Controversial proposal to name a street after Pavle Bulatović forwarded to the Ministry

The Council for Proposing Names of Settlements, Streets, and Squares of the Capital City Podgorica decided, on the eve of the holiday, 30 April, to refer the proposal by the Democrats councilors to name one of the streets in the capital after Pavle Bulatović, a wartime Minister of Internal Affairs and Defense, to the Ministry of Culture and Media for consideration of whether the proposal meets the criteria for prominent figures prescribed by the Law on Commemorative Monuments. The Human Rights Action (HRA), the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), and the Center for Women’s and Peace Education (ANIMA) believe that this decision by the Council is another indication of unacceptable manipulation with the wartime policies of the 1990s. Montenegro, in its bid for accession to the European Union, must more decisively demonstrate its ability to contribute to sustainable peace in the region, and this approach is harmful both for Montenegrin society and for substantive regional cooperation.

Regarding this issue, non-governmental organisations HRA, CGO and ANIMA wrote to Aleksa Bečić, the leader of Democratic Montenegro (Democrats) and Deputy Prime Minister, urging him to prevent further processing of the proposal that was submitted by his party’s councillors. That letter was supported by 23 non-governmental organisations in Montenegro, but Bečić never responded to it.

Representatives of HRA and CCE attended the session of the Council. President of the Council, Boris Pejović, from the Europe Now Movement (PES), allowed the HRA representative, Elizabeta Mrnjačević, to present arguments against the proposal during the session, but she was not given the opportunity to respond to the councillors who opposed them.

On that occasion, Mrnjačević presented the well-known arguments of CCE, HRA and Anima that Pavle Bulatović, in the capacity of Minister of the Interior, ordered the crime of Deportation of refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of May 1992, as determined by the final judgment of the High Court in Podgorica no. Ks. 6/12, dated 22 November 2012 (available on the portal This order meant that 66 persons of Bosniak nationality were handed over to be murdered by Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić. Only 12 of them survived the extradition. Pavle Bulatović was also the subject of investigation in other crimes, for which individuals under his command were suspected while he was serving as the Minister of Defence of FR Yugoslavia. Bulatović was assassinated in Belgrade in 2000, under unclear circumstances.

Additionally, she emphasized that publicly honouring Pavle Bulatović would imply glorification of the war crime of Deportation and would send a negative message to future generations. She drew attention to the responsibility of councillors in proposing figures that can further polarise society.

Six councillors from the Democrats, the New Serbian Democracy (NSD), the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the Bosniak Party (BS) participated in the discussion.

Councilors Mitar Vuković and Mitar Šušić strongly reacted to colleague Mrnjačević’s presentation. Vuković, from the Democrats, who is also among the proposers, stated that ” there is no evidence to condemn this procedure” and that “the Democrats proudly proposed Pavle Bulatović,” statring that “his biography and behavior are an example for future generations.” His party colleague Vladimir Vujović echoed a similar sentiment. He accepted the thesis that this was a “state mistake,” but noted that “when the state makes a mistake, it’s not just an individual, but the state leadership must be held accountable.” Mitar Šušić assessed that the NGO’s narrative was “flimsy and without legal basis.” He added that “Bulatović was the Minister of Internal Affairs at a challenging historical moment” and that he “acted according to his discretion, law, or orders.” He emphasized the importance of understanding the circumstances of the time when making decisions and “that we cannot judge his actions solely from today’s perspective.” He also stated that he does not want this proposal to become a “platform for promoting ideologies” and that if the proposal is adopted, NGOs will likely organize “performances, removal, or breaking of the sign with that name.”

Zoja Bojanić Lalović, a councillor from the DPS, emphasized that proposals for naming streets “should bring us together, not divide us”, and pointed out that it is obvious when 23 NGOs reacted there is a public reaction. Mihailo Andjušić, also from the DPS, pointed out that “the situation is debatable, to say the least”, and that the position of 23 NGOs should be respected. Addressing the proponents, he concluded that “it remains to be seen whether they were right, just like it remains to be seen whether you are right”.

Edin Tuzović, a councillor from the BS, assessed that “the 1990s were what they were”, and added that he believes that more time should pass before the streets can be named after people from that period.

Since some councillors requested evidence, we point out that the entire court file from the Deportation case is available at the following link, clearly showing that refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina were deported to be killed on the orders of Pavle Bulatović.

In the end, out of 12 members of the Council, nine voted councillors for this proposal, including PES, while DPS and BS did not vote.

Our organisations expect the Ministry of Culture and Media to put an end to this issue, as there are no legal grounds for naming a street in Podgorica after Bulatović.

At the same time, we express regret that such a proposal has arisen and that the highest officials cannot publicly take a stand on these issues, which indicate the content of their values and their commitment to the Europeanisation of the state.

Human Rights Action (HRA)
Centre for Civic Education (CCE)
ANIMA – Centre for Women’s and Peace Education