Billboards put up by Budva authorities celebrating “the so-called liberation in 1918 by the Serb army in Budva, on Mitrovdan,” have stirred spirits in the state. “Political and historical strife” has been ongoing for days. Those with pro-Montenegro orientation say this is a scandal, provocation, a strike against constitutional order and a mocking of Montenegro sovereignty, nation and state. They have no dilemma – billboards must be removed immediately as they glorify occupation, and those who authorized them need to be punished. Criminal reports have been filed by the Montenegro Movement, who reported all those who set them up.
On the other hand, those who support the thesis of a liberation in 1918, state the billboards to no intend to create divisions, but to unite Montenegro. CDM asked for a comment from Dragan Krapović, Budva District President from the Democratic Party. However, he excused himself as being away and declared he would give a statement next week, upon his return.
In the absence of Krapović’s stance towards this, council president of the Montenegro Orthodox Church Stevo Vučinić sent a clear message: “These billboards are a brutal form of media occupation of Montenegro, used by those in the Budva District who procured them to mock Montenegro sovereignty, state and nation.
Vučinić rated they literally glorify occupation, executed by Serb troops on Mitrovdan, 8th November of 1918 and the following days. “Enticed by the bolstered opposition, supported by Russia, Serbia and Republika Srpska, this is a type of war act of Budva District against Montenegro. It would not be wise for the government not to respond to such a challenge with appropriate legal and political answer. These billboards entice and distend hatred towards Montenegro citizens. They are being indirectly denied a right to a state and part of its territory. It’s not just billboards, but also public statements of opposition leaders, who are responsible for this, publicly calling on resistance to the Montenegro state. The goal is to bring the country into a state of chaos, in order for foreign powers to use internal support and bring down constitutional order and introduce colonial administration of Serbia and Republika Srpska,” Vučinić clarified.
Asked if he expected reaction to the billboards from political parties in power in Budva, Vučinić answered negatively. “Because all of them, except the Liberal and Montenegro Party, have focused their power against the Montenegro constitutional order. But I did expect the government, with instruments available, to explain to the enemies of the state, not only in Budva District, they must obey the laws of the land,” he stated.
“They also call indirectly and bluntly for a violent change of constitutional order. This is not new in Budva. The Montenegro state must adapt its laws to the circumstances of the modern Montenegro society. As it is obvious one part of the state administration allows itself to be governed by foreign powers, without being punished for it. Thus they hail the most traumatic events in Montenegro history, which resulted in occupation. Those same people use media and other means to mock Montenegro citizens who love their country, calling them names unworthy of people. The same goes for those who have been charged with the most serious acts against constitutional order and against the Montenegro state. This is why we demand of state institutions to urgently adopt legal solutions which will gravely sanction the glorification of all crimes committed against the Montenegro people and other peoples of Montenegro and beyond. Especially harsh sanctions must be brought against the glorification and commemoration of the annexation of Montenegro in 1918, including crimes committed between two world wars against national Montenegrins and minorities,” underlined Vučinić.
Also considering the Budva billboards unsettling is the President of the Liberal Party Andrija Popović. He stated for CDM that relevant state inspection bodies need to act urgently and remove the disturbing billboards set up by local authorities on Budva territory, glorifying the disappearance, collapse and occupation of Budva and Montenegro in 1918 on the centennial anniversary.
“They are obliged to do so by the Constitution of Montenegro, but also the law forbidding unauthorized marketing which clearly prescribes a ban on promoting deceitful advertising and sanctions. The beginning of the tourism season was not selected by accident, as well as the announcement of early local elections, in an attempt to divide citizens. Local authorities, in order to avoid potential conflict, must remove the provocative billboards immediately. Any state would do so, any state which is serious,” claims Popović.
However, not everyone shares this opinion.
President of the committee celebrating the centennial of the liberation of Budva in the Second World War and future Mayor of Budva Marko Bato Carević (of the Democratic Front) noted that billboards in Budva marking this jubilee do not strive to divide or cause conflict but to remind and untie around ideas which were once common with Serbia.
He claims over 500 Budva citizens and 1.000 of them from Bokelj joined Montenegro and Serb troops in the 1914-1918 fighting. “They did not do so just because they were caught by war on their doorstep, some came from overseas. The committee will not allow for their sacrifice to be forgotten, as their heroic undertaking is worthy of the greatest recognition,” stated Carević recently.
According to him, the event will celebrate all nations and peoples who participated in the struggle against aggressors. “As we are among them, we must not allow for modern positions to remove us from our humane duty, the memory of our great heroic ancestors. We must not allow as winners of the Great War to overlook this undeniable fact, burdened by daily political fervour as some have done lately, blind to the truth,” rated the committee president.
Those from the Budva Democratic Socialist Party are not at all in agreement with Carević. They claim the billboards set up in Budva, promoting the centennial of the so-called liberation of the town, are only one small part of the provocative activity of the opposition, with silent support from others, in the year when a full century has passed since the attempt to exterminate the Montenegro state and name.
“Above all, the content of the billboards is historically inaccurate – there was no liberation, as at the moment when the Serb army entered Budva (and Montenegro), there was not one Austro-Hungarian soldier there. It is clear that such provocations in modern Montenegro, especially since Montenegro state independence was restored on May 21, 2006, have no basis, even less fertile ground to grow on. What is disconcerting, but not surprising knowing what rotten compromises it rests on, is the complete lack of reactions from the local authorities and institutions. Of for nothing else, then to preserve the reputation of the Montenegro state and its abundance freedom and antifascist tradition,” the local DPS stated.
To recall, the coordination committee of the Montenegro Movement in Kotor delivered on Monday a criminal report to the State Attorney Office in Kotor against unknown persons, billboards owners and Budva District as the lessee, for criminal acts against the reputation of Montenegro, as well as criminal acts in provoking national, racial and religious hatred.
As they cited, the billboards in the town and along the Adriatic highway were set up by Budva District in order to glorify the occupation of Montenegro in 1918. Historical facts should not serve to gain petty political points.
Translated from Café del Montenegro, for the original click here.