Milo Is Leaving …. Again

Adelina Marini

We have singled out several topics in today’s press in the countries of the former Yugoslavia – the Serbian-Croatian spy affair, the Serbian-Montenegrin spy affair, Serbia’s EU membership negotiations, and the formation of a Kosovo army. The subject that troubles the region the most, however, is the decision of long-standing Montenegro Prime Minister Milo Đukanović to resign from the post. The news is reported by most media in countries of the region. Croatian Jutarnji list reports in a short article, that Milo Đukanović has proposed last night to the presidency of the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) that Duško Marković be nominated for prime minister. The newspaper reports that the DPS did not explain the motivation for choosing Marković.

The subject is developed way more in Serbian media. Blic reports that the DPS head committee will make a decision on the party presidency’s proposal to have Marković as the nominee for the Prime Minister’s post after the October 16th elections, which were closely won by the party. Blic reports that the decision did not surprise the Montenegrin public, although Đukanović has not discussed his future during the election campaign, nor before that. The newspaper reminds that this will be the third withdrawal of Đukanović from Montenegrin politics and it is very likely that he will run for Montenegro president in the 2018 elections. The newspaper also offers a thorough profile of Duško Marković.

He has in his biography the position of Director of the Montenegro National Security Agency and since 2010 he has been Milo Đukanović ‘s right-hand man in the government, where he held the post of deputy PM in charge of the political system (sic), domestic and foreign policy, and minister of justice. Montenegrin Vijesti also reminds that this is the third withdrawal of Đukanović from the Montenegro political scene. He left the executive branch in October of 2006, but returned as head of government as soon as February of 2008 following the resignation, due to health reasons, of now deceased Željko Šturanović.

The second withdrawal of Mr Đukanović happened in 2010, when he stated that he wanted to step down and give way to the young in a moment when Montenegro has become a stable state. At that time, he handed his post to Deputy PM and Finance Minister Igor Lukšić. Đukanović came back to power again two years later – in 2012, reports Vijesti, adding that in March Đukanović hinted at his third decision in an interview for the Russian TV channel Dozhd (rain). “It is time for us in Montenegro to think about the new generation, which will write the new pages of the history of Montenegrin democratic and economic development”, said the Montenegro prime minister in the interview.

Milo Đukanović was the first prime minister of Montenegro, who appeared for a hearing before the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee shortly before the parliamentary elections. You can read more about that hearing here

Serbia like something out of a John le Carré novel

Croatian Jutarnji list published today an interesting follow-up to the story of Čedo Čolović, who was arrested in Serbia in the beginning of September on accusations in espionage on behalf of Croatia. The case was very dubious even back then, and what is more, Čedo Čolović was sentenced very quickly. According to Jutarnji, the reason behind this is that Serbian authorities have thus made it impossible for Čolović to testify in a war crimes court case in Croatia. 57-year old Čolović was a lieutenant of the army of the self-proclaimed Autonomous Republic of Serbian Krajina. He was the key witness in the court case against the Major General of the same army Borislav Đukić and seven more former officers of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and the Serbian paramilitary. Đukić and the other seven have been charged by the Municipal Court of Split in war crimes – a total of 118 murders and five rapes.

Đukić was handed over to Croatia by Montenegro in March and is the highest ranking member of the JNA and the Army of Serbian Krajina to be prosecuted in Croatia, reports the newspaper. According to the edition, the indictment is largely based on testimonies by Čedo Čolović and other members of the Krajina army. Jutarnji’s sources claim that, using the spy affair, Belgrade has practically eliminated a key witness, for this would be a direct proof of Serbia’s collaboration, as a legal successor to Yugoslavia, in the war with Croatia. “In other words, Đukić is a direct proof of the link between the political and military elite of Yugoslavia and the political and military elite of Serbian Krajina. This is the obvious reason for undertaking a large scale operation for Đukić’s defence, which has beyond doubt been sanctioned and coordinated at the very top of Serbian authorities”, claims the newspaper and adds that the spy affair was made up by the secret services, media, and the neighbourhood, not specifying which neighbouring states are envisioned.

Serbia is like Casablanca

The Montenegro spy affair has some development already, despite data still being scarce. Serbian state television channel RTS quotes an interview by Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs Nebojša Stefanović for Prva television, in which he states that the member of the criminal police management has transferred intelligence to a Western agency. The collaboration of the accused went on for a significantly longer period of time than a few months, claims Mr Stefanović. The TV channel in the meantime reports that the American ambassador to Belgrade, Kyle Scott, refused comment on Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić’s statement that someone in the leadership of the criminal police has been delivering information to foreign intelligence officers and embassies. In his statement, Vučić said that in Serbia foreign services have increased their activities, both from the east and the west.

Macedonian Dnevnik reports that Western and Eastern intelligence agencies’ activity in Serbia is no surprise, considering the policy of the Serbian PM for collaboration with the USA and EU as well as with Russia and China. “This country began to look like Casablanca of old as a place, where the interests of various intelligence agencies collide, who wish to infiltrate state police and other structures. The new moment now is that the Serbian prime minister has decided to publicly declare that, despite the possibility that these agencies will not forgive him. The surprising moment in Vučić’s statement is that he reveals that one of the Eastern or Western agencies has recruited a high-ranking Serbian functionary from the security agencies”, reports Dnevnik.

The cherry on the cake of the Serbian spy story is the news that intelligence officer number one of Russia, Nikolai Patrushev, is arriving to Belgrade. He will meet President Tomislav Nikolić. Topics in their conversation will include the stability of Kosovo, but also the introduction of sanctions against Russia.

Serbia will not fail if it opens no chapters

Tanjug reported that, according to the Slovak Presidency of the Council, there is currently no agreement among all 28 EU member states for the opening of new negotiation chapters with Serbia. On this occasion, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dačić stated that it is even better that no new chapters will be opened in October because of the conditions being imposed regarding Kosovo, rather than hurting the national interest. “Whoever wants talks and negotiations with Serbia is welcome, but the national interest must be respected. We are not a punching bag for blows and ultimatums”, said Dačić, quoted by Danas. “You are not thinking that Serbia will fail if a negotiation chapter is not opened in October, December, or June of next year, are you?”, he asked.

Politika reports on page one of the possibility that Kosovo will circumnavigate legal procedures and establish an independent Kosovo army. The newspaper claims that Kosovo’s request is already gaining international support. “Not only did the American ambassador to Priština, Greg Delawie, state that the existing security forces in Kosovo will be transformed into an army, but the British government also stated through some curious acrobatics of the diplomatic language that it will reinforce its contingent in KFOR until an independent security for Kosovo is formed”, reports Politika. For this to happen, however, support is necessary from Serbian MPs in the Kosovo parliament, but it is entirely possible, according to Politika, that a way around is found and the topic becomes a part of the Brussels’ dialogue with Serbia.

Republika Srpska in BiH decorates war criminals

Dragan Bursać asks in the Bosnian internet edition 6YKA “Why do we so painfully love our criminals?”. Republika Srpska’s parliament Speaker Nedeljko Čubrilović recently awarded mentions of gratitude to Radovan Karadžić, Biljana Plavšić, Momčilo Kraišnik, and post-mortem to Nikola Koljević. “In other words, the Republika Srpska entity de-facto recognises, values, and decorates its war criminals. It is needless to remind that word is of people who brought the most shame and reproach to their people. Word is of people, convicted of genocide and the heaviest war crimes after the Second World War”, writes the author. “These are actually not some words of gratitude, but certificates, which certify the continuity of the criminal policy from Karadžić onward. Now just imagine how would it look if Willy Brandt decorated Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels …? Unthinkable? Well, it is all clear then”, ends his commentary Dragan Bursać.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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