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Letter to Vladimir Bilčík


Petition to the European Parliament

On the occasion of your visit to Montenegro, we are writing to you to share our deep concern about the clericalisation of Montenegrin society, the suppression of media freedoms, the collapse of the concept of a civil state, multicultural society and many human rights violations.

Serbian versus Montenegrin flags. Podgorica, May 2006.

We earnestly followed your discussion at the plenary session of the European Parliament on the outcomes of the Conference at Brdo near Kranj, when you pointed out the need for Montenegrin politicians to demonstrate clear pro-European action instead of uttering mere proclamatory catchphrases pseudo-advocating for Europe.

We, as concerned citizens, intellectuals, artists, journalists, are looking forward to your arrival in Montenegro, convinced that you will re-emphasise your messages and inform the government, the current parliamentary majority and the president of the parliament that pro-European action primarily implies freedom of media and expression.

In light of the above, we wish to inform you of only a few examples of intimidation of independent media and suppression of freedom of media in Montenegro:

  • Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazović’s statement that the critical and independent media portal CDM should cease to exist, along with an invitation to advertisers not to advertise on this portal and to citizens to remove the CDM application;
  • Purges and employment based on the political party affiliation at local broadcaster RTV Nikšić;
  • Threats made by Deputy Prime Minister Abazović at the parliamentary security committee, after the violent enthronement of the SOC bishop in Cetinje, to the editor-in-chief of Pobjeda, Draško Đuranović, foregrounding the question of whether “Đuranović should have been arrested like the former FOS Media journalist”;
  • Threats made by Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic that, unless it is placed under the full party control of the new parliamentary majority, the public broadcasting service RTCG will experience a “Greek scenario”;
  • The election of the RTCG Council in the parliament of Montenegro (mentioned in the European Commission report), the illegal election of the RTCG Director-General Boris Raonic (despite warnings from the RTCG legal service), purges and party employment at RTCG (dozens of people have been dismissed, some because they supported colleague Tanja Šuković; doyen of Montenegrin journalism, Branko Vojičić, was fired after he refused the job offered to him as a novice reporter); revanchism, degradation (in cases where this is not possible, demotion of job titles/responsibilities), an attack on RTCG journalist Tanja Šuković by the RTCG management, problematic changes to the code of ethics that leave room for the director-general to interpret them arbitrarily, and continuous encouragement of an atmosphere of tension and fear;
  • Death threats to renown journalist, author and host of the highly popular RTCG show Dvogled, Duška Pejović;
  • Publication of an illegally recorded conversation between public broadcasting service journalist Tamara Nikčević and her guest, which preceded the show, by parliament President Aleksa Bečić (neither the journalist nor the guest knew they were being recorded; publishing of such a recording is prohibited under Montenegrin law);
  • Explicit threats and insults of the cabinet of the parliament president against Tamara Nikčević and other outspoken journalists, but also the lawsuit of Democratic Montenegro against Nikčević, which is a precedent in Montenegrin politics, directly intimidating the journalistic profession, in general;
  • The labelling of independent journalists as “mafia mercenaries” and independent media as “slaves to the former regime” by representatives of the government and the parliamentary majority;
  • Death threats to top journalists Darko Šuković and renowned regional columnist Dragan Bursać, for which the defendant received a suspended prison sentence of four months;
  • Brutal and open threats to the journalist of Gradska Televizija, Mirka Dević, sent from the highest state and political party positions, as well as from the bot-meme network under the control of the government and the Serbian Orthodox Church;
  • Fake news from RTCG that during the protest in Cetinje against the violent enthronement of the Metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the police were shot at, which contributed to the unprecedented and excessive use of force by the police against demonstrators;
  • Radical changes in the media scene since August last year; change in the ownership structure of many media outlets and their transformation into pro-Russian and pro-Serbian propaganda outlets;
  • Financial pressure on independent media, which resulted in their endangerment and, most recently and blatantly, almost leading to the shutdown of the Luča portal.

We are convinced that the key to solving the European problem lies in categorically expressing zero tolerance for constant pressure on journalists and threats to journalists and stopping the shutdown of independent media. 

The brutal media engineering that is happening in Montenegro before the eyes of the European Union and the United States has resulted in the rapid strengthening of anti-democratic, and anti-Western policies, on the one hand, and radical pro-Russian and pro-Serbian ones, on the other, thus minimising the space for any progressive and pro-Western policies.

Finally, we hope that you may heed the voice of concerned Montenegrin citizens, as you did the European voice of the citizens, referred to in the speech at the beginning of this letter.

Thankful in advance. We look forward to meeting you soon.

Sincerely,

A group of concerned citizens of Montenegro:

Rajko Cerović, publicist

Lidija Vukčević, writer 

Marko Špadijer, publicist

Živko Andrijašević, historian, university professor

Maja Bogojević, film theorist

Nada Bukilić, drama writer

Andrej Nikolaidis, publicist and writer

Jasna Tatar Anđelić, university professor

Dragan B.Perović, publicist

Draško Đuranović, journalist

Branko Vojičić, journalist

Milorad Pustahija, columnist and publicist

Kaćuša Krsmanović, journalist

Marija Jovićević, journalist

Jadranka Rabrenović, journalist

Adem Ado Softić, writer

Mirka Dević, journalist

Aleksandar Sekulović, journalist

MA Novak Adzic, historian, lawyer, university professor

Milorad Bajković, architect

Rosanda Mučalica, journalist

Sreten Vujović, vice president of the Montenegrin PEN Centre, academy member DANU

Tinka Đuranović, manager in journalism

Tanja Šuković, journalist

Darko Šuković, journalist

Predrag Peđa Vušurović, civic activist

Seka Metđonaj, writer

Dragan Bursać, professor of philosophy, publicist, journalist

Aleksandra Bosnić Đurić, culturologist

Duško Mihajlović, journalist

Dragana Erjavšek, journalist

Nenad Zečević, journalist

Manja Simonović, student at the University of Montenegro

Šeki Radončić, journalist and publicist

Zoran Darmanović, journalist

Vanja Šćekić, journalist

Snežana Rakonjac, journalist

Milica Babić, journalist

Žarko Đuranović, engineer

Tamara Nikčević, journalist and editor 

Arnela Bučan, political scientist

Slavica Kruščić Vasović, journalist 

Radmila Uskoković-Ivanović, journalist

Dražen Drašković, journalist

Nataša Đukanović, pharmacist

Božana Stanković Babačić, civic activist

Aleksandra Mitrović, civic activist

Hajdana Huter, librarian, civic activist

Jason Gold, photographer, writer

Komsa Prijić, designer

Svetlana M. Pajovic, civic activist

Tanja Pavićević, journalist

Branislav Pešić, analyst

Aida Petrovic, peace activist and women’s rights activist

Anica Obradović, sociologist

Aleksandra Radoman-Kovačević, education expert

MA Sava Kovačević, teacher, education expert

Aleksandar Radoman, philologist, university professor

Jelena Šušanj, PhD candidate, university professor

Ljiljana Zeković, art historian

Nikola Popović, philologist, university professor 

Boban Batrićević, historian, university professor

Ivana Rondović, PR manager

Dejan Batrićević, graphic designer

Ivana Vujović, civic activist

Danilo Radulović, civic activist

Sofija Kalezić, philologist, university professor

Sanja Orlandić, philologist, university professor 

Adnan Čirgić, philologist, university professor 

Milan Marković, PhD Candidate, philologist, university professor 

Milutin Mijović, librarian

Branislav Marović, historian 

Đorđe Šćepović, writer and publicist

Ivana Radoman, English language and literature professor

Balša Knežević, journalist

Adriana Žolja Bošković, journalist

Jelena Šćepanović, journalist

Senka Radoman, civic activst

Vlado Radoman, civic activist

Miloš Radonjić, political scientist

Stanka Radonjić, meteorological technician

Milovan Radonjić, poet

Predrag V. Malešević, lawyer

Maja Miličković, Italian language and literature professor

Gorana Pavićević Ćetković, economist

Maja Jovanović, economist

Slobodanka Perović, economist

Maja Brnović, economist

Vukota Vukotić, historian

Rajko Perović, tourism worker

Rajko Radulović, drama writer 

Ana Pajović, MA in literature

PhD Dragan Bogojević, university professor 

Ana Vujosevic, actress, Montenegro National Theatre

Ivana Mrvaljević, artist, actress

Petra Ivanović, MA in music pedagogy and international relations

Ivan Ivanović, professor

Radan Raičević, civic activist

Slobodan Jovanović, publicist

Suzana Pajović, artist and professor

Nina Redžepagić, communications expert

Malik Kovačević, law student at the University of Montenegro

Danijela Brajović, artist

Zdravko Šoć, lawyer

Esad Šainović, economist

Jelena Marković, Faculty for Montenegrin Language and Literature

Panto Pavićević, civilian

Aleksandra Popović, journalist

Snežana Burzan Vuksanović, manager in culture, journalist

Bojana Dabović, journalist

Danijela Bokan, education expert and professor of Italian

Predrag Marković, Montenegrin American Association CETINJE

Mihailo Mandić, Montenegrin Ethnic Association of Australia

Dejan Ivanović, Montenegrin – German Association MonteKöln

Emira M Ličina – President eMDe Alijanse – Coalition of Montenegrin Associations in Germany 

Gojko Krivokapić, civilian, Sidney

Stanka Ercegovac, Melbourne

Vesna Špadijer, Sidney

Vasilije Špadijer, Sidney

Nebojša Niković, New Zealand

Josip Lukić, Melbourne

Marko Lukić, Melbourne

Jelena Špadijer, Liverpool

Milena Špadijer, Casulla

Ivo Đukanovic, San Francisko

Mirza Redzić, Sarajevo

Danijela Đurđević, Italija

Sreten Đuretić, civic activist

Srdja Pavlovic, historian. University of Alberta, Canada

Nino Pajović, London

Vladimir Bilčík chairs the European Parliament’s delegation to the EU-Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee.

Photograph courtesy of Risto Bozovic/marijanana. Published under a Creative Commons license.