Centre for Civic Education (CCE) is concerned about the radicalization of public space, which is dangerously deepening by nationalist outbursts and the low-level level of political communication, whose culmination is stamped by some government officials. Recent statements by some ministers, accusations of so-called betrayal of the will of the people addressed to political opponents and discriminatory positioning of minority peoples are not the way to the necessary reduction of tensions and overcoming polarization in Montenegrin society.
The CCE finds it particularly problematic that even after a week, Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić and his closest associates did not distance themselves from the nationalist outbursts of Minister Vesna Bratić, at last week’s protest rally in Podgorica. Her fellow ministers silently followed her outburst and targeting of minorities, but also of Montenegrins, through the prism of a decision that must be an expression of public and state interest, and refers to the signing of the Fundamental Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church. To make things worse, some later stated that they did not see anything controversial in that.
Flammable speeches and appeasement of the masses are an irresponsible approach in politics because they can induce serious consequences, especially for those who are targeted in this way, but also for society as a whole. Politicians and other decision-makers are transient, and it is the obligation of all of us to preserve multiculturalism as one of the important pillars of Montenegrin society.
CCE appreciates that political action and argument-based fight are rare in Montenegro today, and that fight without any rules prevails, in which opponents are automatically declared as rivals and easily labelled with severe insults, which feeds the radicalization we have been warning about for a long time. Such perception of politics captures the potential to develop into a functioning democratic political community. Although they should be an example of the behavior and values on which a democratic political culture is built by nurturing a culture of dialogue with respect for different opinions, today we have a political speech in which a new cleavage has entered – into the righteous and the traitors, and on that basis, neither there is dialogue, nor social cohesion can be built.
This inappropriate political speech lowers the criteria of public speech and raises the tolerance of the community, which is getting used to this as something common, and which is very dangerous for society. It also limits our ability to agree on fundamental values and principles, including the way we discuss our differences and views on the development of society.
It is up to politicians to disprove the misconception that in a small community, such as Montenegro’s, differences are so irreconcilable and that mutual understanding is impossible, i.e. that there is only ‘for’ or ‘against’. This is the only way to practice politics for the common good and not for particular interests, power and personal benefits. In relation to this, the responsibility of politicians and their capacity to Europeanize and democratize Montenegro will be measured.
Petar Đukanović, Programme Director