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, President of the Municipal Assembly of Tivat: We will restore the trust of citizens in institutions
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.