In Europe - East, Feature Articles

New Cold, Dec 3, 2015

For the past three months, large numbers of people in the Balkan country of Montenegro have been protesting government corruption, a poor economy and a proposal by the country’s governing clique to join the NATO military alliance. The largest of those actions took place in October when thousands hit the streets of the capital city Podgorica and other cities and again just days ago.

Anti-gov't and anti-NATO protest in Podgorica, Montenegro on Oct 24, 2015. Banner reads 'Our future, our right' (AFP photo)

Anti-gov’t and anti-NATO protest in Podgorica, Montenegro on Oct 24, 2015. Banner reads ‘Our future, our right’ (AFP photo)

Police attacked demonstrators in Podgorica on October 24 using tear gas and armoured vehicles. See the report of the citizen inquiry on police conduct on that date, below.

The latest anti-NATO protests took place four days ago involving more than 10,000 people.

The protest movement has called on the government to resign, that a transitional government be formed and hold a national election, and that a referendum on NATO membership he held before any steps to join the military alliance would be taken.

Prime Minister Milo Ðukanovic has held prime ministerial or presidential positions for most of the time since 1990, when the Yugoslav federation was dissolved and Montenegro and Serbia became an indepndent republic. In 2006, a slim majority of Montenegrins voted to secede from Serbia.

Enclosed are news reports on the situation in Montenegro.

Read also on New Cold New NATO provocation as the military alliance courts tiny Montenegro for membership, Dec 3, 2015

Thousands of protesters slam Montenegro plan to join NATO

Press TV, Sunday Nov 29, 2015

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Montenegro to protest against the Balkan country’s planned membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Some 7,000 demonstrators gathered in Montenegro’s second largest city of Niksic on Saturday, calling on Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to step down over his proposal for the country to join the Western military alliance. A similar anti-government rally, attended by some 2,000 protesters, was held in the capital, Podgorica.

Montenegro has been the scene of such anti-government protests in the past few weeks.

Djukanovic says the protesters are trying to make Montenegro look unstable in an attempt to discourage NATO from taking it in as many Montenegrins have historic ties with Russia, which is opposed to the move.

The small European country hopes to receive an invitation from NATO next week to become a member of the alliance. The premier has repeatedly rejected demands to step down, offering to call early elections after the NATO meeting on December 1 and 2.

Djukanovic has been at the center of power over the past two decades, after holding prominent posts in the country from the early 1990s, when it was part of former Yugoslavia. In 2012, Djukanovic won re-election as the premier, marking the third time he has held the position since Montenegro gained independence from Serbia in 2006.

Read also:

Violence in Montenegro’s capital: an overview, report of the The Council for Civilian Oversight of the Police,  55th session held at the Assembly of Montenegro on 26 October 2015, concerning police violence at the protest in Podgorica on Oct 24, 2015.

Thousands protest against Montenegro’s government, Reuters, Saturday, Oct 18, 2015

… Earlier on Sunday, the country’s ruling coalition and opposition parties agreed to call an extraordinary session of the parliament’s security committee to investigate whether the police had used excessive force at an opposition rally on Saturday.

The National Security Council concluded that during the three-week long protests “there were activities that threatened the constitutional order, stability and security of the citizens and their property.”

It said the police action “had been cased by unlawful behaviour and active resistance of the participants.”

Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) accused the Democratic Front of trying to stop it from joining NATO, it said in a statement on Sunday.

Montenegro activists defy ‘unlawful protest’ ban, published in Balkan Insight, Oct 6, 2015

Opposition politicians and activists pledge to continue protests across Montenegro, despite a police ban on ‘unauthorised’ demonstrations outside the capital.

… Democratic Front leaders have called on other opposition parties to join the rallies and support protesters’ demands for the creation of an interim government to organise what they say would be Montenegro’s “first ever free and fair elections”. Opposition leaders said they would continue protests in 15 municipalities.

At demonstrations in several major towns, including Niksic, Budva, Bijelo Polje, Bar and Herceg Novi, protesters also called for early local elections and an investigation into the alleged misuse of state resources and political corruption.

The Democratic Front’s supporters and MPs, set up tents in front of the parliament three weeks ago, but police removed the tents early on Saturday morning to unblock the city’s main street, prompting the Democratic Front to call for the evening protests. Critics say the Adriatic country of 680,000 is run as a fief by a political elite largely unchanged over the past 20 years, a description the government rejects.


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