By Zoran Darmanović
It is hard to believe that a government set up by those who don’t believe in it and who don’t back it but still are going to install it, will be able to tackle the accumulated economic, health and other issues that Montenegro has been coping with. But, let’s wait, since their boss compared them with the apostles, maybe have some super powers and will be able to “move mountains by the faith”, as the Prime Minister-designate said.
Montenegro is about to embark on an unprecedented experiment after 2 December, when a parliamentary session is scheduled and a new majority is supposed to elect a new government. We will have the smallest government in Europe, the composition of which was strongly influenced by the Serbian Orthodox Church, a government that will have the “minority support” of the majority of MPs from the list led by Prime Minister-designate, Mr Zdravko Krivokapić. We will have a government in which, for the first time, there will be no representatives of ethnic minority parties.
The Prime Minister-designate revealed the composition of the new government on Friday. Almost three months after the parliamentary elections and nearly two months since he was appointed as the prime minister-designate, he presented the names of 12 ministers – apostles plus the deputy prime minister. The press conference was held in CentreVille Hotel in Podgorica and here are the ministers in Mr Krivokapić’s government: Ms Tamara Srzentić – Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media; Ms Olivera Injac – Ministry of Defense; Mr Sergej Sekulović – Ministry of Interior; Mr Ratko Mitrović – Ministry of Ecology; Mr Đorđe Radulović – Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mr Jakov Milatović – Ministry of Economic Development; Mr Mladen Bojanić – Ministry of Capital Investments; Mr Aleksandar Stijović – Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management; Ms Vesna Bratić – Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports; Ms Jelena Borovinić Bojović – Ministry of Health; Mr Milojko Spajić – Ministry of Finances and Social Welfare; Mr Vladimir Leposavić – Ministry of Justice and Minority Rights. This ‘New Testament’ number was spoiled by the 13th Warrior – the Leader of URA and the bloc ‘Black on White’, Mr Dritan Abazović, who’s the only politician to take up the deputy prime minister position in Mr Krivokapić’s Cabinet, as the “award” for backing the “apostle-expert government”.
The late Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, Amfilohije, greatly affected the selection of the prime minister-designate and the majority of ministers.
One of the leaders of the Democratic Front, DF, Mr Andrija Mandić, confessed recently that the leading bishops of the SOC, Amfilohije and Joanikije, had insisted that the DF should accept a professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Mr Zdravko Krivokapić, as the leader of the list ‘For the Future of Montenegro’ even though never involved in politics before.
On election night, Mr Krivokapić announced in his celebratory speech that his goal was to establish an expert government. He then hurried to the Church of Christ’s Resurrection to bow and kiss the hand of his political creator, Metropolitan Amfilohije.
A meeting was held in the Ostrog Monastery on September 22, the day before the constitutive session of the parliament. It was attended by Mr Krivokapić, Mr Abazović, leaders of the Democratic Front, Mr Andrija Mandić and Mr Milan Knežević, as well as representatives of Democratic Montenegro, alongside Metropolitan Amfilohije and Bishop Joanikije of Budimlja-Nikšić.
In an interview with H1 TV, Mr Aleksandar Popov, director of the Center for Regionalism and one of the co-presidents of the Igman Initiative, revealed that Mr Dritan Abazovic had told him how the late Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, Amfilohije Radović, strongly influenced Mr Zdravko Krivokapic’s nomination as the prime minister-designate.
“When Abazović proposed Zdravko Krivokapić as prime minister-designate, as he was the leader of the list ‘For the Future of Montenegro’, Andrija Mandic strongly reacted and said that it was out of the question, but then Amfilohije, who was in good health at the time, just waved his hand and those supporting Mandić just kept silent and reluctantly accepted that option,” Mr Popov quoted Mr Abazović.
“GAMES” OF PM-DESIGNATE
Following the consultations with the leaders of the three blocs that make up the majority, on 8 October, President of Montenegro, Mr Milo Đukanović, proposed Mr Zdravko Krivokapić as the prime minister-designate. And the “Game of Thrones” could begin.
The things between Mr Krivokapic and the leaders of the Democratic Front did not get better. The gap between the first on the list and those whom he had been leading was becoming more visible day by day.
Mr Krivokapić rarely met with the leaders of the DF and other parties who had backed him. He communicated with them mostly by e-mail or via media.
On 30 October, when Metropolitan Amfilohije passed away, the PM-designate finally gathered the leaders of the three coalitions and told that he wished a 13-member cabinet made up of experts, i.e. without politicians and deputy prime ministers.
The Leader of the Civic Movement URA, Mr Dritan Abazović, who was interested in the coordination of security services and the Ministry of Defense, endorsed his decision. The leaders of the DF and Democrats also backed him, but the DF was still accusing the PM-designate of betraying the will of the Serbian people and falling under the influence of URA, Western embassies and media tycoons from Vijesti. Mr Nebojša Medojević was the frontrunner when it came to accusations, followed by Mr Mandić and Mr Knežević.
Even Serbia’s President, Mr Aleksandar Vučić, reacted despite claiming that he “doesn’t want to meddle in the composition of the Montenegrin government”, and harshly criticized the leaders of the DF.
“They told me they agreed to the expert government. They won’t listen to me, as I would never agree on that. I would never agree on the minority support to the govt,” Mr Vučić told on the day of Amfilohije’s funeral.
Mr Krivokapić did not pay attention to those accusations, but on November 5 he announced that the government would have 12 ministers as “12 apostles that our Metropolitan Amfilohije taught us about.” Most of the candidates he then proposed had direct ties, either family or business ones, with the SOC management.
The defense minister position was vacant, as the PM-designate left it for Mr Abazović. A young lawyer, Mr Nikola Terzić, was proposed for the internal affairs minister but he withdrew his candidacy after Pobjeda daily had revealed he took part in the URA election staff.
Recommendations for apostles
Most of the candidates for ministers in the future apostles-expert government are in close family or business relations with someone from the Serbian Orthodox Church.
For the first time in the last twenty years, there will be no representatives of ethnic minority parties in the government. Most minority parties refused to talk to the prime minister-designate about participation in the executive power, as they don’t want to be anybody’s decoration and believe that the constitutional concept of civil, multiethnic, multi-confessional Montenegro is endangered by the behavior of the prime minister-designate and some parties that support him. Only the Albanian list run by Mr Nik Đeljošaj agreed to talk to Mr Krivokapić, but in the end was left with no ministerial seats.
The leaders of the Front do not hide their anger for being marginalized, but are still going to vote for Mr Krivokapić’s government. All the absurdity is perhaps best illustrated by Mr Milan Knežević’s statement that Mr Krivokapić “gave them no way out” and that this is not an expert government but a post-election coalition comprising of the Civic Movement URA and the NGO called ‘We won’t give up Montenegro’.