Geopolitics of Montenegrin Serbs
In Montenegro, since 1945 and the beginning of the rule of the Yugoslav Communists, the process of assimilation of Serbs into Montenegrins is implemented. But, in this process, it is important to highlight the geopolitical turning point in 1997, when the current regime began to implement openly anti-Serb policy. Because under communism, although almost everyone had to declare themselves nationally as Montenegrins, they were nonetheless Montenegrins who were in the Serbian/Slavic cultural and historical circle. However, since 1997, the current government in Montenegro has started the project of independent Montenegro, with the ultimate goal that ethnic Montenegrins no longer belong to the Serbian/Slavic cultural and historical circle. No less important is the task of keeping the number of Serbs in Montenegro at the level of statistical error. The entire policy of the ruling party in Montenegro comes down to the fact that Serbia, and now Russia, are external enemies, while Serbs in Montenegro are internal enemies.
However, it turned out that Serbs were a harder nut than expected, so the assimilation process did not go as quickly as expected. Although the independence referendum was held in 2006, the current government has failed to impose a Montenegrin identity on Serbs. And if all post-war censuses from 1948 to 2011 were fictitious and did not reflect the real situation, and on such census in 2011 there were “too many” Serbs. According to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 42.9 percent of Montenegrin people speak Serbian, and another two percent speak Serbo-Croatian, while Montenegrin speak 37 percent. Also interesting is the survey of CEDEM agency, which is close to the ruling party, according to which 46.6 percent of respondents believe that in Montenegro should only exist Serbian Orthodox Church, while only 4.9 percent believe that there should be only the Montenegrin Orthodox church
The final assimilation phase
The main objective of the current government is not only to build new generations through a purely Montenegrin identity, but through an anti-Serb identity. This process cannot be performed overnight, it takes time. In accordance with that, there was a Serbian writer expulsion from school textbooks, the introduction of two new characters, which even president of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic does not use.
Revision of history, recognition of Kosovo, the presence of a Montenegrin officer at the celebration of the Croatian military operation “Storm” (which carried out the largest ethnic cleansing since World War II), Montenegro’s entry into NATO and open attack on the Serbian Orthodox Church, clearly indicate that the authorities are entering to the final phase of Serb assimilation. The system of work of the Democratic Party of Socialists and its political partners is simple. Authorities carry out assimilation, and encourages Serbs to emigrate. Serbs who cannot withstand social pressure are forced to leave Montenegro. However, those who are unable to leave Montenegro are forced to assimilate and become national Montenegrins. The Montenegrin national project is implemented primarily through economic pressure, that is the main lever for the assimilation of Serbs. And besides, there is strong pressure in the media, education system, cultural institutions… And as time goes regime is becoming more violent.
Warning of US hawk
Why Milo Djukanovic and Democratic Party of Socialists have Western support, explains openly one of the main American hawks for the Balkan – Daniel Serwer. In his statements, Serwer clearly states that there is no good opposition in Montenegro, because the opposition in Montenegro is not pro-NATO and pro-European, and it is not for an independent Montenegro.
“There is now no room for President Milo Djukanovic to step down because opposition forces in Montenegro are not only questioning NATO membership and joining the EU, but also Montenegrin independence. Government changeability is necessary and I would like to see it, better sooner rather than later. I also told that directly to the president, “explains Server.
Serwer also added that any change in government must offer an alternative.
“That is my point: without serious opposition, which is not tied to Moscow, it will be impossible for Djukanovic or his party to leave power. But that day should come. No one should stay in power forever. It’s been a long time, though recognition must be given to the President for leaving office several times, “he stated.
Serwer “explained” that creating a serious opposition that is not influenced by the Kremlin is a long process.
“I do not think that the process of creating a pro-European opposition should wait for membership in the European Union. Already then, Montenegro should be a serious democracy. Of course, this process of creating opposition forces that will not rely on Moscow will take years. The time to begin this process is now. It is important to emphasize that those who oppose (Montenegrin) independence and NATO membership cannot form that serious pro-European opposition,” stated Server.
The Machine can work without Djukanovic
However, the process of creating a pro-NATO and pro-European opposition has already begun, and gives excellent results. Political party Democratic Montenegro is today the strongest opposition party in Montenegro. And things will only get worse for Serbs and pro-Russian parties unless their policies, which have been catastrophic so far, change. At present, the main focus of the ruling party – apart from winning the next parliamentary elections – is the census, which will be held in 2021. The Government’s goal is to make ethnic Montenegrins a majority nation, with less than 20 percent of Serbs. That is why the activity of the Montenegrin institutions, which is visibly intensified, will in future only be more brutal.
The striking brigade for the implementation of this plan is administration under Government control, that does strong economic pressure on Serbs. In addition to strong economic pressure, there is also media pressure in which an open revision of history is performed. However, some analysts think that it is enough that Milo Djukanovic leave the power, and that the Serbs after that will once again be the majority in Montenegro. But, they are wrong! Because, we could see that even when Djukanovic was withdrawing, the anti-Serb machine was working excellent. The reason for this is that the seat of the anti-Serb machine is not in Montenegro, but outside. Behind the anti-Serb machine in Montenegro are liberals from the West. It is reasonable to suspect that the forthcoming census will be adjusted by the Government of Montenegro according to their interests, intentions and goals. Recent data on the number of Serbs working in Montenegrin institutions – presented by journalist Gojko Raicevic – was just another confirmation of discrimination against Serbs in that country. According to a document published by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights in 2015, it is clear that Serbs have been expelled from the Montenegrin system. Without a doubt, now the situation is even worse.
In light of the above, an urgent change in Serbian politics in Montenegro is needed. If Serbs want to survive in Montenegro, it is necessary to pursue a Serb policy, not a civic one. It is simply unbelievable that Serbs who make up a third of Montenegro’s population do not have a serious national party. How is it possible that New Serbian Democracy, a party that was founded to fight for Serbian interests in Montenegro, becomes part of civic party Democratic Front?! And now it can be seen that New Serbian Democracy is more concerned with the summer tourist season in Montenegro than about the position and rights of Serbs in Montenegro. The conclusion is clear, If there is no will and desire in New Serbian Democracy to return to the policy of protecting Serbian national interests, then it is necessary to form a new Serbian party, with strong infrastructure. A party that would predominantly work on the protection of Serbian national interests in Montenegro. And that means the establishment of new pillars of Serbian politics in Montenegro.
Five pillars of new Serbian Policy in Montenegro
1. The presence in every government of Montenegro. The New Serbian Democracy, which is now pursuing civic policies within the Democratic Front, is not interested to become a part of Montenegrin government as long as the Democratic Party of Socialists is in Government. Therefore, Serbs are the only ethnic group in Montenegro that is not represented in the Government of Montenegro. This needs to be changed, as Serbs must be part of the Government of Montenegro. Serbs need to take care of their interest only, which is why equal representation of Serbs in the institutions of Montenegro is needed. In principle, that means three to four ministries in the Government of Montenegro, as well as the position of Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro, would belong to the Serbs. And in the future, support for that Serbian party would only increase. Because in that case, the Serbs would no longer be forced to vote for the Democratic Party of Socialists, but since the institutions of the system would be opened to them, they could decide for themselves who they would vote for. So that Serbian party would in future probably be the strongest political party in Montenegro.
2. Equal media representation. This is primarily related to the fact that the first or second Program of Radio Television of Montenegro broadcasts contents in Cyrillic and to have shows about Serbian history, art, culture…
3. Lifting of sanctions against Russia, and the establishment of strong cooperation with the institutions of Russia. There is no doubt that in Montenegrin government pro-Montenegrin option will oppose to cooperation with Russia, but Serb representatives in the Montenegrin government could, within their competencies, establish strong cooperation with the institutions of the Russian state.
4. Work on the formation of pro-Serbian and pro-Russian television that would have national frequency. Considering that Montenegro is a small country with a population of about 600,000, it would not require much money to set up such a television.
5. Formation of historical and economic region, which would also have partial autonomy. The municipalities of Niksic, Pljevlja, Zabljak, Pluzine, Savnik and Herceg Novi can thus constitute the economic region of Old Herzegovina. Such a region, which is also a historical region (Old Herzegovina belonged to Montenegro after the Berlin Congress) is important because it would make political balance. Old Herzegovina is predominantly populated by Orthodox Christians and is not pro-Montenegrin and pro-NATO oriented., but pro-Serbian and pro-Russian. In that region, the pro-Serb and pro-Russian parties would have power. More autonomy is also needed in places where Serbs are the majority population. Recently, the city municipality of Tuzi (predominantly Albanian-populated) became an independent municipality, having separated from Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro). At the same time, the pro-Serb settlement Zlatica (which is almost twice the size of Tuzi) does not even have the status of a city municipality. Perhaps the example of Zlatica and Tuzi is the best indicator of the disastrous policy of Serb political representatives in Montenegro. Because unlike Albanian political representatives who are predominantly concerned with Albanian national interests, Serb political representatives do almost nothing that is in Serbian national interest.
Only with such a policy can Serbs in Montenegro survive, and expect to be the main political factor in Montenegro again. What is important to point out is that as much as Serbian influence in Montenegro strengthens, so much will strengthen Russian influence in Montenegro. That is why Russia should more strongly and directly support the improvement of the position of Serbs in Montenegro.
From our partner International Affairs
Genocide, Serbia and the Ukraine War: Geopolitics Matters
The Serbia genocide, commonly known as the Bosnian genocide or Srebrenica massacre, is considered one of the heinous vestiges of ethnic cleansing and genocidal acts led by the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and Scorpions paramilitary group. Srebrenica, a small town in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, has become notorious as the site of one of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II, which took place in July 1995 during the Bosnian war between 1992 and 1995. By the way, in the Bosnian case of genocide, it is discerned that geopolitics played a crucial role in which NATO and the West were wholly against the Bosnian Serbs since they broke international law and repudiated the decisions of NATO for maintaining a no-fly zone in Bosnia, while Russia has been in a shrewd stance due to their identical similarities and geopolitical interests of thwarting the influence of the West.
Over the years, Serbia has been maintaining a strong alliance with Russia. However, Aleksandar Vucic, the president of Serbia is strategically hedging between both the West–NATO and EU– and Russia, retaining a close rapport with Moscow, at the same time, gradually improving its ties with the West. On one side, Vučić claims to have a genuine interest in joining the EU and encouraging regional integration via schemes like ‘Open Balkan’, on the other hand, the country continues to reject calls from the West for imposing sanctions against Russia and cutting ties with the country. Despite its pro-Russian leanings, this Balkan nation claims neutrality in the Ukraine war and promises to join the EU.
With regard to the notable developments in the Balkan region, the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Brussels comes up with a very critical inquiry. The country, which has been carrying the blemish of one of the most notorious genocidal and violent acts in human history, is nowadays considered to be an ally of the West. Why are NATO and the EU becoming closer to the Balkan country while it maintains intimacy with Russia and is accused of conducting the infamous Bosnian genocide? The Western nations which had played a robust role in ensuring the penalty of Serbian leaders like Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Slobodan Milosevic, forgetting and wiping out history, why is the West now keen on developing ties with Serbia? The clear-cut and outspoken answer is–the Ukraine war and the geopolitical interests of the West in the Balkan region.
A Synopsis of the Bosnian Genocide
After 40 years of coexistence under Yugoslavia’s communist rule, things started to shift as the nation began to implode in the early 1990s, coinciding with the fall of communism. After Serbia’s provinces of Croatia and Slovenia gained independence, a conflict broke out between the two countries and Serbia. Previously peaceful neighbours turned on one other and took up guns as racial tensions came to light. Slobodan Miloevic’s Serbia attacked a secessionist Bosnia under the pretence of “freeing” Serbian Orthodox Christians residing in Bosnia. Serbia began its ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Bosnian land in April 1992, with the deliberate expulsion of all Bosnian Muslims, often known as Bosniaks. Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was encircled by Serbian and ethnic Bosnian Serb forces armed with weapons from the former Yugoslavia. Thousands of Bosniaks were forced into torture cells, and concentration camps, in which they were subjected to torture, starvation, and murder at the hands of the camp guards and other inmates.
Sarajevo, Goradze, and Srebrenica, along with other Muslim enclaves, were designated as safe zones in 1993 by the United Nations Security Council and assigned to be guarded by UN forces. However, in one of these regions—Srebrenica—Serbs perpetrated the worst murder in Europe since WWII in July 1995. About 8,000 Muslims were jailed and executed, while 23,000 women, children, and the elderly were horridly tortured and oppressed. In 1994, NATO launched air strikes on Bosnian Serbs in an effort to put an end to the violence. However, more than 160 people have been prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague since the conclusion of the war. There have been convictions of Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks, with the preponderance of accusations being levelled against Serbians and Bosnian Serbs. The Serbian top leaders like Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Slobodan Milosevic were charged with conducting ‘genocide, mass killing and crimes against humanity.’
Bosnian Genocide and Serbia’s Rift with the West
The genocide marked the height of the brutal Bosnian War, significantly squeezing the relationship between Serbia and the Western world, particularly with NATO and the EU. During the Bosnian War, which stemmed from the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, NATO assumed a pivotal role in attempting to mitigate the crisis. Initially, NATO imposed a ‘no-fly zone’ in Bosnia to prevent the Serbian air force from conducting airstrikes on civilian targets. However, as the situation escalated, NATO’s involvement expanded to include air campaigns against Bosnian Serb military installations and infrastructure. Operation Deliberate Force, a concentrated NATO bombing campaign, was instrumental in pressuring the Bosnian Serbs into accepting a peace agreement. Therefore, the Bosnian Genocide caused a sea change in how the West saw Serbia and hence, resulted in the deterioration in ties between Serbia and the West.
The extent and cruelty of the genocide startled the world, prompting worldwide criticism of Serbia’s conduct. Reports of torture, rape, and forced relocation, together with the systematic death of thousands of innocent people, sparked widespread anger and cries for justice. Recognizing the genocide as a breach of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide severely damaged Serbia’s reputation abroad. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) came into being as a direct result of the genocide and several high-ranking Serbian politicians and military officers faced charges of war crimes and genocide. As a result, Serbia’s ties to the West and NATO were severely strained after the 1995 Bosnian Genocide.
The Bosnian Genocide and Serbia’s Rapport with Russia: A Geopolitical Viewpoint
During the time of Soviet involvement in the Balkans, connections between Serbia and Russia were strengthened further, but it is important to remember that both countries are significant Slavic states with a long history of cooperation. However, Slobodan Milosevic, the former nationalist leader of the Republic of Serbia, aimed to centralize authority among ethnic Serbs throughout the newly independent republics. Serbian forces pursued acts of ethnic cleansing against non-Serbian populations, resulting in the tragic loss of thousands of lives. In this respect, Russia has pursued subtle policy toward Serbia due to the two countries’ common Slavic culture, religious faith and more importantly, geopolitical interests of the country in the Balkan region.
Regarding this development, geopolitical factors have significantly played a critical role in moulding this relationship as Russia wanted to maintain its global clout in the Balkans and counteract the growing EU and NATO involvement there. Russia had been in the position of favouring political and diplomatic assistance to Serbia throughout the genocide and used its veto power multiple times to prevent stronger international penalties on Serbia at the United Nations Security Council. It is also worth noting that Russia’s backing for Serbia was not constant; there were times when they encouraged Miloevi to call off military operations and negotiate peace. However, Officials in Russia, on the other hand, have said that their backing was motivated by a desire to head off a Western intervention that they think would have only made things worse. Some academics argue that Russia’s backing unintentionally aided in the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding to the complexity of this relationship.
The Ukraine War and the Shift in the Serbia-West Relationship: Geopolitics Matters
Serbia has not been a grim enemy of the West, nor an eternal friend of Russia, rather different regimes in the country tried to balance both powers. Things remarkably started shifting after Serbia applied for EU membership in 2009 while continuing its moral support for Russia in every aspect of world politics. In this regard, the recent developments given rise by the Ukraine war are gradually heading Serbia to be a closer ally of the EU, although the country did not impose any embargo on Russia and is still maintaining a sound rapport with Putin. Since Vucic’s ascension to power a decade ago, Serbia has pretended to be on neither Russia’s nor the EU’s side. He has effectively used the rivalry between the two groups to bolster Serbia’s position in negotiations over energy, security, and EU membership, and to keep five EU nations to prolong their recognition of Kosovo. Serbia, the largest receiver of EU assistance in the Balkans and a leading candidate to join the EU by 2025, has benefited greatly from this strategy.
But the intriguing matter is the West is now craving for becoming a stronger and time-tested ally of the Balkan country. Is not it very thought-provoking to experience the moral shift of the West? The EU and NATO, which have always been vocal against Serbia regarding the Bosnian genocide, are now gradually pursuing closer ties due to the rise of geopolitical dynamics posed by the Ukraine war. Although the Balkan country has long been awaiting EU membership for its geopolitical interests, the West also nowadays seems to be more inquisitive in seizing the geopolitical interests in the region. As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union is now more aware of the importance of the Western Balkans and the potential that Moscow could leverage against the West. The EU, however, has exhibited fewer concerns and pursued a policy of distancing itself from the Balkans for years. In this respect, the Ukraine war is working out as a catalyst factor to make the parties feel the need of strengthening the ties with a view to securing geopolitical interests in the Balkan region keeping aside all the previous stains imposed on the country. In a nutshell, geopolitical matters have become the core drivers to bring about the shift, in which the moral stance of the West regarding the genocide, is likely to be lost to the geopolitical gains of them in the region.
Norway Takes Over Chairmanship of the Arctic Council
Norway takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May 2023 during the international organization’s 13th session held in Salekhard, a far-northern town in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in Russia. Norway will hold the position for the next two years (2023-2025). Russia took this position of the Arctic Council since May 2021 at a ministerial session in Reykjavik.
The Arctic Council consists of Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States. The Arctic is a strategic region. The permanent participants represent a unique feature of the Arctic Council, and they make valuable contributions to its activities in all areas. This territory is of global importance and for intensifying international cooperation.
Observer status is open to non-Arctic states approved by the Council at the Ministerial meetings that occur once every two years. Observers have no voting rights in the council. As of September 2021, thirteen non-Arctic states have observer status. Observer states receive invitations for most Council meetings. Their participation in projects and task forces within the working groups is not always possible, but this poses few problems as few observer states want to participate at such a detailed level.
According to the report, Russia has met all its obligations within the framework of the Arctic Council in full. The primary attention was focused on four key priorities: The People of the Arctic, Including Indigenous Peoples, Environmental Protection, Including Climate Change Issues, Socioeconomic Development and Strengthening Arctic Cooperation.
Over the two-year period, Russia held roughly 90 different events, including forums, conferences, roundtables, championships, festivals, and sports competitions. The chairmanship events were held in 24 cities and towns of Russia, including all nine regions of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation.
“I am certain that all the events that took place and all the decisions that were made at them will support the development of the Russian Far North,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Plenipotentiary Representative of the Russian President in the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev said.
A cross-cutting priority of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council was to ensure responsible governance for the sustainable development of the Arctic. Based on its respect for international law, Russia contributed to the promotion of collective approaches for the development of the Arctic with a social, economic and environmental balance. The events Russia organized were held as part of 11 thematic pillars that encompass all promising areas of the development of the northern latitudes.
In particular, last year the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum featured a stand booth to the Arctic and Russia’s chairmanship for the first time, while the House of Indigenous Peoples at the Eastern Economic Forum was highly popular both among representatives of these ethnic groups and other guests of Vladivostok.
“During Russia’s chairmanship, issues concerning the sustainable development of the Arctic became an integral part of discussions at the key business platforms of our country. Now our main job is to preserve and enhance the valuable legacy of this chairmanship. We will continue to implement ambitious projects in the Arctic in accordance with our main priorities and will promote the results of this work on a regular basis as part of major international congress and exhibition events,” said Anton Kobyakov, Adviser to the Russian President and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee for Russia’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023.
The thematic pillar ‘Development of Human Capital in the Arctic’ included events at which the participants discussed the organization of medical support for the inhabitants of the Far North, ESG trends, ways to establish a partnership between the state and business for the benefit of citizens, as well as training and scientific support.
A separate thematic pillar ‘Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic’ highlighted ways to ensure sustainable development and preserve the heritage of ethnic groups who traditionally reside in the northern territories. Russia’s chairmanship showcased such events as the Arctic Indigenous People’s Summit (21 November 2022, Moscow), the Russian North Indigenous Youth Forum (22–25 November 2022, Salekhard), the International Seminar on the Preservation and Promotion of the Languages of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic (16–18 March 2022, St. Petersburg), and the International Traditional Reindeer Herding Championship (14–19 March 2023, Neryungri).
“In the Russian Arctic, world-class projects are being created to make a breakthrough in the technological, environmental, and energy markets. They will not only fill the Russian treasury for decades to come, but will also claim significant shares of world markets in the most promising sectors of the economy. Cargo from the Arctic mega-projects will fill the Northern Sea Route, via which cargo traffic should grow six times by 2030. All the measures to develop the Arctic economy aim to improve the quality of life of all residents of this strategically important region for our country,” Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov said.
The events of the pillar ‘Climate Change and Ecology of the Arctic’ were devoted to issues on the environmental agenda. The experts and specialists who took part in these events discussed the problems of handling waste and microplastics in the northern latitudes, lifting flooded radioactive and hazardous objects from the seas of the Arctic Ocean, melting permafrost, and the bioremediation of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the Arctic coast. Participants in the large-scale Safe Arctic exercises in 2021 and 2023, for their part, worked on ways to prevent emergency situations in the Arctic.
During its chairmanship, Russia paid special attention to issues concerning the socioeconomic development of the territories of the Far North. During the conference ‘Investment and Trade in the Arctic’ which was held in September on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum, experts considered prospects for cooperation between Russia and its foreign partners in the Arctic and opportunities for developing the Northern Sea Route, while building new logistics chains. In addition, the events held as part of this pillar included a discussion on the modernization of the telecommunications sector and digitalization in the Arctic, as well as the creation of a tourism industry in the North.
Cultural events were also a key part of the chairmanship programme. The following festivals were held over the last two years: Teriberka (16–17 July 2022, Murmansk Region), Bering Strait (2–7 August 2022, Anadyr), The Power of Colour (6–7 May 2023, Kirovsk), as well as the Gastronomic Festival of Northern Cuisine (10–11 December 2021, Moscow).
“In March 2022, the Arctic states of the West initiated a politicized and counterproductive temporary freeze on the Council’s full-scale activities. Amidst these conditions, Russia continued to responsibly perform its functions as chairman and consistently implement the activities of the programme of Russia’s chairmanship (except for official meetings) and repurposed the chairmanship mechanism during the period of this forced freezing to search for effective solutions to practical problems related to the development of our country’s northern regions, which are enshrined in the Fundamentals of the Russian Federation’s State Policy in the Arctic for the Period until 2035 and the Development Strategy for the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation and Ensuring National Security for the Period until 2035,” said Nikolay Korchunov, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials and Ambassador-at-Large for Arctic Cooperation of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Starting from May 2021, during Russia’s chairmanship, discussions were initiated for the first time via the Arctic Council about the protection of the intellectual property rights of Indigenous Peoples amidst globalization, the social responsibility of entrepreneurs, as well as public-private partnerships for the sustainable development of northern ethnic groups. Russia proposed numerous projects and initiatives, in particular, related to the digitalization of the cultural and linguistic heritage of Indigenous Peoples, the development of creative industries and traditional Arctic medicine, the creation of an international Arctic scientific station that runs on carbon-free energy, ensuring biosecurity in the region, and the creation of a unified digital museum platform.
Improving the efficiency of research activities and developing scientific cooperation was also one of Russia’s main goals as chairman of the Arctic Council. In particular, based on an initiative from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement on the formation of the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Legal Research in the Arctic in 2022. The creation of this structure is a step towards forming an all-Russian consortium of Arctic Universities that is open to international partnerships. In addition, during the Northern Sustainable Development Forum, an agreement was signed on the establishment of the Russian-Asian Consortium for Arctic Research, as more than ten organizations became members of this organization.
The plan for Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council was calculated until August 2023 from the very beginning, so Russia will hold a number of events that aim to promote socioeconomic development, preserve the ecology of the northern latitudes, and conduct scientific studies of the Arctic. Some 20 events will take place in the coming months, including: the International Conference on Biodiversity in the Arctic and the International Forum on Specially Protected Natural Areas in the Arctic during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2023, the ‘Arctic Breaking the Ice’ second Russian Forum and Festival of Volunteers, the Teriberka Arctic Festival, the Bering Strait Festival, and the International Maritime Arctic Educational and Scientific Expeditions ‘Training-through-Research’ on Research Vessels. The chairmanship events are managed by the Roscongress Foundation.
The Arctic States issued a statement recognizing the historic and unique role of the Arctic Council for constructive cooperation, stability and dialogue between people in the Arctic region. The statement acknowledges the commitment to work to safeguard and strengthen the Arctic Council. It further recognizes the rights of Arctic Indigenous Peoples, their special relations to the Arctic and the importance of cross-border and people-to-people cooperation in the region.
The statement refers to the Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials’ Report to Ministers adopted in Reykjavik in May 2021, the Reykjavik Ministerial Declaration and the Arctic Council Strategic Plan (2021 – 2030) and recognizes that these documents will form the basis for continuing Council activities in 2023-2025. The statement was issued in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Arctic Council and in recognition of the objectives and commitments expressed in the Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council and subsequent Ministerial Declarations.
Music and Politics: Connecting the Incompatible
“Music can change circumstances” (Josipović, 2023).
Thinking in the realm of politics, dialogue and choice tyranny, introspection of different angles and interpretations is more than welcome. Rarely one can witness highlighting ideas, rushing into the mind as a wind of change or new opportunities, transferring the old into something sublime. It is true; what we focus on, that flourishes. Where is the concentration of mental, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional power, there is our now, our reality. Our guest in May showed us perception not commonly used in politic. Yes, music can be the answer to so many inner and outer quests facing.
Last gathering, music as a wow moment
Adding to his years-long series, in early May 2022, prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic conducted and moderated two distinguished days of fresh insights, noble ideas, and stamina by believing in the power of dialogue. Excellency Ivo Josipovic, President of Croatia was opening the 9th Geneva round 2022/23 as a part of the Executive program that invites academicians and practitioners from the field of politics, education, and diplomacy, vocalized in special theme, involving music.
Our prestigious guest, H.E. Ivo Josipović (1957), a Croatian academic, jurist, and politician who served as President of Croatia from 2010 to 2015, a fruitful and marvellous lecturer, storyteller, and presenter of another approach to politics.
Josipović entered politics young, actively participating in the democratic transformation of the League of Communists of Croatia (SKH) into the Social Democratic Party (SDP), as the author of its first statute. He left politics in 1994, but returned in 2003, winning a seat in the Croatian Parliament, running as an independent candidate on the SDP party list. He won re-election to parliament as a member of the SDP in 2007. In addition to politics, Josipović has also worked as a university professor, legal expert, musician, and composer, and holds a Ph.D. in Law and advanced degrees in music composition. Following the end of his first term in Parliament in January 2008, he ran in the 2009–10 presidential election as the candidate of the Social Democrats, which he had re-joined in January 2008. In the first round he topped eleven rivals with 32.4% of the vote and entered the run-off with independent conservative populist candidate and Mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandić, who had secured 14.8%. He won the election with 60.26% of the vote in the second round of the election.
His campaign was titled “Nova pravednost” (New Justice), calling for a new legal framework to address deep social injustice, corruption, and organised crime.
Two realms, one code
In this manner our guest portrayed a series of musical and interpretive arguments, supporting his main message. Both realms are subjective, artistic and intangible. Whoever is entering the doors of such majestic vocal wave, needs to correspond to momentum coherence. Nothing is solid though; only the tones and words are stringing one beside another, and artist need to predict the right tone in current situation. To the wholeness of harmonies, given by each speaker e.g. musician, one needs to bow, and there the real Art begins. We can equate the dyad music-politics as music is politics and politics is music:
“Politics and music: both lead and seduce and both can be useful and dangerous at the same time” (Josipović, 2023).
“The very nature of politics is, like music, rooted in conflict and harmony. The heart of music is the interplay of the physical and the mental, as the compromise between them forms a cohesive whole. Compromise is also the heart of the political process, trying to find common ground and consensus solutions to problems of society through open communication” (Thomson, 2016).
How language of subconsciousness binds
H.E. Josipović stated some facts about the two realms under our scrutiny. In both cases we can agree that listening is a precondition of success; in politics we ought to listen not with the sole aim to reply but mostly, to understand. Understanding requires analysis and inner readiness to accept the strange, the foreign and the outer. As in music, we must listen to accept tones and melodies and create sounds, describing deeper or intended emotions – our guest stressed to him both realms do offer creativity and visions, where especially in communication with the audience he cocreates balance between enthusiasm and reality.
He as well portrayed cases, how discipline and freedom tackle both politics and music, and how a strong, trustworthy person with integrity soothes the clashes and possible sidewalks. For him, both realms are adventures of the spirit. And the inner voice, connecting us to the subconsciousness and ethical, is louder in silence than in perfect harmony. That is the reason why compromise needs to be sought in silence after the fireworks of harmonies and disharmonies, tones, voices, words, and accords. Where one phase is concluded, another one yields its shelter: (inner) silence should be the center of political reflections. In this manner we can finally comprehend how discontinuities knit the thread of continuity. And the necessity of pauses and out of the box thinking, for which mental and cognitive indolence is ruinous, can only burst in the open and supportive setting.
Our guest has given us cases, historic reflections and shown how bright ideas and music can be misused (Wagner in Hitler’s Third Reich) or given as a spiritual glaze (John Lennon and Imagine).
In general, the connection between music and politics, particularly political expression in songs has been envisaged in many cultures. Through centuries music touches the symbolic expression, which lays deeper in our subconscious mind, having the tendency to bind stronger and hold as a glue of inclusions, especially in the times of sorrow, trials, and other tests of life.
Music can unite in the fight against fear (war songs, battle songs, motivative songs). As well it mobilises to fight in the interest of the group (battle trans, preparing soldiers to sacrifice their own life); music can also hold as a means of cultivating new fear through noble visons and identification of other and outlaw. Certainly, it can be corresponded as a catharsis for societies of recent trauma.
Music can as well express anti-establishment or protest themes, including anti-war songs. Although music influences political movements and rituals, it is not totally clear how or to what extent general audiences relate to music on a political level. Since we cannot measure all the correlated variables in complex situations in which each conflict is embedded, the symbolic, as music is, remains one of the most mesmerising moments one can experience.
Songs can be used to portray a specific political message. Our guest has shown his own example of his political query when he ran the president elections. What is surprising and uncommon, he was supported by many distinguished singers and artists of his homeland Croatia. In the intro song of his party “Nova pravednost” they sing about truth, values, and norms they are willing to live by.
“However, there may be barriers to the transmission of such messages; even overtly political songs are often shaped by and reference their contemporary political context, making an understanding of the history and events, that inspired the music, necessary in order to fully comprehend the message” (Josipović, 2023).
Later, we discussed the dyad politics-psychological reflections of a leader (including the use of emotional charge in politics). Our guest was struggling for the right expression of patriotism as well:
“Patriotism cannot be shown in laud singing of national songs, waving with flags, and screaming key words. It should be shown by the act of paying taxes, respecting the rule of law and democracy” (Josipović, 2023).
Most inspiring stories on music diplomacy from all over the world, bringing together experiences and reflections from musicians, scholars, experts, diplomats, activists, and journalists working in the field. Music diplomacy as a particular form of cultural diplomacy, is full of potential. As a universal language, music breaks down language barriers and cultural differences, with promoting cooperation, understanding and mutual respect among people, communities, and nations.
Josipović has been a visiting researcher at several prestigious institutes including the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany, the Institute for Criminal Law of the University of Graz, Austria, as well as the HEUNI Institute (European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control) in Helsinki, Finland. He has also spent time as a private researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and Private International Law in Hamburg, Germany as well the Yale University in the United States. As member of several domestic and international legal and artists’ associations he published over 85 academic and professional papers in domestic and international journals. In year 1994, he co-founded the independent Hrvatski pravni centar (Croatian Law Center).
Josipović helped to save 180 Croatian prisoners of war from Serbian detention centres and has represented Croatia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
He participated in several international projects and acted as a Council of Europe expert in evaluation of prisons in Ukraine, Mongolia and Azerbaijan.
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