A representative of the NGO Mladiinfo Montenegro attended an online conference on the fight against organized crime in Montenegro, with special reference to the fight against drug trafficking, organized by TV Vijesti on December 29, 2020, via the Zoom platform.
The conference was the final event of a project supported by the US Embassy in Podgorica, through which a series of shows “Put osvete” (The Road to Revenge) was realized.
The goal of the conference was to talk to the key actors in charge of the fight against organized crime, about the current problems and challenges, after the broadcast of the series, but also to present potential solutions for improving the existing practice.
The conference discussed specific achievements, problems and challenges in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime.
The conference was opened by Dritan Abazović, Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro and Marijana Bojanić, Executive Director of Vijesti Television.
Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazović said that the ways of revenge took many lives and that the priority of the Government is the fight against organized crime and corruption, but that the fight is not possible if all segments of society do not contribute.
He said that so far, the institutions of the system have not responded to the challenges that occurred in the previous period.
Abazović, who is in charge of the work of the security services, said that we know that over the years we have had attacks on journalists, shootings at journalists who investigated important segments – cigarette smuggling or other criminal activities that took place in Montenegro.
“I am not sure how much the previous set of authorities showed the political will to face these problems, but our obligation to the citizens is to demonstrate such a will. When all the capacities of all institutions are strengthened, we will start a decisive fight”, Abazović announced at the conference.
He emphasized that, as far as the Government is concerned, there will no longer be any compromise regarding corruption and organized crime.
“There will be no connection between the structures, which currently represent the Montenegrin leadership, and the criminal structures. If they are identified, we will cut them to the root, regardless of whether they are our colleagues, closest associates or people from the Government. That has not been the case so far. The problem of Montenegro is that we had a close connection between public office holders and people who were engaged in criminal activities, without that, organized crime cannot even function. I believe that any criminal structure is not stronger than the state, regardless of our modest capacities at the moment”, Abazović said.
He also said that the Government must ensure that investigative journalists work completely unhindered, in maximum protection, and that, if Montenegro is committed to the European path, media freedom should be very high on the list of priorities.
He congratulated the organizer on everything and said that they should continue with the same zeal and desire for the paths of revenge to become barren, and that the progress of our society will be a highway on which we will walk unhindered, the Deputy Prime Minister concluded.
The executive director of TV Vijesti, Marijana Bojanić, said that as a citizen, she hopes that more attention will be paid to this topic in the future, and that the competent authorities will work in the public interest, and that various criminal confrontations will fill newspaper columns less and be “breaking news” on our platforms.
“Unfortunately, the level of organized crime and corruption in Montenegro is so high that it has inevitably affected all spheres of our lives. There is no economic progress, we must be aware of that, in countries where corruption and organized crime are serious problems. In such countries, the businesses of privileged groups are flourishing, which are ravaging and ruling our country. Unfortunately, we are witnesses that something like this has been happening in our country for years and even decades. That is why the topic we are going to talk about today is extremely important for the democratization of the whole society. Regardless of the fact that there is a legal framework that guarantees the independence of the judiciary, the European Commission assessed that the Montenegrin judiciary and prosecutor’s office are still considered vulnerable to political interference”, Bojanić said.
Until the police, the prosecutor’s office and the judiciary start working professionally and independently of the centers of power, there can be no serious progress, she said.
Bojanić said that TV Vijesti launched this project, in order to once again draw the attention of all citizens, but also the competent authorities, to the most cruel criminal showdown in the history of Montenegro.
“A criminal showdown that took dozens of lives, and in which numerous innocent victims also died. Unfortunately, to this day, we have not seen justice for a large number of perpetrators of the conflict between the “Škaljari” and “Kavač” drug cartels. Therefore, we believe that the institutions of this country are obliged to do more, not only to shed light on the crimes committed and bring those responsible to justice, but also to ensure that the citizens of Montenegro are no longer afraid, if they take to the streets, of being accidental victims of criminal clans confrontations.”
She also commented on the journalist Olivera Lakić, who paid for the professional journalistic fight for the truth about cigarette smuggling, with threats, assassination attempts on her, wounds, and there is bounty on her head, without the state providing her with protection.
“In a democratic society, journalists must be free to warn of the connection between organized crime and the state, democratic changes must also be measured by the safety of journalists”, Bojanić emphasized.
Attacks on journalists make it impossible to establish democracy, they do not allow it to develop, because journalists are the ones who investigate and bring information that is important to everyone, concluded Bojanić.