Montenegro After Elections: "Peace Has No Price"

By , 01 Sep 2020, 23:31 PM Politics
Montenegro After Elections: "Peace Has No Price" Celebration after the victory of the opposition in the elections, Photo: AP, Risto Božović

September 1, 2020 - After the people decided in Sunday's elections that Milo Djukanovic's DPS should go into opposition, the first phase of the transition towards a government change is underway in Montenegro, marked by images that are not new when it comes to Montenegrin society, which has long been ruled by divisions on various grounds. It seems that now the people have united to remove the DPS, which has ruled the country for 30 years. Despite calls from political leaders to refrain from celebrations and provocations on any grounds and celebrate the election success with family and friends, some people have shown readiness to continue to emphasize their differences in the streets.

The outgoing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), which rulled the country since 1991, links the electoral defeat to the Serbian Orthodox Church's influence and the Republic of Serbia, expressing fears that Montenegro could change its foreign policy course under the new government. At the same time, representatives of the three winning coalitions say their basic common principles are the rule of law, expert government, and continuing the EU accession process.

The winning coalitions that will form the new government have begun talks, informing citizens of the basic principles on which the future state administration will rest.

The holder of the list of the coalition "For the Future of Montenegro," Zdravko Krivokapic, expects agreements from the other two opposition lists, "Peace is our nation" and "Black On White," so that Montenegro can get a new Assembly and Government as soon as possible, maybe in three weeks. He said that "peace has no price and no one should be afraid that Montenegro will disappear."
 
Krivokapić added that Montenegro's European path is a priority and that an expert government is needed. He explains that it was his opinion even before he entered politics. It is the best solution because when it comes to the crisis - and Montenegro has severe problems - the best and most competent people can give the best answer.
 

On the other hand, Montenegrin President and DPS leader Milo Djukanovic conceded defeat in the election. Still, he placed Montenegrin citizens' electoral will in a foreign policy context, implying a possible turn from the West to Russia.

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Celebration after the victory of the opposition in the elections, Photo: Savo Prelević, Radio Free Europe

Rallies were organized in several cities last night to celebrate the election victory, which in places escalated into riots and clashes. While the outgoing government characterized those incidents as the expressions of Serbian nationalism, the new parliamentary majority called on their supporters to postpone the celebrations and stay in their homes, refraining from any outbursts. As they said, possible incidents help only the DPS in its intention to provoke street clashes that would delay its departure from power.

Today, on its official pages on social networks, the DPS invited its supporters to a rally planned September 6 on Independence Square in Podgorica under the slogan "Montenegro first of all". Later it was announced that the DPS distanced itself from the organization of the gathering, saying that the meeting was organized by so-called "patriotic organizations".

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Printscreen Youtube, Source: Vijesti

SEC: Election results

According to preliminary data from the State Election Commission (SEC), based on 100 percent of votes counted, the current opposition, defined through three electoral coalitions, will have 41 seats in the Parliament of Montenegro. On the other hand, the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) with its traditional partners will have 40 seats. Representatives of the three winning electoral lists also called on representatives of minority nations to join the new parliamentary majority.

According to the State Election Commission data, the DPS won 35.06 percent, i.e., 143,548 votes, in Sunday's elections, and the coalition "For the Future of Montenegro" 32.55 percent (133,267). "Peace is our nation" won 12.53 percent (51,297), and "Black On White" 5.53% (22,649).

The Social Democrats won 4.10 percent (16,769), the Bosniak Party 3.98 percent (16,286), the SDP - Strong Montenegro 3.14 percent (12,839), the Albanian List 1.58 percent (6,488), and the Albanian Coalition Unanimously 1,14 percent (4,675)", as published on the SEC website.

The Croatian Civic Initiative did not pass the census, winning 0.27 (1,115), and the Croatian Reform Party 0.13 percent, or 532 votes, leaving the Croatian people in Montenegro without their representative in the new assembly.

76.65 percent of registered voters voted in the elections, i.e., 413,954, of which 409,451 were valid ballots.

Three winning coalitions: Montenegro remains on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration

Yesterday, a meeting was held between the leaders of the winning coalitions, "For the future of Montenegro," "Peace is our nation," and "Black On White" - Zdravko Krivokapic, Aleksa Becic, and Dritan Abazovic. They will constitute the future Montenegrin government and deliver the electoral will of the citizens.

The three leaders very quickly agreed on several principles on which the future government will rest. 

  • The new democratic government will responsibly implement all international obligations.
  • The new democratic government will implement all necessary reforms for Montenegro to join the European Union as soon as possible.
  • The winning coalitions agreed that the new, democratic government would be constituted by cadres who are experts in specific fields, regardless of their political, religious, national, or other characteristics.
  • The new government will be fully committed to respecting the Constitution and enforcing the law, with amendments to all discriminatory laws and bylaws, including the Law on Freedom of Religion.

The three leaders are extending their hands to representatives of minorities with the desire to together build a more beautiful and prosperous future of Montenegro, came the announcement after the meeting of the new parliamentary majority's leaders.

Leaders of the new parliamentary majority call on their supporters to stay home 

"Due to verified information that a significant number of paid provocateurs are trying to provoke incidents and unpleasant events, both in Podgorica and in other cities in Montenegro, we invite citizens to return to their homes and continue celebrating there. We must not allow any excuse for the outgoing regime to refute the undeniable results of the elections and the people's will," said the leader of the coalition For the Future of Montenegro, Zdravko Krivokapic.

Krivokapić said that peace has no price and that no one should be afraid that Montenegro will disappear. On his official Facebook page, he again asked people not to take to the streets, and announced that he would form a government in three weeks.

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"For the future of Montenegro" leader, Dr. Zdravko Krivokapić
 

On the occasion of last night's events in several Montenegrin cities, the Black on White coalition leader, Dritan Abazovic, also reacted. "Every kind of violence or provocation from any side casts a shadow over the election victory in which corruption and organized crime are defeated. That is why I ask you to refrain from that and celebrate in your homes in a dignified way," Abazovic said.

"As never before, it is necessary to preserve peace, interethnic, and interreligious harmony. Please do not allow us to jeopardize the historical victory through our irresponsibility or that of planted individuals. Montenegro is the land of us all, so let's protect each other. Civic Montenegro has no alternative! Now we need wisdom; there will be time to celebrate,"- concluded Abazović, emphasizing that there are no compromises with Montenegro's national interests. "Montenegro will not become either Serbian Sparta or Greater Albania," he said.

He said that Montenegro will develop as a civil state and that the condition of the platform around which the Black On White coalition has gathered is an expert government.

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"Black on White" Coalition Leader, Dr. Dritan Abazović, Source: Civic Movement URA

"The announcement of the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, which has so far arrested children, the elderly and priests for allegedly violating the NKT measures, to organize a rally on September 6, is a transparent attempt to raise tensions and cause riots that only benefit them as the outgoing government. They are trying to deepen the divisions, hatred, and quarrels they have generated in the last 30 years, said the representative of the coalition "Peace is our nation" and the leader of the Democrats, Aleksa Becic.

"Gentlemen from the top of the DPS, the NKT you lead has banned public gatherings. But, since you are known as people who trample on Montenegro, its laws and its Constitution for personal interests, and now for personal frustrations, we must remind you that the votes have been counted. The election results are official, and that there is no need for a new count at any party rallies. Show that you have at least a shred of dignity towards the honorable people who voted for you and accept you scored well below the previous opposition's election result," stated Bečić.

He called on the Police Directorate to ban mass gatherings directed by the DPS and required by any party, "so that we can immediately start working on reconciliation of all. In Montenegro, there must be no winners or losers among the citizens. Corruption, crime, quarrels, and the mafia are defeated in Montenegro, not the voters."

People in Montenegro want peace; they want harmony, unity, and progress, said Aleksa Bečić.

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"Peace is Our Nation" Coalition Leader, Aleksa Becic, Source: mondo.me

Milo Đukanović admits defeat, he "sews" the success of the opposition to the Serbian Orthodox Church and the authorities in Belgrade

The President of Montenegro and the DPS, Milo Đukanović, said for "Newsmax Adria" that in Montenegro and the region, two approaches were opposed - a pro-Western course on the one hand and a backward nationalist one on the other, now awakened in Montenegro.

"The incidents did not surprise anyone, the celebration even less. There is always a reason to celebrate, but that celebration implies a civilized attitude towards other citizens and the need to preserve Montenegro's stability. Last night we witnessed an outburst of intolerance, aggression, primitivism who think differently, "Djukanovic said.

When it comes to forming a government, Djukanovic said, "we will soon expect the outcome and that we will receive an offer to form a government from those who will have 41 seats in parliament."

Djukanovic sees the reasons for his party's failure to retain power partly in the dissatisfaction of citizens with some policies and the manipulations of the church and official Belgrade over the Law on Freedom of Religion.

"President Vučić and the current policy of Serbia have shown very problematic intentions. The first is that they want to interfere in another state's internal political life, and the second is to try to revitalize the policy of Greater Serbian nationalism in the region. Both are very wrong and very destructive," said Djukanovic.

He said that the assumptions that the DPS would defend the government by all means, were not correct.

"Even today, the DPS is a force that will try to keep Montenegro on the European path. I believe that in the bloc for Europe that will be formed in the parliament, we will stand for our government's political heritage," said Djukanovic.

He said that Montenegro has a European future and that he hopes that Montenegro will reach it.

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DPS Leader, Milo Đukanović, President of Montenegro, Photo by Savo Prelević, Vijesti

European Commission on elections and post-election atmosphere in Montenegro

"On August 30, Montenegro held parliamentary elections and local elections in five municipalities, according to an electoral, legislative framework that is mostly unchanged from previous elections, in the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The elections were peaceful and competitive, with a high turnout, monitored by local and international observers accredited by the State Election Commission, European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelj, and EU High Representative Josep Borel said in a statement by the EU delegation to Montenegro.

Preliminary findings and conclusions from international observers from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly emphasize that the elections were conducted transparently and efficiently. They also note the highly polarized debate on church and national identity issues and some concerns for the ruling party's inappropriate advantage and unbalanced media coverage.

Following the publication of the final OSCE / ODIHR report and recommendations, all political actors and relevant institutions should engage in a transparent, determined, and inclusive dialogue on implementing these recommendations to overcome long-standing electoral shortcomings well before the next elections.

"We now expect the Constitution of a new parliament and the formation of a new government that will continue Montenegro's stable path towards the EU. Montenegro has made significant progress in its EU accession process. The months ahead must be used to deepen and accelerate political and economic reforms, especially the rule of law, with the next key milestone being meeting the provisional criteria for Chapters 23 and 24 in the rule of law," Varhelji said.

The European Union is fully committed to providing further support to Montenegro in the EU integration process and economic recovery after the crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus, including through the forthcoming Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.

"Freedom of assembly, association and expression are fundamental rights of the European Union (EU), which should be exercised without disturbing public health and with full respect for the rule of law and public order and peace," the European Commission (EC) said, commenting on the announced gathering "Montenegro First of All."

"We are closely following the political developments towards the announcement of the final results of the elections held on August 30 in Montenegro. In that context, we expect the Constitution of a new parliament and the formation of a new government that will continue Montenegro's stable path to the EU." A European Commission spokeswoman Ana Pisonero Hernandez told Vijesti, answering questions regarding the DPS' invitation to gather on Sunday, in high health and safety risk conditions.

The US Embassy congratulated Montenegro's citizens, acknowledged the OSCE findings, and called for peace and tolerance

In Podgorica today, the US Embassy welcomed the conclusions of the OSCE / ODIHR International Election Observation Mission on the parliamentary elections in Montenegro.

"We congratulate Montenegro's citizens on holding peaceful, participatory elections with the participation of more than 76% of the electorate, despite the COVID-19 pandemic," reads the message published on the FB page of the US Embassy.

The US Ambassador to Montenegro warned that all parties must act peacefully and avoid violence in the post-election days.

"I am concerned about reports of violence in Montenegro," said HPP Judy Rising Reinke.

"Montenegro is recognized for its tolerance and inclusiveness. The calm we saw on election day should prevail. All sides must act peacefully and avoid violence. Dialogue and the protection of minorities are the keys to democracy," Rising Reinke said on Twitter.

Source: Vijesti

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