After the elections held months ago, Montenegro is on the verge of forming a new government. What will be the agreements for its formation, who can be part of the government and for whom there are red lines, and many other issues about the political situation in Montenegro will be the subject of our guest Mr. Nikolle Camaj, lider of the Democratic League of Albanians in Montenegro and a deputy of this party in the Parliament of Montenegro.
THE GEOPOST: Mr. Camaj, thank you very much for this interview for The Geopost. How do you assess the current political situation in Montenegro?
NIKOLLË CAMAJ: You see, Montenegro just come out of the extraordinary elections and is in the phase of forming a new government. In fact, yesterday the President of the Republic mandated Mr. Spajic to give him a chance to form the new government. This means that Mr. Spajic has 24 deputies in the Montenegrin Parliament, 41 are needed to form a majority. So far, there have been informal and formal talks with potential partners, in which, of course, minorities are counted, because at this important moment the minority factor applies in Montenegro when trying to go to Europe, where in the pyramid, that is, at the top of the pyramid and the focus of benefits, is always integration in the European Union. So minorities play an important role. Of course, here we have a political force representing Serbs in Montenegro, even though it is known that this political structure, which has taken over the majority, has sided with Serbian nationalism three years before. But something happened also within the groups, and today both the mandate and the president of the state do not question the question of integration, the question of relations with neighbors, bearing in mind here also the relations with Kosovo.
And we are therefore in a situation where the representative Mr. Spajic, who has the mandate to form the new government, has the possibility to form a government with democrats, and with national minorities, parties of national minorities, in which there are Bosniaks with 6 mandates, Albanian parties with 3 mandates and one Albanian, who has switched to the group of the party of Milo Djukanovic and a moderate Serbian party, the Social Democratic Party, which has two deputies. All of these together, to whom they had already offered their support during the talks, make up 44 deputies, which gives them a sufficient majority to form the government. However, they do not have a sufficient majority to reform what needs to be reformed in order for Montenegro to meet the conditions for joining Europe.
In any case, in these days, in the coming weeks, we have a very active political situation, even if it is August, that is, when governments and parliament are resting, but time does not wait and time does not work in favor of Mr. Spajić, so he has to work, he has to hurry to form the government, even at 41, to oust the current government led by Dritan Abazović, who because of the pre-election campaign and attitudes and for which, of course, he is not in his favor Mr . Spajic has drawn the red line that he will not be part of the next government.
All these are making things difficult for him, although I am more than convinced that Mr. Spajic will succeed, he will succeed in offering a program and a government, and then the parliament will deal with them, of course, since the first step is to elect the prime minister and then continue, will all those who have promised support give him , so will they give you the day when you vote for the government, we will see, it will depend a lot on what the government’s program will be and what the content of the government will be. As for us as Albanians, I can speak freely for other Albanian representatives, we are ready to join and reach an agreement, and only with political structures that agree to consider the principles on which we can reach an agreement. These principles are among the ten principles that he himself advocated during the mandate negotiations and that guarantee that Montenegro will not change its course in foreign policy and in domestic policy, especially when it comes to the issue of security. We know that there are big interests here and if those principles are acceptable to the partners, the Albanians will of course be part of the government.
We have no conditions to say which will be the departments that we will cover, the important thing is that we are ready to take responsibility and ready to contribute where the Albanians need it most.
THE GEOPOST: Mr. Camaj, how dangerous is it if Mr. Spajic decides to include Mandic’s group, the Democratic Front, in the coalition, where it is known that their influence, Serbian, Russian and others, really undermines the security of Montenegro, as well as Albanians and other minorities. How much they will be ready to defend this Montenegrin discourse?
NIKOLLË CAMAJ: See if for the successor parties of the Democratic Front, namely for the parties that today are in direct contact with Vučić and through Vučić, of course, also with Russia, their chance to become part of the government is only if they accept these principles. So if they accept the 10 principles that Mr. Spajic offered. Because they guarantee what we all have concerns about. Of course, just accepting the principles, their endorsement, or the government program doesn’t mean that they can’t take steps tomorrow and do other ventures, but it’s more than certain that they don’t have the political strength to do anything. That would require at least 49 to 53 deputies for any change. So they cannot risk anything directly. The functioning of the government can be questioned, if they only address hot topics, they will obviously not have the support of the minorities.
And as you said at the beginning, the minorities are very important at this moment for the international factor that they are observing, and I don’t think that Mr. Spajic will conduct such experiments to choose between the minorities and the Democratic front. So even if it comes to the fact that we form a government in which there are both the Democratic front and the minorities on the basis of acceptance of common principles, and if you create a situation where you have to make a choice between the minorities and the Democratic front, I think that the government will recommend to take the aspirations of the minorities as a basis. let’s emphasize the fact here that Montenegro is the only country in the region where the minorities have helped the state in all important points were identified in the main demands for the state. And at this moment, the international factor has more confidence in the minorities that they will strengthen the policy leading to Europe, integration, commitment and promotion of NATO values.
One of the conditions that is have always mentioned, for example, is Russian aggression against the Russians in Ukraine and so on. So I think that the minorities have the key in their hands to prevent the situation in Montenegro to become so the government takes direction or to receive instructions or to be influenced by the east, by Belgrade, by Moscow and so on.
Therefore, the minority element is very important at this moment. The other possibility is that Mr. Spajic follows, chooses to form the government only in the extreme currents, abandons the principles that he represented during the talks, and forms a completely pro-Belgrade government, which is too little to believe that it is based on what we know for Spajić and for Millatović and for this political group, even though they entered politics on the wings of the clerofascist activities of the Serbian Church and Serbian politics in Montenegro, we are convinced, based on their statement, that they are nevertheless oriented towards the West, not only by conviction and by the fact that they were educated abroad, but also by the way they conduct these political affairs that they conduct, namely necessarily by promoting pro-western values. Of course, within the structure there are people who think differently, but as far as we have seen what has been said, they are in the minority, and neither those structures together nor those structures with Serbs in Montenegro do not question the integration of Montenegro.
I should also tell you something that probably surfaced during the talks. The most radical Serbian structures the moment they come to power, the moment they take power, except of course they would probably have closer relations with Belgrade, where do they want to act in Montenegro, because it is more important for them to have a government and to run a state, because you are an branch or a province or as they once called it during the time of SRY, the last Yugoslavia, so as a unit of 33 elections. So there are no such Serbs in Montenegro who want to see Montenegro as electoral unit of Serbia. Even if there are some, they are in the minority. Therefore, I am more than convinced that Mr. Spajic and the political force surrounding him, that is “Europe now”, as the name says, breathe in this direction.
THE GEOPOST : Mr. Camaj, in the last few days we have seen a lot of graffiti from the Serbian side, have incited inter-ethnic hatred on various beaches from Tivat to Herceg Novi. How much does this affect the cooperation you have said so far?
NIKOLLË CAMAJ: The last case was the soccer match of the local team between Buducnost and Podgorica two nights ago, where they were fully present, that is, we from politics from Tuzi, and we experienced insults at the national level. Ultimately, it is the rhetoric that accompanies soccer matches all over the world, but here they take on a more national coloration, because that is not acceptable for part of the population, the voters, for part of the inhabitants of Montenegro. The national minorities, especially Albanians, determine their fate and the future of the state. And these graffiti are rather a reflection, an activity, a reaction to their timidity, their fear, and the last attempt to make the politicians think differently, that there is a possibility that there is no balance.
You knew that everywhere in these multi-ethnic states there was graffiti like this. They are not beautiful, they are not elegant, formal structures are erasing them during the day, others are rewritten at night, there are provocations from all sides, and I think that this is all a pressure on the political actors. Well, we have seen that in Montenegro, where really if there is anyone in the region that can be praised with inter-ethnic relations, it was Montenegro, but in the interethnic distance, based on the analyses carried out, we have the largest one, but it has never prevented us from having an Albanian prime minister in a previous term.
Regardless of how much he was committed to the Albanians or others, he was the Albanian prime minister. All this proves that in Montenegro there is an opinion that coexistence cannot be maintained and that coexistence does not accept those who think like you or have a different ethnic base. You must understand one thing: In Montenegro there is no absolute majority, no nationality or the nation has no majority. And whoever wants to establish or maintain a state, to maintain peace and order here, must consider that within the structures there must be representatives of minorities. Our folklore is full of these elements that they sometimes use to satisfy the need to strengthen themselves politically, to win the support of someone, but to be honest, all of them, when they come to situations that they themselves decide about something, to be part of the government, even if it’s local, they change their attitudes.
We have a municipality nearby, Zeta Golubovci, a municipality with Serb majority. And initiatives were taken so that the municipalities cancel the recognition of Kosovo. Imagine a municipality, and all the euphoria that dominated the newspapers for 10 days, immediately, as they say, “a storm in a teacup”, nothing came out of it, it did not even get on the agenda. We have another case in Nikšić, when a mayor rebelled and mocked the national anthem. All these things lead to a situation that was created in Montenegro, and I am more than convinced that all this is to put pressure on those who will decide on the formation of the government, that they will be careful in some way what they will do, and profile them in such a way that in all circumstances they will involve Serb forces, that is Serb forces in the sense of political forces that are more oriented towards Serbs.
I will just repeat the following: In Montenegro, no one has the majority, neither in politics nor in practice, and in a way, all these inappropriate graffiti – back to the specific question – are quite normal in a mixed environment where it was not resolved, although peace has been kept as in no other republic, national issues have not been resolved, the Albanian issue, although we have done a lot compared to the 90s, as I said, we have achieved the prime minister, while the Albanian issue it is not resolved. The same thing is said by the Croats when they talk about themselves, the Bosniaks, also the Serbs, and whether these nations and the nationalities, as we called them, representatives of the majority population and the minority population if they don’t reach an agreement, then what can we talk about? And of course we have to tolerate such elements that I think are not dominant as long as the opinion and the media, except for one portal In4s (maybe), there is no one who supports them. But everyone called them scandalous, unacceptable, insulting, denigrating, and that proves in a way that these elements are now declining.
THE GEOPOST Mr. Camaj, thank you for this excellent interview for The Geopost.
NIKOLLË CAMAJ: Thank you also for the space, of course we need to be heard for us outside the Albanian area here in Montenegro. /The Geopost/