13:45 GMT +321 October 2019
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    Montenegro's Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic (R) shakes hands with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after a joint press conference in Podgorica

    Really Difficult Choice? As NATO Member Montenegro Will Become ISIL Target

    © AFP 2019 / SAVO PRELEVIC
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    ISIL and other NATO's foes will automatically view Montenegro as their target if it joins the Alliance - should the small Balkan country take such a deadly risk? The leader of the "Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro" shed light on the government's controversial initiative.

    Vasily Raksha — Whereas Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s cabinet slams the idea of remaining outside NATO as a "Utopia", Marko Milacic cites six prosperous non-bloc EU democracies (Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden) as an example that preserving a peaceful status is absolutely real.

    Otherwise, in the event of taking a side in today’s complicated multi-center world, Montenegro could face the grim prospective of being dragged into the ongoing geopolitical standoff between the US and Russia, thus becoming a pawn in this game – and this future is unacceptable for the country.

    NATO Membership Will Make Montenegro a Target for ISIL

    Another harsh reality is the ISIL danger. Milacic underlined that Montenegro is balancing on a fine line desisting from conflicts, and it was vital to maintain this equilibrium and avoid meddling in wars – which is “a smart and wise diplomatic agenda for a small country”.

    He said that ISIL has even issued threats laying claims on the Balkan Peninsula territories and Montenegro in particular. The terrorists beheaded Croatian Tomislav Salopek because his country allegedly sold equipment for the anti-ISIL operation.

    So in a desperate attempt to draw attention to such a horrible scenario of becoming a terrorist target, the “Movement for Neutrality” on September 15 staged a provocative performance imitating an ISIL execution scene in front of the parliament to advise the country against participating in military conflicts.

    “We wanted people to put a finger to their heads.”

    “Where did you get the idea to meddle in the battles on the other side of the planet? Where did you get the idea to impose democracy in our country? For years and centuries, we had no territorial disputes with you," the actor said on behalf of the terrorists.

    "And you want the same kind of democracy? You want to be a part of the same story? Didn't you feel it on your skin in 1999? You felt the NATO bombs' democracy in Montenegro. Is it now your turn to bomb us? Montenegro, you will work to destabilize the countries you know nothing about, and you are going to pay the price.

    This citizen won't be killed by us. He will be killed by the politicians who are advocating the story you don't want to be a part of."

    If “Threat Comes From Neighbors,” Let’s See What Bloc They Represent!

    However, apart from the geopolitical point there is also an ethical one. Montenegro bore the brunt of the remorseless NATO bombardments of Yugoslavia in 1999, and six civilians, including three children, were killed in the village of Murino. Montenegro is still expecting an apology for this.

    However, NATO “expressed regret” but has never apologized – which is the key term that would mean, if ever uttered, that Brussels has taken responsibility and accepted the guilt for its crimes, Milacic underscored.

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was promoting Alliance membership in Podgorica during his visit on October 14 just eleven days after the US “mistakenly” bombed an MSF hospital in Kunduz for one hour killing 30 people.

    On October 7, US President Barack Obama apologized for the accident, and Montenegrins expected that Stoltenberg would also apologize for Murino, as the events were similar, but he never did.

    “NATO, offensive military-political alliance, can kill thirty children, and they don’t even want to apologize”.

    Milacic busted the governmental propaganda exploiting the myth of an external threat to Montenegro as a pretext of joining the bloc for the sake of “a secure future”. According to the leadership, Montenegro faces threats from its neighbors. But what are they in essence?

    “So we have Serbia – a friendly nation. Then there is Croatia, Albania, and Italy across the Adriatic Sea – all NATO members, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina – NATO protectorates. So if they say the threat comes from our neighbors, it means NATO is the only threat!”

    Mind Manipulations & Root of NATO Aspirations

    The crucial fact for Montenegro is that the majority of its residents simply oppose the idea of NATO membership. The government knows it and ardently tries to hush up the figures. In November 2014, the government published a survey by Research Company Ipsos indicating that 35 percent were for NATO membership and 46 against.

    However, in February 2015, the “Movement for Neutrality” obtained the original poll data showing that the real percentage of those against NATO amounted to 57 percent. The NGO busted a governmental fabrication. 

    According to statistics provided by Milacic, 84 percent of Montenegrins would like to resolve the argument via a referendum including over 60 percent of pro-NATO and some 90 percent of anti-NATO residents.

    So the membership may probably be rejected by the population, therefore the government is unwilling to hold a plebiscite and is trying to push its targeted decision through the parliament that would become “one of the biggest manipulations in the history of Montenegro”.

    But another reason is that it will be difficult to steal votes at the referendum, with vote rigging as an ordinary practice under the rule of Milo Djukanovic, the “Movement for Neutrality” leader said.

    But why is the government so zealously pushing for NATO membership and ignoring the facts listed above?

    Milacic said that the “mafiocratic system” that has been “Montenegrin Leviathan looming for us for two decades” is only seeking to secure its own power and equates the security of Montenegro with its own.

    “In 2009, Russia pumped a great deal of money into Montenegro, and the government regarded it as its best friend. But the global economic collapse cut Russian investments and they turned their backs on Russia by 180 degrees.”

    So this time the ruling party placed its bets on the West, selling the country’s sovereignty in exchange for support from abroad. Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic is not perceived as a strong politician in European democracies and is not a welcome guest at bilateral meetings with their leaders.

    The institutions in Montenegro “are privatized, and if you criticize the authorities, you will remain without a job, get threats, endanger yourself and your family, you might also be beaten and even killed!”

    Europe knows about the “façade of democracy” in Montenegro, but doesn’t care and still views “dictator” Djukanovic as a democratic governor. Why? There’s an unambiguous answer, Milacic argued:

    “There is a tiny 200-km Adriatic coast still outside NATO. And they simply want to put the last piece of the puzzle, and say it openly.”

    In an attempt to alter public opinion, the government is conducting a powerful promotional campaign featuring celebrities in pro-NATO TV-spots. But even in this strategy manipulation is breaking out.

    One of the most popular actors, Mima Karadzic, was told he would promote the charms of Montenegro; when he learnt that he actually participated in a NATO advertisement, he demanded the TV-spot be removed.

    Another method of mind manipulation is whipping up the “Russian participation” myth. The “Movement for Neutrality” unearthed that Montenegrin Foreign Minister Igor Luksic said in Berlin that Russia allegedly pulled the strings of the anti-government protests via the Serbian Orthodox Church, media and NGOs. So NATO gets a pretext to galvanize efforts to back the government in Montenegro.

    “This is a total lie! Where’s the evidence? We sued the minister, and the trial will begin at the end of November.”

    Death Threat: a Sign of Weakness

    Marko Milacic deplored the police brutality during a crackdown on the protest and the deployment of special counter-terrorism units against civilians in breach of the constitution.

    “On October 24 these SS-divisions were chasing people like rabbits and were beating anyone they could catch.”

    He personally sent a letter to Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic warning that there will be more protests. In response, he found a letter with a death threat (“Countdown. Finished with you”) lying at the front door of his apartment. He said this didn’t surprise him under the “autocratic regime where repressions are a norm” and has been threatened a few times on Facebook, but this one was tangible. However, Milacic is not afraid.

    “It’s disturbing to receive a death threat especially when you have a wife and a child… But it makes you even more motivated, it’s is the most direct sign that you are going in the right direction, and that they are the ones who are afraid.”

    The NGO cherishes the support of such intellectuals as Noam Chomsky, Immanuel Wallerstein and Michael Parenti.

    The "Movement for Neutrality" seeks positive goals instead of just rejecting inappropriate initiatives.

    According to Milacic, "the most humane and rational" scenario that offers the best potential for "accelerated democratic and economic development" for a small country like Montenegro is to walk the peaceful track and stay away from any military unions — the country should grow on the basis of tourism like Malta and keep its traditionally friendly relations with both the East and West.


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    NATO, Daesh, terrorism threat, manipulation, falsification, referendum, Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro, Ipsos, Tomislav Salopek, Marko Milacic, Milo Djukanovic, Jens Stoltenberg, Balkans, Italy, Russia, Yugoslavia, Malta, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia
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