The Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) has signed a Memorandum with the Parliament of Montenegro on the establishment of a Research and Documentation Center. The Memorandum was signed at the conference “Information Documentation Center – Justice for the Past, Pledge for the Future”, organized by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights within the project “Accountability for the Past” at the EU Info Center in Podgorica on 30th January, 2020.
General Secretary of the Parliament of Montenegro Aleksandar Jovicevic said that the project of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in cooperation with the Parliament of Montenegro “We are looking for responsibility for the past”, within which the Research Documentation Center in Montenegro, which already exists in the countries of the region, is extremely important for the future of Montenegro and our society.He, on behalf of the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Ivan Brajovic, signed the Memorandum and read the letter from President Brajovic:“I am closely following the initiatives of NGOs in Montenegro and I am happy to respond to calls for cooperation, appreciating their enthusiasm for social engagement.
The project of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in cooperation with the Parliament of Montenegro “We are looking for responsibility for the past”, within which the research and documentation center in Montenegro is already established, which already exists in the countries of the region, I consider extremely important for the future of our society.
During the course of this partnership project, the Documentation Center will collect relevant documents related to war crimes committed in the territory of Montenegro, with all statements, indictments, judgments and other sources related to the wartime past in the 1990s.
The Parliament of Montenegro has undertaken to keep the collected material and to make it permanently accessible to all interested parties.Montenegro is proud of its multi-ethnic, multi-confessional and multicultural harmony, and above all the fact that it maintained peace in the darkest times of the 1990s.
We are also proud of our history, humanity and the fact that in recent history we have been an oasis for those who lost their homes and their loved ones in the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Facts say that in those years, almost 20% of Montenegrin residents were refugees – people whose every story is a testimony to their personal but also our collective misfortune. Montenegro was also a temporary refuge for many, and many remained a permanent refuge.
However, in order for us to be proud of our humanity and state humanity, we must be prepared to face the dark side and inhumane acts that unfortunately also happened. Objectively and openly dealing with unfortunate episodes from the past of this region is a mandatory step in preventing future actions. In doing so, we also pay tribute to the victims of war crimes, but also clearly call for the responsibility of the perpetrators of those crimes to be determined. In a clear procedure and in prosecutorial proceedings we remove the collective responsibility, which we have often been inclined to do in this region.It is a well-known thesis that the process of dealing with the past is slow in all the countries of the former Yugoslavia.
I can partially agree with this, and call for each of us individually or within the institutions to contribute to dealing with the past as a prerequisite for securing long-term peace. Personally, I can proudly look back on my anti-war engagement and clear political orientation over more than 30 years of social work. Even then, I was aware of the importance of belonging to a society that is focused on the fight for peace, the preservation of human lives, property and dignity. Our view was directed towards the developed Western democracies and their values in political, economic, social and cultural terms. To me, those values were valid in the 1990s, just as they are today. That is why I feel a personal obligation, but also as the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, to support all projects and policies that contribute to young people today not wandering in social orientations, to resisting right-wing populist movements that offer easy solutions. I think it is challenging and complex for young people at all times, and easy solutions in real life do not exist or have a high price. With these easy offers to give ourselves to others who are bigger and know better what is good for us, we have faced many times throughout history, and the bill has always been ours alone. We were faced with such offers in the 90s, and we still face them today.But what disturbs the actors of such offerings is the awareness that the state of Montenegro is more powerful than any attempt to negate its history, statehood, its ancestral property and culture.
The rhetoric and politics of the 1990s in Montenegro will not dominate. That is why Montenegro is a NATO member, and therefore it will be the first next member of the European Union – a community that has ensured the longest peace and economic prosperity in the history of Europe and its members.“Aware of its true strength, the state of Montenegro, on behalf of the majority will of the citizens, calls for dialogue, for the sake of respecting its laws, common future and peace in this region. By signing the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Parliament of Montenegro and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, we are moving towards a project that will be our common testimony, a lasting reminder and pledge for the future of youth, peace in Montenegro, the Western Balkans region, Europe and around the world, ” in a letter from the President of the Assembly.
The dean of the Faculty of Law of Montenegro, Aneta Spaic, said that the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, with the aim of re-arranging territories, ethnic engineering, and the achievement of large-scale goals, had hitherto made the unimaginable first war on European soil since 1945.”We are witnessing conflicts of unprecedented proportions, mass violations of human rights, exodus of refugees caused by ethnic cleansing, war crimes, including crimes of genocide.” Conducting relevant investigations into human rights violations and identifying victims and perpetrators and establishing accountability for atrocities while providing appropriate referrals is a civilizational and ethnic obligation to victims and their families. And if the past thirty years seem to us to be a long enough period to overcome the consequences of the horrors of war, to deal with the open issues, the crimes committed, their causes and their responsibilities, it is still not over, said Spaic.She said that our recent past continues to seek justice as a pledge for new mutual trust and coexistence in this area. Hence, Spaic adds, the aim of this project is to remember and write about Strpci, Morinj, Bukovica and Kaludjerski Laz.”It is up to us today to carefully look at our past in order to share the future well, therefore we consider this project, which is primarily intended for young people, to be particularly important as it opens the possibility for mutual cooperation and understanding to reopen and consider issues from the period behind us.” . In order to achieve the best possible realization of the project, the Faculty of Law will make available its resources in order to give its professional contribution to education as an important part of the process of dealing with the past. Asking for specific knowledge of law, social and moral issues, causes and consequences of mass violations of human rights, war crimes against humanity and obligations of the state and society under national and international agreements are just some of the topics that will contribute to the understanding of the memorandum of the past, said Spaic.She believes that education is imperative for changing entrenched attitudes about intolerance, and the new generation should be nourished by civic values, acceptance of diversity and mutual respect for reputable legalities.”Transitional justice and multiethnic reconciliation are coexistence, not only contributing to peace and stability in our region, but one of the cornerstones of the rule of law democracy, a healthy and happy society we strive for.” That is why the project “justice for the past”, a pledge for the future, is a project to which we will pay special attention and treat with special care all the activities and results that result from it, said Spaic.The chairman of the steering committee of the Human Rights Initiative, Milan Radovic, said that important issues for society could no longer be dealt with by NGOs, but the society should come together and contribute strongly.”As you know, this is a very painful topic in Montenegro and we have never dealt with this topic seriously,” Radovic said.This was mostly done by NGOs and groups of citizens individually, especially when talking about individual war crimes cases that occurred here in Montenegro and for which Montenegro is responsible but simply never initiated systematic action by state institutions. From my perspective, this story is trying to be forgotten on the one hand or to change, so it is often nostrified and often silenced by the international community, how far Montenegro has been ready to face the past, the examples of final acquittals tell us, Radovic said.