The Montenegrin parliament, in a repeat vote, handed on January 20 an important Law on Religious Freedoms which President Milo Djukanovic refused to signal a month in the past, now forcing him to both concede and signal or violate the structure.
The unique regulation drafted by Djukanovic early final yr triggered a wave of protests throughout Montenegro and ended his DPS get together’s 30-year-old parliamentary rule, the longest in Europe. His preliminary thought, which price him dearly, was to enact the regulation to strip the highly effective Serbian Orthodox Church of its huge belongings throughout the tiny Adriatic littoral nation.
The church rose up and for the a lot of the final yr held lots and processions throughout the nation of some 630,000 individuals led by the late Archbishop Amfilohije, one of the vital influential figures within the Serbian Orthodox Church, who paid together with his life for snubbing the COVID-19 pandemic rules of social distancing and sporting safety masks throughout the protests and rites. The Serbian Orthodox Church then paid an excellent steeper worth – the Patriarch of the Church, Irinej, adopted him quickly after by catching the virus at Amfilohije’s funeral.
Djukanovic did not safe a majority seats within the autumn elections. He misplaced by one seat. The 81-seat Montenegrin Parliament ushered in, final December, a brand new conservative, pro-Serb coalition authorities, which surprisingly caught to the overseas coverage course created and pursued by Djukanovic, i.e. NATO membership and a non-withdrawal of Kosovo’s recognition.
The solely departure from Djukanovic’s path to this point is the aforementioned Law on Religious Freedoms, which has now been amended to allay the fears of the Church, and handed earlier than Christmas and which he then refused to signal and returned it to the Parliament for one more vote.
Montenegro’s Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic stated that the adopted Law on Religious Freedoms means safety for the Serbian Orthodox Church’s belongings and property in Montenegro.
“This law does not need to treat property issues, that was the error in the previous version of the Law. Djukanovic must sign it now after being passed twice”, he stated.
Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic speaks on the National Assembly in Podgorica. EPA-EFE//BORIS PEJOVICIndeed, if Djukanovic actually desires to infuriate his political opponents additional, his nationalist DPS get together – adamant opponents of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the regulation – has one recourse left open: to file a petition to the Constitutional court docket for ultimate authorized judgement.
However, sources near his cupboard declare he’ll signal it and put the matter, which pressured a hiatus in his unquestioned rule, to relaxation for a easy cause in that it really fits him that another person does the soiled work for him. “There is no way he can be seen signing the law, which caused such a furor among the Montenegrin nationalists and the promoters of an independent Montenegrin Church,” a Western diplomat stated.
An extraordinarily savvy and crafty pro-Western politician, Djukanovic misplaced the elections in a wave of acrimony and allegations of corruption, nepotism and crime. He, who remodeled himself from Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic’s favourite prodigy to his arch-nemesis, survived the fallout of this shut relationship, evaded legal costs towards him in Italian courts, made quiet offers to spare his nation from critical bombardment within the 1999 NATO motion towards Serbia over Kosovo and reconfigured the nation from a Russian semi-satellite to a NATO member that’s on a stable observe to turn into a member of the EU.
After dropping by a single seat, he then stoically relinquished energy to his opposition, enduring, albeit red-faced, the inaugural session within the Parliament which was an ordeal in character assassination by his political foes. But aside from phrases, there have been no sticks or stones to interrupt his bones – no legal costs, no persecution of any type that was so broadly promised and cheered throughout the elections and the times that adopted the inauguration of the brand new authorities, which surprisingly sufficient, for still-yet-unexplained causes, took months to occur.
Indeed, there are actually quite a lot of indicators to see for many who know the place and the way to search for a solution whether or not Djukanovic’s energy has genuinely diminished or not. The reply, for now, is a convincing “no”.
During the a couple of month of cohabitation, Djukanovic has blocked a number of essential steps by the federal government, continuing from the Law on Religious Freedoms, to permit modifications within the navy, police, judiciary, or diplomatic service. Everything and everyone else who issues, stay of their positions, as if Djukanovic’s DPS remains to be in energy – the dreaded state prosecutor, the police, the military, the judiciary – all stay untouched. Some die-hard pro-government insiders nonetheless argue: “for the time being”.
A outstanding businessman, who fell afoul of Djukanovic and left the nation for the protection of UK, assumed with the altering of the federal government he would victoriously return home. It didn’t occur, and within the meantime, he was stripped of all his belongings within the nation, price tens of millions.
Montenegrian patriotic organizations near Milo Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) staged rallies in assist of Montenegrian sovereignty in September 2020. EPA-EFE//BORIS PEJOVICIn one other, way more critical, instance with far-reaching penalties, Foreign Minister Djordje Radulovic immediately helped Djukanovic to point out who remains to be the boss in Montenegro. He is Djukanovic’s Trojan Horse”, Dalibor Kavaric, a outstanding native lawyer stated.
Radulovic’s declare to diplomatic fame stems for his current place of DCM within the Montenegrin Embassy in Bucharest in distinction to scores of veteran diplomats with higher education and lots of extra years of expertise. He has already stirred up a hornet’s nest with the inexplicable recall of a number of ambassadors on the unfounded grounds that they have been working towards the state, which resulted solely within the additional embarrassment of the federal government, particularly when most of them refused to return home, Kavaric famous.
Another indication that behind the scenes, Djukanovic nonetheless pulls the strings and his cronies within the authorities equipment, police and judiciary he arrange over the previous 30 years haven’t all deserted him, is the case of Serbian Ambassador to Montenegro, Vladimir Bozovic.
Just days earlier than the handover of energy, Djukanovic’s outgoing Foreign Ministry accused Montenegro’s native son, Bozovic, of “interfering in Montenegro’s internal affairs” and ordered his expulsion on November 28 in contravention of the Vienna conference.
Not eager to make issues worse, Serbia’s authorities didn’t comply with go well with anticipating the brand new Montenegro authorities to rescind the choice. It nonetheless has not occurred, regardless of preliminary guarantees by the brand new authorities. In the meantime, these assurances are getting quieter, whereas the relations between Serbia and its erstwhile ally, Montenegro, are steadily worsening.
Insiders declare that Serbia is not going to recall Bozovic and nonetheless considers him its Ambassador to Montenegro for not less than subsequent three years. Instead of scrapping the flawed determination, the brand new Foreign Minister insists that the previous protocol have to be revered. The new prime minister and his deputy appear powerless to rein within the civil servant they ostensibly appointed.
In fact, nevertheless, they’ll’t. The well-mannered and soft-spoken Bozovic is extremely disliked by Djukanovic, mainly as a result of he was very near the latter’s nemesis – Archbishop Amfilohije. They have been born in the identical little central city and within the traditionalist and conservative Montenegro, that bond bears critical weight and mutual dedication.
This, in flip, accounts for the truth that no visits have been exchanged as but regardless of the Montenegrin Prime Minister’s vow to first go to Serbia after he will get sworn in – as a result of Serbia insists that any talks have to be attended additionally by their Ambassador Bozovic. In conferences with overseas diplomats in Podgorica, the Montenegrin capital, Radulovic makes use of this as an excuse in charge Serbia for not wanting to enhance relations.
It additionally impairs the forming of the mini-Schengen space within the West Balkans which can allow free move of commerce, items, individuals and providers, an thought supported each by the EU and US, however opposed within the area by Pristina and its ally Djukanovic.
While many hoped or believed that Djukanovic after dropping elections, would flee the nation and his DPS get together would dissipate, it’s apparent that he’s nonetheless calling the pictures. With the one one rock he ever struck within the 30 years of navigating the treacherous waters of Balkan politics, the Law on Religious Freedom, out of the best way, he now solely has to attend for this coalition authorities to make one mistake and disintegrate.
For Djukanovic, getting again that one seat within the parliament needs to be a stroll within the park and it’s as much as the present authorities to point out whether or not that will be good or dangerous for the area. Unfortunately, if the ebook is to be judged by its cowl, expectations for a superb learn are fairly low, observers say.