news 29 Jan 18

Chetnik-Partisan ‘Reconciliation’ Sparks Row in Montenegro

Montenegro’s strongest opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, has been accused of attempting to rehabilitate the WWII monarchist Chetnik movement after it initiated a ‘declaration of reconciliation’ with the Communist Partisans.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
The Democratic Front's leaders. Photo: DF.

The signing of the Chetnik-Partisan ‘declaration of reconciliation’ by four parties within the Democratic Front opposition alliance sparked accusations on Monday that it was an attempt to rehabilitate the Chetniks’ WWII-era crimes and legitimise their ideology.

The Montenegrin Movement, an NGO, said that people should not reconcile with the Serbian “hegemonic ideology” of the Chetniks, who opposed the independence of Montenegro.

The Declaration on the Reconciliation of the Descendants of Partisans and Chetniks in Montenegro was signed on Saturday by the four opposition parties and will now be offered to other parties to sign.

Milan Knezevic, one of the Front’s leaders, described it as an attempt to end divisions and avoid further ideological confrontations.

Knezevic also said that the independence of Montenegro was not relevant to the declaration because it not supported by either Chetniks or Partisans during WWII.

“It is a notorious lie that the Partisan movement in the Second World War fought for an independent Montenegro... The Partisan struggle was aimed at creating a community of Yugoslav peoples and a society of social justice,” he said.

The Yugoslav Partisans, led by Josip Broz Tito, were essentially a Communist army, while the Chetniks, led by General Draza Mihailovic, were monarchists.

The two forces were bitter enemies during WWII, with the Partisans accusing the Chetniks of collaboration with the Germans. After the Communist takeover of Yugoslavia, the Chetniks were banned.

The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, also condemned the Democratic Front’s initiative, saying that it was disappointing in 2018 to talk about the Chetniks and Partisans, except in a historical context.

The DPS said it opposed reviving a topic that only provokes divisions within society.

The Democratic Front has also been criticised for using the reconciliation declaration to deflect accusations that it is an alliance of Serb nationalists ahead of the presidential election in Montenegro on April 15.

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