Monday, February 17, 2014

Montenegro: Anti-government protests spill over from Bosnia

By Stephen Morgan in Brussels
As expected, last weeks protests in Bosnia have begun to spread to other parts of former Yugoslvia. Over the weekend hundreds of youth battled police in Podgorica, the capital of neighbouring Montenegro in a show of solidarity with Bosnians and as a protest against unemployment, corruption and government incompetence.
Their anger was particularly aimed at President Djukanovic, who they called on to resign together with his government. Djukanovic has been in power for 25 years and has virtually turned the country into his own fiefdom. Demonstrators accused him of creating a clique of family and friends, who have used their positions to enrich themselves.
Using Facebook to organize the protests on a page entitled Revolution in Montenegro, the leaders of the revolt emphasized their solidarity with Bosnians and called on people to rise up. "Bosnia has taken to the streets.” they wrote. “What are we waiting for? Tens of thousands of unemployed, hungry and robbed people should take justice into their own hands!"
One in three youth are unemployed in Montenegro and workers on the protest complained of not being able to pay their bills, which sometimes exceed 5 times their wages. "We want to live, we want to work!" they cried.
One week ago in Bosnia, demonstrators attacked government building in towns throughout the country in an amazing display of unity between Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs and Muslims led by workers angry over privatization, unpaid wages, unemployment and low living standards.
The fact that this has inspired the mostly Serbian-speaking Montenegrins to also revolt and express their solidarity with neighbouring Bosnia is extremely important, for it again shows how protests led by the working class can unite different nationalities and ethnic groups, who only 10 years ago were embroiled in a bloodbath of sectarian civil war.
There were also reports of students demonstrations in Kosovo last week. This movement could also spill over into Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia and even widen to other Balkan countries like Bulgaria and Romania.

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