A representative of Mladiinfo Montenegro attended the conference “Discourses of Radicalization: The Impact of Public Discourse on Strengthening Ethnonationalism in Montenegro” organized by the NGO CDT and the National Operational Team (NOT) in cooperation with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, held on December 18, 2020 in CentreVille hotel in Podgorica.
The conference had two panels discussing the role of political parties and the media in combating ethnonationalism.
The conference was opened by the Minister of the Interior Sergej Sekulović, the Executive Director of the CDT Dragan Koprivica and the Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Anne-Sietske Brinks.
CDT Executive Director Dragan Koprivica said that in Montenegro, whose society 10 years ago could boast of advanced attitudes, there were retrograde trends in the growth of ethnonationalism, reduction of tolerance, promotion of dangerous political ideas, inclinations towards conspiracy theories. He added that, due to the lack of effects of social reforms, a large number of people live on the edge of existence, there is no sense of justice, the rule of law and equality before the law. He also stated that the state enabled the entry of dubious capital, and thus various economic influences that easily turned into political influences.
Due to all the above, he concludes that the stated facts and data that are analyzed indicate that our society is in trouble and that there is a significant field for the spread of extreme ideologies.
Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Anne Sietske Brinks, assessed that there is no single recipe for the fight against radicalization and that this is a topic in which international cooperation is extremely important. “Public figures must set an example by their own behavior”, she added.
Brinks stated that, in order to fight radicalization, we must understand its causes and symptoms, and that it is important that we all participate in it, from the national to the local level.
“Radicalization begins with polarization in society, when differences begin to grow into contradictions,” Brinks said.
Minister Sekulović began his presentation with, in his opinion, a fundamental question: what is it that makes an objectively good man become obsessed with ideology and do evil, thinking he is doing good.
He emphasized that in Montenegro it is easy to slip into a collective identity to the extent of “going blind to everything else” and that destructiveness can easily occur.
He added that line ministries should fight against violent extremism and radicalism by creating strategic frameworks, preventive methods and responsibility in the speech of public figures.
The first panel “The Role of Political Parties: Radicalization of Political Discourse” was addressed by Dragan Ivanović, president of the SNP MPs’ club, Miloš Konatar, president of the “Black and White” coalition, Danijel Živković, president of the DPS MPs’ club and Ervin Ibrahimović, president of the Bosniak Party MPs’ Club.
Miloš Konatar said that Montenegro should turn to the future, and not stay in the past of ethnic conflicts, and that we should look to Europe, which created a strong community after the Second World War on the basis of anti-fascism.
“We are talking about 1918 in the Assembly in 2020. We are talking about chetniks, partisans, about ’45, we are talking about the events that took place in the 1990s. The 1990s were 30 years ago. And 12 years after the bloodiest conflict, Europe has laid the foundations of today’s European Union. I ask myself and you too whether we will remain trapped in the past and talk about partisans, chetniks, Greens, 1918 or 2028, I choose to talk about 2028. We cannot change the past”, said Konatar.
Danijel Živković said that the fact is that Montenegrin society is divided and that this division goes back deep into history.
The reasons for strengthening ethnonationalism can be found in the Law on Freedom of Religion, which ignited passions from the previous period and significantly influenced the deepening of divisions in society caused by insufficiently good attitude towards that law, said Živković.
Živković agreed with Konatar that we must look to the future.
Ervin Ibrahimović said that we must learn from events from the past, but that we should not go back to the past and that we must nurture a culture of memory.
He added that, when everyone expected that after the referendum on the independence of Montenegro, the divisions would disappear, from various political calculations, not only inside, but also outside, ethnonationalism was strengthened in Montenegro, which did no good to anyone.
Dragan Ivanović said that being in the parliament means taking on a role that must be taken seriously in order to be a guarantee to the citizens who follow the sessions of the parliament that the deputies will deal with solving the problem of ethnonationalism through their example.
He also pointed out that we must create an environment of unity in Montenegro because we are aware of each other and that we must deal with the economic situation together, because, as he stated, if we lived better, we would forget the harmful messages we can hear in the campaigns of many political parties.
The maximum commitment of individuals and political groups is needed for Montenegro to get rid of stereotypes related to divisions and ethnonationalism in the Balkans, concluded Ivanović.