INTERVIEW Mandić for "Vijesti": Knežević has the right to his way, my best for the Serbs

Knežević is the president of an important parliamentary party and has the right to his views and views on the future in accordance with the beliefs of those he represents

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Western lobbyists spread the narrative that my conciliatory rhetoric is a way to achieve the same goals by other means: Mandić, Photo: Boris Pejović
Western lobbyists spread the narrative that my conciliatory rhetoric is a way to achieve the same goals by other means: Mandić, Photo: Boris Pejović
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The leader of the Democratic People's Party (DNP) Milan Knežević has a legitimate right to pursue the policy he considers correct and, above all, to respond to his voters. I am the president of the Serbian National Party in Montenegro and I am convinced that I know my people well, and I am also convinced that I am leading a policy that is the best for the Serbian people in Montenegro.

This is what the president of the Parliament of Montenegro and the New Serbian Democracy (NSD), Andrija Mandić, told "Vijesta".

In an interview conducted by e-mail last week, he did not directly answer the questions about what he will do if Montenegro votes for the adoption of the resolution on the genocide in Srebrenica today at the session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) and whether he will follow Knežević and the DNP if they leave because of this. power.

Mandić stated that they are talking to Prime Minister Milojko Spajić and are assuring him that supporting the adoption of the resolution is "not a good choice", that they are against such a decision, but that since they have no ministers in the government, they cannot vote against what they "don't like". .

"The Democratic Party of Socialists can't wait for the 44th government to fall and, above all, for the expansion of the government to happen, because they know that this is the last card they are waving, that is, that we are an undesirable factor for the formation of the government," Mandić says.

"Due to his busy schedule," Mandić was unable to answer additional questions from "Vijesti" regarding the proposed resolution on the genocide in Jasenovac, which were sent after it was included in the parliamentary procedure.

What has Montenegro done well since gaining independence in 2006, and what should it have done but failed to do?

After the referendum in 2006, Montenegro found itself in an extremely difficult position, with clearly defined lines of division and the intention of the previous three-decade government of the DPS (Democratic Party of Socialists), headed by Milo Đukanović, to survive those divisions and preserve its concept of private states, not sovereign states.

In this context, very little has been done when it comes to building a state. In fact, the greatest progress when it comes to building a stable society was achieved after the changes of 2020, because only after them did Montenegro get that other entity, which was systematically persecuted until that moment.

18 years later, what are your most memorable impressions from the time immediately before, during and immediately after the referendum?

Well, the key impression regarding the referendum was the fiery atmosphere that characterized both blocs, but despite that, as a society we showed that we are mature enough to preserve peace, as we did in 1999, and I'm glad is that we transferred that legacy even later. The bloc for a common state published a "White Book" that contained thousands of pieces of evidence related to referendum theft.

If, hypothetically, the referendum were to be held again today, would you vote for the independence of Montenegro? Why?

I think that all citizens of Montenegro know my answer, because together with numerous honest, educated and smart people, I was one of the leaders of the Bloc for a common state. I have always been an advocate of consolidation and unification, not fragmentation and separation. That is why I want so much that the entire region unites and that in the process of EU integration, Montenegro becomes a member of this community.

Do you think that Montenegro, in the constitutional sense, should remain a civil state or be a state of constituent nations, which, as can be concluded from your statements, you advocated?

Montenegro will become a civil state at the moment when all its peoples feel free and when the maxim "all rights for all" applies, which is what my party and the former Democratic Front stand for.

Until now, we had a regime that wrapped itself in the term "civil state" while systematically persecuting the Serbian people, their language and their Church.

Now that this is no longer the case, it is time to reach reconciliation and make Montenegro a country for all its citizens.

In which part, specifically, do you think the Constitution of Montenegro should be changed and why?

I have said several times in the Assembly of Montenegro that the Constitution is not the Holy Scripture, but that it should reflect the real situation in Montenegro. Even after the 2011 census, we had a situation where a non-majority language was declared official, while the Serbian language spoken by the majority of citizens of Montenegro was in official use (and in the same rank as the languages ​​of minority nations, with the most sincere respect for them).

If the results of the population census from 2023 state that the Serbian language is spoken by the majority of citizens of Montenegro, this popular will should be respected immediately and it should be possible to state in the Constitution that the Serbian language is also official.

How do you think you can get support for changes to the Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority in parliament and a referendum?

Dialogue is the key that opens all doors. On these extremely important topics, it is necessary to open the widest possible dialogue of all political and social actors.

What rights did the Serbian people in Montenegro acquire in the last four years, which they did not have from 2006 to August 2020, when the three-decade government was replaced?

DPS created an atmosphere of apartheid in Montenegro, systematically restraining and persecuting members of the Serbian people and all people who did not support their rule.

As I said before, the Serbian people did not have the right to have their language declared official (it was already placed in the second category), with the Law on Freedom of Religion that was forcibly passed in 2019 by the then parliamentary majority headed by Prime Minister Duško Marković. threatened to confiscate the property of the only canonical Orthodox church in Montenegro - the Serbian Orthodox Church. The fact that only two percent of Serbs were in the state administration during the rule of the former regime speaks volumes (I will remind you that according to the 2011 census, there were about 29 percent of Serbs in Montenegro, while in 2003 that percentage was about 33 percent).

What is your relationship with Mr. Milan Knežević, your long-term political ally? Are you and he in relation to the Government and the rest of the parliamentary majority "good and bad policemen"?

Milan Knežević is my friend and comrade with whom I have been through a lot in my life. We fought together and we continue to fight against the rigged process, the so-called The "coup d'état" whose main architect is currently detained in Spuška prison.

Knežević is a friend and comrade with whom I have gone through a lot in my life: Mandić
Knežević is a friend and comrade with whom I have gone through a lot in my life: Mandićphoto: Boris Pejović

Of course, Milan Knežević is also the president of an important parliamentary party and as such he has the right to views and views on the future in accordance with the beliefs of those he represents.

Mr. Knežević stated a few months ago that most of your and his program commitments are similar, but that you have different views on certain, as he said, "strategic processes". If you agree with that, what are the processes?

I, however, believe that it is more important to always look for what unites us, both between the New Serbian Democracy and the Democratic People's Party, but also among all parties, whether they are the government or the opposition, and people in general. The constant insistence on differences is a vicious circle from which we must break.

Are you afraid that Mr. Knežević, who gathers around himself the "hard" Serbian political current, take your votes?

Mr. Knežević has a legitimate right to pursue the policy he considers correct and, above all, to respond to his voters. I am the president of the Serbian national party in Montenegro and I am convinced that I know my people well, and I am convinced that I am leading a policy that is best for the Serbian people in Montenegro. Citizens in Montenegro are free to choose those ideas that they consider most appropriate to their worldviews.

What will you and the party do if Montenegro votes for the adoption of the resolution on Srebrenica at the session of the UN General Assembly? They accuse you of claiming that it is a "red line" to return Milo Đukanović, that you are actually defending your seats in government, while Mr. Knežević says that in that case it will be "difficult to stay" in it. If Mr. Knežević and DNP leave power, will you follow them?

We talk to Prime Minister Spajić and convince him that it is not a good choice, we are against such a decision, but, unfortunately, since we have no ministers in the Government, we cannot vote against what we do not like. The Democratic Party of Socialists can't wait for the 44th Government to fall and, above all, for the expansion of the Government to happen, because they know that this is the last card they are waving, that is, that we are an undesirable factor for the formation of the government.

Of course, these days we see that the position of the international community is very clear and that the Parliament of Montenegro, this parliamentary majority and the 44th Government are the absolute leaders in the region and that we have achieved more in these few months than many predecessors.

How does the government work? What is your relationship with the Prime Minister, Mr. Spajić, and did he blame you for dropping out of the presidential race last year with your votes and the votes of the DPS, in the State Election Commission, and for "fueling" the "Do Kwon" affair?

As I said in one of the previous questions, the Government's work has been welcomed both by citizens and by our international partners.

I have regular communication with Prime Minister Spajić and I believe that together we have charted a good path that 80 percent of the citizens want, which is for Montenegro to be the first next member of the EU.

Also, I have a very well-developed communication with the President of Montenegro, Jakov Milatović.

What will you do if the reconstruction of the Government does not take place in June, when you want it?

I see no reason why this should not happen in June, especially if we take into account the results we have achieved as a parliamentary majority in the past months. Expansion can only improve the work of the Government.

How do you respond to the accusations that, as head of the Assembly, by attending several events in Serbia (military exercise, staying in the election headquarters of the Serbian Progressive Party), you misused your state position for political gain, and that you implement in Montenegro what corresponds to the ruling regime in Serbia and the president of that country, Aleksandar Vučić?

I have responded to these allegations several times - apart from the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, I am also the President of the only Serbian national party in Montenegro, which has its own dynamics of political cooperation with parties in the region and the world.

Additionally, the New Serbian Democracy and the Serbian Progressive Party have signed a cooperation agreement and they are sister parties, so I don't see anything controversial in the fact that during the expectation of the results (I repeat, I did not take part in the election day and the process) I was together with my friends from Srpska advanced parties.

What do you think about Vučić, who, according to many experts in the political situation, governs Serbia in the same way that Đukanović governed Montenegro?

I have always had great cooperation with the president and the leadership of Serbia, because that is the only and natural thing for a Serbian politician and the president of the Serbian national party in Montenegro. This is nothing new, because, I will remind your readers, we had great relations with the Government headed by Vojislav Koštunica and with former presidents Boris Tadić and Tomislav Nikolić.

Great cooperation with Vučić, it was the same with Koštunica, Tadić and Nikolic: Mandić
Great cooperation with Vučić, it was the same with Koštunica, Tadić and Nikolic: Mandićphoto: Boris Pejović

What do you think about the idea of ​​a "Serbian world", which many compare to the project of a "greater Serbia"?

The idea of ​​culturally connecting the Serbian people, no matter where they live, should not worry anyone. It is clear that it is more profitable for the media to sell headlines that alarm the public. It is particularly interesting that the campaign of fear is pushed the most by those who pay the least attention to international law.

Will you attend the great Serbian parliament in Belgrade, which was announced by Vučić and the president of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik for June 8?

I still haven't received an official invitation.

It is not true that my rhetoric is a way to achieve goals by other means

What do you say at meetings to international interlocutors whose representatives accuse you of being anti-Western and anti-NATO oriented and that your conciliatory rhetoric is just a way to "achieve the same goals by other means"?

One piece of information that may be of particular interest to your readers - none of the international interlocutors at any point mentioned these heinous falsehoods. On the contrary. I will only remind you that the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Mr. Oliver Varhelji, President of the European Council Charles Michel, as well as numerous other high international officials had nothing but words of praise for our results.

The narrative you're talking about, which comes out of the mouths of certain lobbyists in Western countries and is repeated relentlessly in the media, does not correspond to the truth. It is enough to read the program of the New Serbian Democracy, to understand that we have been a truly European-oriented party since its foundation.

These were also its forerunners, because we advocated the European Union even while some spoke of "the last island of communism in the Balkans".

Božović's arrest was political

How can you and your party trust Chief Special Prosecutor Vladimir Novović in all the cases he prosecutes, except in the case of your party colleague Milo Božović?

The arrest of Milo Božović came in the midst of the pre-election campaign and it is therefore, as far as we are concerned, interpreted as political, because he covered the important position of the President of the Municipality of Budva in front of our coalition.

I can do without information from NATO because we are talking at Council sessions

On what basis do you decide at the sessions of the Defense and Security Council if you still do not want to receive information from NATO partners?

The sessions themselves are discussed, so it is not difficult to get to know the details.

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