URA is the most dangerous member of the ruling coalition, because it has a chameleon nature. It is advertised as a pro-Montenegrin, pro-European and environmental movement, while in reality its anti-state policy does not differ from the DF, and its demagogic-populist ideology from the Democrats. URA gives crucial support to the officials and supporters of the parties that are fighting for the creation of the “Serbian world” to be assigned to most of the most important positions in the state sector, says in an interview with Weekend newspaper the historian, MP of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), Dragutin Papovic.
When asked about overcoming the political crisis, and the possible unification of political entities that are pro-European, civic-oriented, Papovic said very clearly that “pro-European and at the same time pro-Montenegrin forces are in opposition”, and that early parliamentary elections are the only democratic way out of the crisis.
Until then, as he says, the citizens will have to endure what they mostly chose on August 30.
Mr. Papovic, as the entire region rose to its feet following messages from Serbian officials led by Aleksandar Vulin that the “Serbian world” was their task, the Montenegrin government was calm. In a recent controversy with you, its vice president Dritan Abazović even stated that we should all be calm because of the statements of Vulin, Mandić… Why Abazović is so relaxed and carefree while our Western partners are increasingly pointing out the danger of the Serbian great state project in the whole region, especially BiH and Montenegro?
Papović: The Deputy Prime Minister tolerates and supports the idea of the “Serbian world” because he is in a coalition with its creators and implementers. Being in a coalition with the DF is the same as being in a coalition with Aleksandar Vučić and Aleksandar Vulin. Abazovic knows that the “Serbian world” is just a new name for the old Greater Serbia nationalist policy aimed at destroying Montenegrin statehood.
Behind the relaxed mask, Abazović knows that this is not a dead issue of the past, but a living policy of the authorities in Serbia and Montenegro. However, Vučić and Mandić enabled Abazović the position of the one and only Deputy Prime Minister, and he is in a conscious, pragmatic and harmonious coalition with Vučić and Mandić. Abazovic used that to become the main perpetrator of injustice in Montenegro. He decides who is suspicious, who will be arrested, and who will be convicted. Abazovic tolerates and helps the leaders of the “Serbian world” due to the huge desires of the ruling party.
Papović: They gave him unprecedented power, and he gave them the state of Montenegro. It is a simple political trade. “Our Western partners” as you call them, knew from the beginning what the “Serbian world” was and supported the supporters of the “Serbian world” to come to power, and now they warn of the danger. It is just not clear whether they are warning themselves or those who have said from the beginning what the goal of the lithium and their “dear metropolitan” was.
You have openly called GP URA several times, accusing this political entity that it is a Trojan horse of the “Serbian world” and that it is the creator of the “cataclysmic absurdity in which Montenegro is ruled by its greatest enemies”. Do you have an explanation why URA does that?
Papović: URA is the most dangerous member of the ruling coalition, because it has a chameleon nature. URA is advertised as a pro-Montenegrin, pro-European and environmental movement, while in reality its anti-state policy is no different from the DF, and its demagogic-populist ideology from the Democrats. The propaganda of GP URA acts as anesthesia for citizens who are committed to civil, independent and European Montenegro. URA lulls them to sleep with phrases about reconciliation, the unquestionability of Montenegrin independence, EU integration and the fight against organized crime and corruption.
On the other hand, the URA provides crucial support for the assignment of officials and supporters of parties fighting to create a “Serbian world” to most of the most important positions in the public sector. Thus, in the educational system, thanks to GP URA, from kindergartens to universities, open advocates of the disappearance of the state of Montenegro and promoters of the criminal white-Chetnik ideology have been appointed to the main functions. The URA allows this so that its president would have uncontrolled power over the public and secret police and the judicial system. GP URA’s policy is subordinated to the raw megalomaniacal ambition of its president and it is the only GP URA program. This was realized by some of the founders of GP URA and that is why they left it.
The new majority persistently calls on the DPS that behind the promotion of Montenegro as a civil, secular anti-fascist state is an attempt to raise tensions and deepen the divisions that “conciliators” and “liberators” are trying to overcome. They use the replacement of the thesis that the DPS, after the change of government, said that Montenegro would disappear, that it would leave NATO, so nothing happened. Your comment?
Papović: While leading the Government, the DPS warned what would happen if the government was taken over by those who fought all their lives against the statehood and independence of Montenegro and those who were always against a harmonious multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. The response of the then opposition and most NGOs was that it was just propaganda that provoked divisions in order for the DPS to preserve power. Since the formation of this Government, it has been shown that the DPS was right.
It is not about the power of the DPS to predict the future, but only about pointing to obvious certainty. If someone disputes the statehood and independence of Montenegro while he is in opposition, then it is certain that he will do so when he becomes the government. If someone promotes the Chetnik ideology while in opposition and announces that war criminal Ratko Mladic is his national hero, then it is certain that he will do so when he becomes the government. It is naive to expect that these political parties and their representatives will change only because they have moved from the opposition to the government. The coalition around the DF did not give up on leaving NATO, nor on withdrawing the recognition of the state of Kosovo, nor on the Chetnik ideology, nor on the annexation of Montenegro to Serbia, nor on the destruction of the Montenegrin nation. It is only a matter of phasing out these goals.
What was the first phase, in which we are now…?
Papović: The first phase was to remove the DPS from power, not so much because of the government itself, but because of the need to overthrow the most powerful state-building party. Without the DPS in power, Montenegrin statehood becomes vulnerable and erosive, and Euro-Atlantic policy has no prospects. The second phase is underway. It is the blackmail of this technical government in order to occupy functions “in depth”. Once the DF staff is rooted in the state system, a third phase follows. This is the election of this Government (which is the goal of the DF protests scheduled for September) and the formation of a Government in which the DF leaders will have the main functions. This paves the way for the realization of their main political goals. The DPS warns what their goal is before change happens, and if it does, then it is too late for warnings.
The minister of four departments made an unprecedented purge in education, expelling hundreds of directors and appointing new ones who all participated in the processions or openly supported them, who inherited the Chetnik ideology and openly, who are against NATO… All this goes beyond the reactions of the academic community, national of the Academy of Sciences and Arts, apart from intellectuals, some exceptions… Do you have an explanation of what this is about?
Papović: There is no academic community in Montenegro, and even if it existed, I do not believe that it would have a unified position on anything. All that can be expected from CANU is for academics to announce or remain silent about their position. Almost everyone chose the latter. It is the same with intellectuals. That is their right. However, it will remain written who reacted and who was silent.
What consequences will the events in education, ie the brutal revanchism of Minister Bratić, have on the educational system, on its stability, above all?
Papović: Minister Bratić, first of all, showed that she does not have the ability to manage the system in order to perform the basic task of the regular educational process. Under her leadership, the education department disintegrated. It is the same in the other three departments. Minister Bratic is, above all, incapable of this job. Her associates who left her testify to that. The only thing that proved to be the implementation of the ideological-political purge. That was predictable.
If the declared “Chetnik woman” and the negator of the Montenegrin nation, language and culture is appointed Minister of Education, then the purge of over 250 principals is predictable and it is predictable that, among others, obscure casts and Chetnik dukes will advance. Due to the sharp criticism of this policy of the Minister, Prime Minister Krivokapić accused the opposition deputies in the Assembly of attacking the life of Vesna Bratić. Nobody touches the life of Minister Bratic, but her bad moves are criticized for a reason. We should ask the Prime Minister what his name is when Minister Bratić removes over 250 principals with one illegal move, and does not leave many the opportunity to continue working in schools? Is it an attack on them and the lives of their families?
How do you comment on Abazović's attempts to justify Bratić's actions, claiming that someone was subverting her from her associates in stamping the decision on dismissal, in which there are many mistakes. For him, it is not important who the new directors are, the way the previous ones were replaced, but the mistakes in the solutions…
Papović: URA, ie Dritan Abazović, has the main guilt and responsibility for Vesna Bratić's actions. Without the support of GP URA and Abazović, Vesna Bratić would never have been even close to the Ministry. If they wanted that, Minister Bratic would have to resign tomorrow. Instead, we have a duplicitous performance of GP URA. Thus, MP Božena Jelušić points out that she is dissatisfied with the situation in education and that she is dissatisfied with the work of the Minister. The result of that dissatisfaction is that Vesna Bratic continues to minister. Abazovic, Jelusic and others from GP URA are not a threat but a guarantee for the ministerial position of Vesna Bratic.
How do you see the way out of the current political, economic, health, educational crisis? Is it possible to achieve anything by some possible compromise between the pro-European forces on the Montenegrin political scene, which is being talked about, or are early elections the only solution?
Papović: Pro European and at the same time pro-Montenegrin forces are in opposition. The task of the opposition is to constantly attack and, if possible, overthrow the Government in order to hold early parliamentary elections as soon as possible. That is the only democratic way out of the crisis. Until then, the citizens will have to endure what they mostly chose on August 30.
The government does not hide that it is looking for proven opponents of the DPS for the Prosecutorial Council
The German ambassador warned that members of the Prosecutorial Council should not be elected before the summer break, reminding that they have already criticized the amendments to the Law on the State Prosecutor's Office, since not all recommendations of the Venice Commission have been accepted. At one of the sessions of the parliamentary working bodies, you warned that it is almost known who will be elected and that we will have a Prosecutorial Council, which is under the direct control of the new government. On what do you base such claims? How do you comment on the warning of the German ambassador?
Papovic: The warning of the German ambassador is inappropriate interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. It is an indicator of sovereignty since the establishment of this parliamentary majority and the Government. It also shows that part of the ruling parties bases the legitimacy of their government on orders from powerful embassies, and not on, as the Constitution provides, the democratically expressed will of the citizens. Amendments to the Law on the State Prosecutor's Office were made contrary to the Constitution and contrary to the opinion of the Venice Commission. Therefore, the Prosecutorial Council that will be formed according to these amendments to the law cannot be constitutional or in accordance with the positive European standards in this area.
The goal of these changes is not to improve the work of the Prosecutorial Council and the improvement of the State Prosecutor's Office, but to put it under the direct control of the parties that make up the parliamentary majority and the Government. Their goal is political revenge – they are settling accounts with the opposition and are looking for members for the Prosecutorial Council who will only be the perpetrators of their revenge. This was seen during the consultative hearing of the candidates for the Prosecutorial Council from the ranks of eminent lawyers.
What exactly do you mean?
Papovic: Most of the candidates were recommended for membership in the Prosecutorial Council by allegedly always fighting against the DPS, while the other part of the candidates applied for the job due to career motives and without the necessary experience to call themselves reputable lawyers. The deputies of the ruling coalition made this hearing a third-class farce in which it was not even hidden that they were looking for proven opponents of the DPS.