro and to transfer his case form judicial to political terrain”, said Mr. Đukanović.
In his opinion, the picture of Montenegro as being a country of a corrupt society that is trying to be created today is the constituent part of the same media machinery that is trying to use Duško Knežević, and other Knežević people, to achieve its own goals.
“Some high-quality newspapers used to be sold here. They used to cost even €20.000 or €30.000. Today, something is compensated through portals, but not enough. The need of those who had that financial power is to, firstly, maintain that power and, secondly, to transform it into political and social power once they realize that they can’t actually maintain it without political engagement. That’s the need to be political center of power, under the cloak of independent media”, said Mr. Đukanović.
Furthermore, he believes that they used different techniques to reinforce their power or to overcome this time of crisis.
“Those arrangements were partly at the expense of the country. Do I need to remind you, that their own partner, German Vac, abandoned them with a very accurate indictment that they had left that partnership due to dual bookkeeping and tax evasion? The second model reflected in various benefits that the government granted them thanks to, I believe, honorable intentions to create conditions for media pluralism in a small and insufficiently powerful economy. Even with those media deformities we are witnesses of, the only thing that is even worse is some kind of media monopoly”, said Mr. Đukanović.
According to him, even the third circumstance has been misused – the sensitivity of European institutions in relation to the need for media independence and media pluralism.
He is not afraid of Knežević’s video recordings
Duško Knežević is announcing new compromising video recordings which he is going to publish soon. Asked if he is personally afraid of some video recording or if his party has any worries about that, Mr. Đukanović said – NO.
“I really haven’t got any reason to be afraid. I was warned that this man would start a war, inclusive of this entire repertoire, but despite that, I have never thought that it should be prevented. On the contrary, we learn to go through such experiences. It’s not pleasant, it really isn’t. I wouldn’t be honest if I told you that I’m OK with that. We all know that thanks to modern technologies, it’s possible to make a video recording, edit it anyway”, pointed out Mr. Đukanović.
The connection between the protests and the expectation of the judgment for the coup attempt
Mr. Đukanović agrees with the statement of the Chief State Prosecutor, Milivoje Katnić, who said that opposition protests “are connected with the fact that first-instance verdicts against the accused in the terrorism attempt are soon to be announced.
“I think that the Chief State Prosecutor is totally right. Among the participants of the protests, you can find a whole conglomerate of political interests. One of the most important interests is the interest of DF. They want to escape from the responsibility for what happened in Montenegro in 2016. Today, when everything is almost over and when verdicts are soon to be announced, the fear in the part of the opposition is obvious. They hope for the revolution, I think. They hope for some earthquake or some other disaster that will destroy the entire institutional system of Montenegro s that we can finally come out of the problems”, said Mr. Đukanović.
He who relies on that has weak arguments.
“A regular court procedure nears completion. And it will finish the way it has to be finished. I really don’t want to make any assumptions. I am not happy with any criminal responsibility. I would actually be the happiest if courts didn’t do anything and if we all acted responsibly. But if somebody dares to infringe national interests and interests of the citizens of Montenegro while endangering their stability and safety, well, then, there must not be any compromise”, said Mr. Đukanović.
Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro
Journalists asked the president if there’s any danger for Montenegro when it comes to the delimitation of Kosovo and Serbia. He said that “there’s no such an autonomous system that could say “you know, you won’t be affected by anything that happens in our surroundings”.
“However, I’m not stimulating paranoia. Are we the Montenegro that managed to preserve peace in the 90s? We are. Therefore, is it possible that some unfavorable scenarios are constructed here? It depends on us and our responsibility, as well as on our ability to maintain our stability, our multi-ethnic harmony and our European perspective. If we have a consistent state policy, a clear vision and enough courage to endure problems, then I’m an optimist”, said Mr. Đukanović.
Elections in Tuzi, celebration afterwards
Montenegrin president spoke about the elections recently held in Tuzi and about the celebration of the members of Albanian forum that featured the flags of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
“Obviously, they are fashionable, not only in Montenegro but wider. We see it’s a characteristic of mature, European democracies. Therefore, the historical moment has come- the moment when Tuzi has got the status of an independent municipality and when national parties got the chance to manage newly formed municipality. That’s all legitimate. Why haven’t they made a step forward to present the advantages and superiority of their political offer, I ‘m not sure. It is what it is”, said Mr. Đukanović.
He congratulated the coalition of Albanian parties on taking over the responsibility for the administration of Tuzi. He hopes that it will favor the Montenegrin multi-ethnic stability.
“Could something non-affirmative and not very appropriate be registered in that type of celebration? Yes, I think. Should we give enormous importance to that fact now and convey the message of endangered Montenegrin state? No. That would create space for those who are anti-Albanian- oriented and who would rather be categorized in national pens”, said the president.
As far as the leading coalition is concerned, it has sent a clear message – it’s not appropriate, there’s no need for that because this is the country where Albanians have always been safe and had always had complete national affirmation.
Mr. Đukanović thinks that various factors had an impact on the victory of the Albanian forum.
“The feeling of a historical moment and a very significant mobilization of Albanians from the region, I’d say. I had the opportunity to meet them. Of course, I get on well with people who manage Albania and Kosovo. My message for Montenegro in other countries- if you have any problems, say it. We will protect your dignity, equality, your rights based on European standards. But your obligation is to be loyal to the countries you chose as your home. I can’t teach you to be destructive, I can’t tell you who you should choose to be in power”, said Mr. Đukanović.
Coalition DPS – SD- BS lost a vote in the elections.
“We moved to the opposition and there are no problems. I really don’t think that Montenegro’s salvation lies in DPS controlling every part of the government. DPS has enough power, more than enough”, said the president.
He is not afraid of the judgement of history
Mr. Đukanović said loud and clear that he “is not afraid of history just because he knows that everything he did was out of best intentions and with the desire to create well-being in Montenegro.
“I believe my son shares the same opinion. I selfishly want the best for Montenegro, today and always. If you have that kind of an approach in performing public tasks, then you can call it ability. And that’s objective – some are abler than others. The history will tell how able I have been”, concluded Mr. Đukanović.