News 26 Oct 12

Facing the Past Shapes Montenegro's Local Government

Positive Montenegro is ready to work with opposition parties in local government, provided that they condemn war crimes from the fall of the former Yugoslavia.

Milena Milosevic
BIRN
Podgorica

The need to face up to the past has emerged as a game changer in Montenegro’s post-electoral deals.

The general election on October 14 was run alongside local elections in the three municipalities of Budva, Niksic and Kotor.

Three opposition formations, Positive Montenegro, PCG, the Socialist People's Party, SNP, and the Democratic Front, DF, all made electoral gains in Niksic, the country's second largest town.

Positive Montenegro, however, has not yet committed itself to going into a coalition.

The party said that it was ready to work with the other opposition parties but only if they are willing to accept its political principles, which include distancing themselves from the policies of the past, or more precisely, from Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader.

Positive Montenegro wants the other parties to openly condemn  the war crimes committed on the territory of former Yugoslavia, and  the Srebrenica genocide in particular.  It also wants an expression of respect for decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

The massacre of 7,000 Bosniaks in Srebrenica by the Bosnian Serb army in July 1995 was classified as genocide in 2007 by the International Court for Justice.

Positive Montenegro's platform for talks with opposition parties in Niksic references the decision.

Miodrag Lekic, the leader of the DF, a broad political alliance which emerged as the strongest opposition force after the October 14 vote, has condemned  the Srebrenica massacre, but has failed to characterise is as genocide.

“Something happened at  Srebrenica that is  more terrible than genocide. There's no adequate word for that,“ Lekic said in a TV interview prior to the election.

Some  Bosniak intellectuals and politicians in the country have criticized Lekic for sidestepping the question of  whether there was a genocide in Srebrenica.

The SNP, on the other hand, despite its attempts to reform itself, is known for its support for Milosevic in the late nineties, even when Montenegro's mainstream leadership was distancing itself from Serbia.

The first meetings of the three parties, aimed at forming the local government in Niksic are scheduled for Friday afternoon.

The Positive Montenegro's list of conditions also includes expressions of  respect for Montenegro's independence and state symbols, a preparedness to cooperate with Kosovo’s local authorities, and the elimination of all types of corruption and organized crime in both the local authorities and state enterprises.

 

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