"The Teacher"

"The Teacher"
The Plan

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


APRIL 22, 2014


WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday April 8, 2014 Albanian-Americans from around the United States gathered in Washington DC and protested before the White House and the Montenegrin Embassy against Montenegro’s systemic discriminatory policies towards its Albanian national minorities.  This peaceful demonstration followed similar rallies throughout Montenegro where ethnic Albanians vehemently objected the continued sociopolitical disparities that have plagued them for decades, particularly refusal by the Montenegrin Government to fully comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including the Charter of Local Self-Government in granting the region of Malësia a full and comprehensive municipality with all the legitimate and administrative authority of a decentralized self-government.

This rally was purposely arranged to coincide with the arrival of Montenegro's Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic, and his attempt to lobby the U.S. Government for support of Montenegro's aspirations to join the EU and NATO.  The strong showing of protesters objected to any such support and appealed to the White House.

Following the peaceful demonstrations, Djukanovic met with elected officials and Albanians to discuss various issues confronting Albanian communities in Montenegro, specifically a “promise” he made to the U.S. Congress in 2005 – where he vowed to grant the region of Malësia a full and independent municipality within four years (2009).  During this meeting, Djukanovic “promised” that his government will support the “will” of Albanians in Malësia, and all they had to do was formally request their desire for the establishment of an independent municipality.
Prime Minister Djukanovic’s repeated “promises” on the matter of an independent municipality have no bearing in past or current negotiations between his government and the Albanian minority.  For the past 15 years the Albanian Community in Malësia has expressed its “will” by repeatedly requesting an independent municipality given this administrative region meets and exceeds all the economic, territorial and organizational requirements for a full and independent commune.  In the same vein, Djukanovic has made similar “promises” in the past while campaigning for re-election, and like the past has failed to honor each and every one.
Until these “promises” are kept, the Albanian Diaspora cannot support Montenegro’s bid for EU/NATO membership.  It is not in our best interest to support a government who repeatedly violates the most basic forms of minority rights to join a family of democratic institutions of Western Europe.  Furthermore, until such time that Albanians in Montenegro are afforded these rights, the Albanian Diaspora will continue lobbying members of U.S. Congress to review Montenegro’s minority rights policies and continue to communicate via protests our previous demands that the Montenegrin Government fully comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including the Charter of Local Self-Government by means of granting the region of Malësia a full and comprehensive municipality with all the legitimate and administrative authority of a decentralized self-government.

Wherefore, we urge Prime Minister Djukanovic to recognize our following demands:

  1. Initiate equal rights and prohibit discrimination with programs that incorporate all people regardless of social, economic, political, linguistic, religious, and/or ethnic background;
  2. Implement policies and programs aimed at leveling the playing field for Albanians in pursuit of jobs, admission to universities, and even government contracts;
  3. Encourage public institutions such as universities, hospitals and police forces to be more representative of the population. Employ Albanians as judges, police chiefs, and medical directors in areas where Albanians constitute a majority. This will ensure public trust, public confidence and equal representation.
  4. Establish a Commune in Malësia and create policies to provide employment and long term welfare to Albanians at the municipal level. This would no doubt encourage social, economic, and political development, bring government closer to the people and embolden a minority group that has been disenfranchised for so many years.
  5. Redistribute a fair proportion of the national wealth in areas where Albanians comprise a majority, such as 85% in Ulqin and 92% in Malësia. Reinvestment in these regions guarantees increased wealth, growth, development and public consumption. The returns on these investments can be invaluable.
  6. Stop illegal state privatization of industries and businesses in the municipality of Ulqin, including renunciation of the Maritime Laws that allow for the unlawful seizure of land in Ulqin, which is grossly disproportionate other coastal regions in Montenegro.
  7. Forfeit plans to confiscate private property in the town of Martinaj where the state plans to build an orthodox church amongst a population of 100% Muslim Albanians (Martinaj’s).
  8. Encourage equity ownership, representation at both employee and management level, procurement to initiate Albanian-owned businesses and social investment programs, amongst others.
  9. Create government-sponsored programs to educate the majority about the important contributions that Albanians bring to the country, including diversity, rich history, aptitude, and an unsurpassed work ethic – characteristics that can build a country and not break it apart.
  10. Tear down state monopolies and encourage private ownership. Give back to Albanians those enterprises that were wrongfully taken away and given to corrupt government elites driven by personal gain instead of public service.
In lieu of these aforementioned rights, propagated by international human rights laws and organizations, Montenegro has opted to isolate the Albanian communities of Montenegro and discourage their growth and protection.

The Albanian-American Diaspora will not tolerate this behavior and vows to aggressively exploit Montenegro’s oppression and abusive tactics to all international institutions and policy makers in an effort to prove that Montenegro has no place in a democratic Europe until it affords its Albanian citizens basic human rights and stops its campaign of abuse, discrimination, intimidation and expulsion.

For more information, please contact the Albanian-American Association (“Shoqata Malësia e Madhe”) at (586) 530-0373.

# # #

Montenegro Albanians Demand Own Municipality

About a hundred ethnic Albanians staged a protest on April 6th in Tuz, near the capital, Podgorica, pressing demands for Tuz to become a separate municipality.

The protest was organised by Albanian opposition parties, the Democratic Forum for Integration and the Democratic Alliance.
They claim that the government has been "abusing and discriminating against" local Albanians in Tuz, where they form the majority community.
The protesters called on ethnic Albanian politicians to quit their positions in Montenegro's state institutions until Tuz is granted the status of a municipality.
"The state has done nothing for the decentralization of Montenegro and for 24 years has ignored the demands of the Albanian parties," Besnik Gjonaj, from the Democratic Forum for Integration, said.
Sunday's protest was held ahead of the visit of Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo  Djukanovic to the US, where some Albanian diaspora groups also announced a protest for April 8.
Some Albanians intend to protest in front of the US Congress against Prime Minister Djukanovic over what they call his "unfulfilled promises" regarding the status of Albanians in Montenegro.
The Montenegrin leader is to meet Vice-President Joseph Biden during the visit on April 8,  mainly to discuss Montenegro's ambitions to join NATO.
Montenegro is hoping for an invitation at the NATO Summit planned for Wales in the UK this autumn.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Montenegro: a fistful of democracy

KOČA PAVLOVIĆ 10 March 2014

Despite ostensibly being a Western Balkans success story, the tiny republic of Montenegro still suffers under the arcane rule of a Prime Minister, Milo Đukanović, who legitimises violence against political opponents.

The interaction between political actors in Montenegro has always been colourful and, more often than not, emotionally charged. I have been a part of that political landscape for some years now. The opposition politicians and those representing the ruling coalition slice each other up with equal ferocity on the parliament floor, in their public speeches, on the pages of the daily papers or in postings on various web portals. A few decades ago, the sharp tongue of the current Prime Minister, Milo Đukanović, had earned him the nickname “the Blade” (Britva). He has been in power since 1989, as both the country’s prime minister and as its president, and is currently serving his seventh prime ministerial term.
Over the last decade or so the opposition politician, Nebojša Medojević and his colleagues in the party he leads, the Movement for Changes (PZP), have been astute, harsh, and passionate critics of the policies enacted by the ruling coalition, and the country’s multi-term Prime Minister, Milo Đukanović, in particular. The leader of the PZP and his party colleagues are by far the most vocal and persistent critics of the decades-long rule of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and its leader, Đukanović.
They frequently point to endemic corruption, gangster privatization, links between the ruling elite and organized crime, and the criminalization of Montenegrin society among other improprieties. Medojević and his colleagues attribute those problems plaguing the Montenegrin society to the flawed policies enacted by the ruling coalition and designed by Milo Đukanović. Lately, some of the new opposition players on the local political scene have also been critical of the ruling DPS and its leader in their parliamentary discussions.
There is nothing exceptional about this setup: the opposition politicians are vocal critics of the government, while the government and the prime minister try to downplay the criticism coming from the opposition parties. Frequent fiery exchanges of political left and right hooks between elected representatives are usually a sign of healthy parliamentary democracy.
But Montenegro does not function as a parliamentary democracy, let alone a healthy one. Its model of governing could be best described as a hybrid regime of a proto-democratic type, in which those tools we commonly associate with democratic system (strong parliament; free elections; efficient and independent judiciary, etc.) exist only to hide the reality of a highly centralised party state whose leadership displays considerable authoritarian tendencies. The leader of the DPS and the country’s Prime Minister, Milo Đukanović, acts as alpha and omega of the local political space.
The current situation in the rapidly changing political landscape in Montenegro points to the change of the dynamics of the interaction between the ruling coalition and the opposition parties. As his grip on power weakens and the criticism of the DPS grows in scope and frequency, and as it becomes clear that the system he had created breeds only nepotism, kleptocracy, corruption, disregard for parliament, and violence directed against the critics, the prime minister responds to his critics in a more authoritarian manner than before.
Over the last year or so, his arguing with political opponents has been characterised by harsh words and insults hurled at opposition MPs. In his press conferences and during the question period, Milo Đukanović shouted at the opposition benches calling his critics rats, drug addicts, criminals and scoundrels, and calling for the “deratization” of Montenegrin politics. His wrath was directed mainly against the PZP and its MPs but he also castigated other opposition politicians.
Some months ago, during the question period, the prime minister called the MP for the Positive Montenegro party, Dritan Abazović, a scoundrel. More recently, after losing control of the municipal government in the coastal city of Ulcinj, he publically wagged his finger to the political representatives of the Albanian population in the region and threatened them. He referred to media critical of his politics and his authoritarian practice of governing as “monsters and Mafiosi” who desire his “physical elimination”. During the 2012 presidential election campaign, Milo Đukanović described the owner of the Vijesti daily as “the leader of non-organized crime whose ambitions are to become the country’s president”.
Some years earlier, in 2009, he called his critics “frustrated individuals and immature political creatures”. It is clear that the Prime Minister has, for some time, been displaying disdain and even hatred towards the institution of parliament, the MPs, free media, and towards any public and well founded criticism directed against his policies.
His critics have not only been on the receiving end of his sharp tongue but have also been victims of physical assaults by oligarchs and the so-called “strategic investment partners” of Mr. Đukanović and his DPS. A worrying trend emerges: Đukanović’s criticism is often followed by an assault on the opposition figure by either a hired thug or a “strategic investment partner of the government” and then, in the most extreme cases, by drive by shooting, or even assassination as in the cases of the newspaper editor, Duško Jovanović and the police inspector, Šćekić.
The latest victim of physical assault was the leader of the opposition PZP, Nebojša Medojević. He was attacked at the terminal at Belgrade airport by the now new owner of the bankrupt aluminum plant in Podgorica and a businessman with close ties to the ruling elite. The attacker admitted to insulting and hitting Medojević because he had to somehow “defend his honor and the honor of his family” against Medojević’s “unfounded accusations” about the lack of transparency in the case of the selling of the said aluminum plant.
While all political and non-governmental actors in Montenegro condemned this despicable act in no uncertain terms, Milo Đukanović chose to understate its severity and shift the blame to the opposition politician. In a speech delivered in Nikšić, one day after this attack occurred, Đukanović condemned violence in principle but said that when the system is not functioning properly people are forced to use tools from the treasure chest of the Montenegrin custom law in order to defend their honor. Those less knowledgeable about the recent history of Montenegro might think that the opposition parties and the PZP had created such a system, and that Đukanović and his DPS had nothing to do with it. Having in mind his history of disdain for the parliament and the institutions of the state, Đukanović’s latest performance confirms that the prime minister indeed hates everyone and everything he is unable to control.  
We have seen nothing new in this latest address by Đukanović. From the day his political career started in earnest in 1990s under the mentoring of Slobodan Milošević, he has governed in the same fashion: by spreading hate, supressing free expression, and supporting the use of “traditional forms of violence” against his critics. All along, he has assured us repeatedly that such methods are effective and appropriate when trying to save face and protect one’s honor and family.
Đukanović is the last person to call honor and dignity to his aid. He was the first and the only prime minister of Montenegro to ever be interrogated as a common criminal by the judiciary of a neighbouring state. It is also rather unwise of him to advocate the use of “traditional methods” in protecting one’s family and personal values because that could come back to haunt him, and he might end up paying dearly for it.
Since the prime minister advocates such manner of resolving arguments he should tell us who else (aside from him and his supporters) would have the right and be allowed to resort to such methods. Do all those citizens of Montenegro that were pushed into war and humiliated by his war mongering rhetoric and expansionist policies of 1990s have the right to employ methods of violence typical for the medieval custom law? Does that right apply to children, parents, spouses, and relatives of all those that Đukanović and his deputy Svetozar Marović, as well as the government controlled Pobjeda daily and the Montenegrin State Television (TVCG) dispatched to wage an aggressive war against our Croatian neighbours? How about all those whose property and family inheritance was stolen by his criminalized structure of power? Could, they swing their clenched fists at the back of his head? Could the family of the assassinated newspaper editor, Duško Jovanović have the right to resort to blood feud? How about the family of the assassinated police inspector, Šćekić? Do they also have the right to defend their honor and dignity by using “traditional methods”? Or, does Đukanović reserves this right only for those belonging to his inner circle?
During his speech in Nikšić, he was glowing because of the violence directed against his most significant political critic. He sounded and looked like a man who condones that kind of violence but never had the courage to himself commit such acts. That, indeed, is one of the lessons we had learned over the last twenty five years: it was always someone else who turned Đukanović’s political disagreements and public threats into acts of violence, drive-by-shootings, assassinations and beatings in dark alleyways. It was never him personally.
Since he entered politics, Milo Đukanović has been surrounded by bodyguards and criminals. That is the world in which even cowards could start advocating “traditional methods” of dealing with opponents and favour “custom law” as a mode of interaction. But once the security cordons disappear and their criminal protectors find themselves behind bars, all those newly minted advocates of custom law show their true face. It is the face of a coward from the beginning of the story. I am convinced that Montenegro will soon have a chance for that all-important face-off that has been long in the making.
The assault on Nebojša Medojević has upset many of our activists and party members, who are calling for an appropriate response. It is the president of the PZP who tries to calm the situation asking for patience and restraint. Đukanović’s condoning of violence during his speech in Nikšić only adds fuel to the already heated and tense situation as if he desires it to escalate.
In conclusion, I have to add that the most grotesque part of Đukanović’s speech was his criticism of those who hide behind the immunity! While being driven from Podgorica to Nikšić to deliver his celebratory oration on custom law and traditional methods of social interaction, Đukanović conveniently forgot that he spoke as the prime minister of Montenegro who not so long ago narrowly escaped a lengthy vacation in an Italian jail cell. He was able to do so only because he hid behind the prime ministerial immunity from prosecution, after being interrogated for over 6 hours about the organized crime charges by a prosecutor in Bari!

After listening to him speak in Nikšić, I have to admit to rethinking the validity of the previously dismissed thesis about Milo Đukanović supporting the political project of independent and sovereign Montenegro in order to protect himself from charges that he is “a serious criminal who is willing to destroy documentary evidence and eliminate witness” (a quote from the verdict by Italian court). It was laughable and said at the same time to listen to a politician who hid his criminal dossier behind the prime ministerial immunity, criticize others for allegedly hiding behind the MP immunity when criticizing the government and its kleptocrats.
Source:  openDemocracy:  http://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ko%C4%8D-pavlovi%C4%87/montenegro-fistful-of-democracy?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Feeling pressure from below, Dukanovic bows to Albanian demands in Gucia

PODGORICA, ME - Last week's parliamentary decision to adopt a proposal that would grant Gucia municipal status has drawn national attention from the Albanian minority throughout Montenegro.  The adoption would make Gucia the 23rd municipality in Montenegro, with a population of approximately 2,000 Albanians and Bosniaks.  
Gucia (formerly part of the municipality of Plav) voted in a referendum that backed a bid to obtain municipal status.  Albanians welcomed the news, especially given that the road for municipal recognition (as with other minority attempts in Montenegro for equal rights) was long and arduous.  Albanian political parties and NGOs worked in tandem to persuade the government to allow a referendum where local citizens would decide their own fate on various local government issues. 
The ruling DPS and its autocrat, Milo Dukanovic repeatedly vetoed any proposal that would establish an Albanian-majority municipality, similar to those preventing another Albanian region -- Malesia -- from establishing its own local self-government.  
With their unwavering position on establishing additional municipalities, Albanians threatened to boycott the 2012 elections.  This translated into thousands of "no-votes" for the DPS, and given that Dukanovic depends heavily on minority votes to remain in power, he reluctantly bowed to the demands and approved the establishment of an autonomous Gucia Commune.  
Earlier, Petnjica, also in the north of Montenegro, where the majority of citizens are Bosniak, regained the municipal status it previously had from 1945 to 1957, when it was merged with Berane.
Djukanovic has also announced the possibility of forming a new, 24th municipality in mainly Albanian Malesia, near the capital, Podgorica.  Conversely, the politics surrounding Malesia are a slightly different than those affecting Gucia.  Podgorica, the country's largest municipal zone, inhabits Malesia (with Tuzi as its center and approximately 13,000 Albanians), and the DPS relies on the Albanian vote to sustain government power and influence over the entire country.  If Malesia were to divorce from Podgorica and form its own municipality, Dukanovic fears the votes for his party will also disappear.
Recent territorial laws surrounding the fate of Malesia have been subject to much criticism by Albanian political parties, especially a law that would not fully grant Malesia budgetary independence from the capital city's sphere of influence, something Podgorica's mayor, Miomir ("Mugy") Mugosha maintains is necessary and sufficient for the vitality of the region (Similar sentiments were expressed in 1957 when League of Communist Mayors' Iko Mirkovic and Branko Nilevic stripped Malesia of her municipal status).  Milo Dukanovic is a descendant and former party leader of the same League of Communists along with Slobodan Milosevic.
Any conclusions we can draw from Dukanovic's decision to grant Gucia, and potentially Malesia, municipal status leads to the party's ambitions itself; the Albanian population, in the eyes of the DPS, is merely a number.  That number translates into votes.  For as long as Dukanovic maintains a grip on Albanian regions, his life-line in Montenegro is extended.  Absurd as this may sound, one only needs to look at what's happening in Montenegro to connect the clues.  Montenegrins and Serbs, who make up 73% of the population, are showing signs of discomfort with the DPS.  In recent weeks, protesters took to the streets and challenged the authorities to address the country’s endemic social problems.  Scenes like this are being echoed in neighboring Bosnia where talks of a "Balkan Spring" are spreading into cafes and villages. 
Balkan Insight contributed to this story

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kosova elections: 32 political subjects will represent the Serb community and a 4th Serb Municipality to be created

103 political subjects have been certified for Kosovo’s November municipal elections. 32 will represent the Serb community, says ECMI Kosovo’s September Newsletter.
The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Kosovo has certified 103 political subjects for the upcoming municipal elections. The subjects consist of 33 political parties, two coalitions, 53 citizens’ initiatives and 15 independent candidates. The municipal elections are to be held on 3 November.
Besides the single Serb list Civic Serb Initiative or Građanska Inicijativa “Srpska”, which is the only Serb subject supported by the government of Serbia, the Serb community will be represented by an additional 31 political subjects. Nine of the subjects will be competing in the Serb dominated northern Kosovo. 

Lists with candidates were also submitted by all other Kosovo non-majority communities, namely Bosniaks, Turks, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian, Montenegrins, Croats, and Gorani.
Information on the up-coming election:
Preparations of the November elections are part of the trilateral dialogue meetings between Prime Ministers Ivica Dačić, Serbia, Hashim Thaçi, Kosovo, and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. The current dialogue meetings are about the implementation of the “Brussels Agreement”. 
Prime Minister Dačić has confirmed that Serbs may vote with the ID they already possess. He has further stressed the need for efforts and mechanisms to ensure the voting of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) and of those born in Kosovo.
The OSCE Mission in Kosovo has been authorized to organize the elections in the Serb dominated northern municipalities and of displaced Serbs.
The Municipality of Northern Mitrovica is expected to be established as the fourth Serb municipality in northern Kosovo after the elections of 3 November.
The CEC has announced that the ballots will not carry any symbols of the Republic of Kosovo. Instead, they will carry the logo of the CEC. The design of the ballot papers was one of the major topics during the 27 August trilateral dialogue meeting.
Kosovo Serbs have been publicly called to vote in the November municipal elections by both Kosovo’s and Serbia’s top officials.
In a meeting with Serbs from Kosovo and the President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić, it was agreed to have a unified Serb list that would be supported by the government of Serbia.
Previously, the CEC requested the word “Serbia” to be removed from the names of all Serb lists running for the November elections. This resulted in the respective Serb lists amending their names.
The CEC also reported that it has received around 39.000 applications from Serb voters outside of Kosovo to be included in the electoral lists. However, during the verification process, only about 6.500 were accepted as valid.
The elections will be monitored by an EU Election Observation Mission, tasked with observing the electoral process in order to ensure its transparency and compliance with international standards for democratic elections and domestic law. Roberto Gaultieri has been appointed as the head of the Mission.
The Government of Serbia has adopted the decision to dissolve the assemblies of the four municipalities in northern Kosovo and appointed heads of interim bodies.
The upcoming local elections are accompanied by tensions especially within the Serb community as demonstrated by a number of incidents, including an attack on Oliver Ivanović’s family on the 12 September in Mitrovica.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Greater Albania Petition Ruffles Feathers in Montenegro

A petition calling for the creation of a “Natural" - enlarged - Albania has caused a flurry in Montenegro after a local Albanian leader said he intended to sign it.

Vaselj Sinistaj, leader of the Citizens Initiative, a small ethnic Albanian party in the Montenegrin government, caused a stir on Thursday after saying he intended to sign a petition calling for an enlarged "Natural" Albania.

The project, launched by Albanian historian Koco Danaj in 2010, calls for the creation of new borders for Albania along the lines of those prescribed in the declaration adopted when Albania declared independence from the town of Vlora on November 28, 1912.
The declaration called for Albania to include all four of the Ottoman units, known as vilayets, that were home to Albanians, including Presevo in present-day Serbia, Preveza, now in Greece and Skopje, now capital of Macedonia.
In the event, the great powers agreed on very restricted borders for the new Albanian state, excluding many majority-Albanian areas. As a result, almost half of all Albanians were left outside the new country.
Sinistaj said that signing the petition did not mean he supported the redrawing of state borders.
But some Montenegrin law experts said Sinistaj could still face a prison sentence for appearing to advocate a change of borders - to which Sinistaj said that he would be happy to answer a summons by the prosecution, if it was well argumented.
Mirko Stanic, spokesperson for the Social Democratic Party, SDP, a minor partner of the ruling coalition, avoided talk of prison sentences, but said on Wednesday that projects to form “large” and “natural” states had never brought anything good to the Balkans.
Stanic went on to dismiss Danaj as a marginal politician who was “seeking media attention."

15,000 Verdicts Not Enforced in Montenegro

Montenegro’s justice minister said that the huge number of court verdicts that remain unenforced was a threat to the credibility of the country’s legal system.

Milena Milosevic  

Justice minister Dusko Markovic warned on Tuesday that there were more than 15,000 verdicts which have yet to be enforced and said that action must be taken to resolve the problem to ensure that courts could uphold the country’s laws.

“This is the largest burden to legal safety in the country. If there is a final court decision which cannot be enforced, then it neither exists in the legal system nor has legal consequences,” Markovic said at a meeting of the Council of Foreign Investors in Montenegro.
Legislation which came into force in 2011 envisaged the introduction of public enforcement officers into the Montenegrin judiciary to accelerate the enforcement of court decisions.
These new officers are yet to start working, however, although the government plans for them to start work in January next year.
Markovic said at Tuesday’s meeting that this was one of the key goals for judicial reform in the country.
He also stressed the importance of constitutional amendments aimed at satisfying EU calls for the country’s judiciary to be freed from political influence.
Markovic said that the proposals for the new legislation were a fundamental guarantee of the rule of law and offered better protection for people’s interests.