Montenegro’s new government approved, while international press brings disturbing stories about new/old prime minister.
June 12, 2009
Montenegro’s parliament approved yesterday a new government that is led by long-time Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. In the parliament, 48 of 81 lawmakers approved the 21-member Cabinet. Djukanovic said that new government’s goal will be to speed up the this Balkan nation toward the NATO and European Union.
Djukanovic has been a political leader in Montenegro for nearly 20 years, and passed a long raod since then. He started as one of the leaders of the Communist Party, then a coalition partner of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, and later switched from pro-Yugoslav option into leading independence movement of Montenegro. (see a video with english subtitles about his role in Balkan wars)
Last week, a series of articles has been released by Public Integrity Center, a center for investigative journalism. Several independent journalists from the region have joined together and made a really interesting dossier about Djukanovic’s activities in the previous two decades.
The articles revealed stories about „possibly one of Europe’s largest smuggling operations in recent years – a multi-billion dollar operation involving the Italian Mafia and the tiny country of Montenegro.“
Even the phone calls of Mr. Djukanovic had been taped at the time, and part of conversations transcripted in the article named „The Montenegro Connection“. The story offers many details of the smuggling operations and people who took part in it. At the center of this case is a hidden bit of history, say Italian prosecutors, of how tobacco smuggling became a state enterprise in Montenegro, a Balkan republic in southeastern Europe bordering Serbia and the Adriatic Sea. Home to just 600,000 people, the country is smaller than Israel and is known for its scenic coastline. But it is also known for its smuggling routes through the heart of the Balkans, which, during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, allowed organized crime to thrive. Italian authorities noted as much in the DIA report. “Montenegro, for a decade, was the real Tortuga of the Adriatic sea,” they wrote, comparing the Balkan state to a Caribbean island notorious for its pirates. “A heaven for illicit trafficking; impunity granted to mobsters … a place where authorities guaranteed the passage of illicitly traded goods.” And investigators left no doubt who they thought was behind the billion-dollar racket: “Milo Djukanovic ruled this Tortuga.”
Article also emphises that Djukanovic is now prime minister of that “Tortuga.” Re-elected in March 2009, he leads a country where for nearly 17 of the past 18 years he has served as either prime minister or president. And he is pushing hard for Montenegro to join the European Union, which is now considering the country’s membership.
Some opposition leaders in Montenegro are worried about the fact that Brussels unconditionally supports Djukanovic. Even worse, EU many times encouraged his politics, while Javier Solana once stated that Milo Djukanovic is “young and perspective politician”.
The opposition politician Slavko Perovic (leader of former Liberal Alliance of Montenegro which has „frozen“ their political activities in march 2005, explaining that Montenegro lacks basic democratic principles which would ensure normal and independent functioning of an oposition party) believes that “Milo Djukanovic is just another manipulating politician and a dedicated follower of Slobodan Milosevic. Just like Milosevic, he was and is interested only in power; he is a man of the past and an outdated politician”.“ (see more – ifimes)
In the second article of Center for Public Integrity – „Djukanovic’s Montenegro a Family Business”, the focus is on a prime minister’s family and a number of close friends who gained great amount of wealth in the recent years.
All regional medias reported on those stories, while even some EU and US medias published articles such as ABC news „Scandal Overseas: Sex, Lies and Cigarette Smuggling“.
Mr Djukanovic denied all of the allegations and stated that those stories come from unfulfilled people who are jelaous of his personal success. It is important to stress that such speculations are not quite new. Allegations against Djukanovic have started several years ago, when a court process has been started in Italy, and then stopped, due to Djukanovic’s diplomatic immunity.
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