In early December, the North Atlantic Alliance in the Balkans had made an action which Moscow characterized as an “expansion”: Montenegro received an invitation to join the bloc. Joyful accepting of this invitation by the authorities took place under the vigorous expression of discontent from the part of the overwhelming majority of the Montenegrins. Protests are continuing even now: Podgorica have about six months to abandon this gamble.
How reacted the Balkan country on the decision of NATO member countries, which alternatives offers the opposition, what are the prospects of relations between Montenegro and Russia due to the fateful events, – explained the chairman of one of the major political forces in the country, New Serbian Democracy party, Andrija Mandic in an exclusive interview with News Front.
News Front: Good afternoon, Mr. Mandic. The first question concerns the important event, I think it is important for the whole world: on December 2, Montenegro received an invitation to join NATO. What do you think about this, and what do you think would happen to the state if it did join the Alliance?
Andrija Mandic: The fact that NATO has sent an invitation to Montenegro is a big mistake. First of all because NATO member states know that almost two-thirds of Montenegrins oppose the membership in the military alliance. But, unfortunately, we have the puppet government, which is controlled by the Western international centers. In fact, they were pushing our power that it had requested an invitation to NATO, and then in some expeditious way 28 states made a decision and the invitation was sent.
Especially dangerous for Montenegro that a decision will be taken by Parliament, against the will of the citizens. In our Parliament, a large number of members did not follow true Party’s suggestions, from which they were elected, and the programs on the basis of which they got parliamentary mandates. More than 15% of Parliament are independents, ie, apostates from the parties who gained votes during previous elections. And they, of course, or some of them are using the opportunity to vote for the government proposal by corruption.
We want the situation in Montenegro to be resolved through the organization of a referendum, corresponding the relevant legal provisions. This is the only way to resolve and overcome the crisis. It’s clear, that it is necessary to ensure high standards of this referendum, as far as Montenegrin authorities are known for stealing during the elections and the referendum on state-legal status of Montenegro in 2006 was carried out as well as were implemented the elections.
In Montenegro there are a number of people who are in favor of NATO, and it is a minority. And no fewer Montenegrins wish to Montenegro entered a military alliance with Russia, became a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. But the majority of Montenegrins are realizing the watershed and want Montenegro to have a military neutrality, and the big powers would guaranteed this neutrality. For us, for the Orthodox people who live in Montenegro, especially important the fact that Russia can guarantee those military neutrality. You know that Russia was protecting and defending Montenegro from the Ottoman Empire for 300 years. For us, for the people, is important that the issue of guarantees by the big powers was also attended by Russia’s warranty.
News Front: How do you see the future of Russian-Montenegrin relations in the light of recent developments concerning your country?
Andrija Mandic: Montenegro must build the best relations with Russia, as far as it possible. I say this not only because of our historical ties, but also for the future. Montenegro is a tourist country, and, above all, the greatest number of tourists who visit Montenegro are the Russians. In addition, they are more solvent guests spend the most on the Montenegrin coast. They are also the biggest investors in Montenegro who buy housing, support building, and trying to run the business in Montenegro. After them go the Serbs, the Serbian citizens.
In that way should assess the situation serious and responsible power, it must build a special relationship with Russia. And, of course, because of its geographical position it also should have a good and close relationship with Serbia. What do the Montenegrin authorities under the supervision of the Western international centers – is the fulfillment of the interests of those centers, not the Montenegrins. Thus the solutions that are absolutely not to honor us, the citizens of our country.
Here I am referring to a bad attitude, and betrayal by Milo Djukanovic during the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, the destruction of common state with Serbia, the recognition of the pseudo-state of Kosovo, sanctions by Russia, efforts to support Kosovo in UNESCO, that it will took care of our shrines, Serbian shrines in Kosovo. Montenegrin authorities have taken wrong and openly anti-Serbian and anti-Russian actions, but in response, neither from Russia nor from Serbia was made hostile gesture against Montenegro. We were always supported and helped, encouraged and seen as a brotherly country. Today, modern Montenegro had passed the Rubicon, and it is obvious that it needs a democratic solution. I believe that the change of power in Montenegro, more precisely, with the organization of the first legitimate early elections, the situation will change and we will not march in the same ranks with Albania and Turkey against Russia and Serbia.
News Front: You and your party favor for military neutrality or cooperation with other forces, instead of joining NATO?
Andrija Mandic: In our political association are represented parties that stand for the closest cooperation with Russia. But we, as real politicians, believe that Montenegro should be neutral, because the mutual interest could appear here. It is a point of contact for those who are for Russia and those – for NATO.
It is important that the decision was taken in a democratic manner, so that the citizens of Montenegro have expressed their will freely. And I have no doubt that the majority, at least two-thirds of those who will come to the referendum are against NATO membership.
News Front: On Saturday, December 12, you are organizing a protest rally in Podgorica against joining NATO. Tell us how the meeting will look like, who besides you are planning to take part in it, what are you going to require and from whom?
Andrija Mandic: All parliamentary parties, who are against the accession of Montenegro to NATO, are involved. In addition to the New Serbian Democracy, they are: the Democratic People’s Party, the Working Party, the Party of Pensioners and the disabled, the Movement for Pljevlja (a city in northern Montenegro – Ed.). There are also important non-profit organizations and movements that resist the accession of Montenegro into NATO. Also will be the organization’s of 1991-99 war veterans, former members of the Yugoslav People’s Army. The former Prime Minister, who led the country during the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, will make a speech during a rally.
It will be a broad campaign, which we will send a message to NATO member states, above all, that Montenegro does not want to be part of their union, and at the same time to the government of Montenegro. They can’t agree with fraudulent retraction of Montenegro into NATO, firstly there’s a need to check the will of citizens during the referendum.
Original interview from Oksana Sazonova, News Front Serbia