Founder of the 2BS Forum and former director of the National Security Agency of Montenegro, Savo Kentera, stated that the situation in the security sector in Montenegro has never been worse, not even in the 1990s when it was thought it couldn’t get worse.
It’s not just as bad as many people think, it hasn’t deteriorated only in the last three years. If you had strong institutions, police, and the military, we wouldn’t be in this situation today. If you don’t build and strengthen the institutions of the system for decades, you cannot expect them to remain strong when a change of government occurs. I expected, after all the talks, that they would start working on strengthening these institutions and that all the talk about party employment, that parties wouldn’t have influence over these sectors, would remain on the sidelines. That didn’t happen; it intensified. What happened is that institutions that weren’t strong got even weaker, said Kentera.
He says that in the security sector, we did not see any progress in the last year.
We haven’t seen any results, but rather a cutting of everything that was done at that time, it was cut from the start, and nothing further was continued to be worked on, and that’s not good. We are sending a bad message in that way. Someone may overlook it, but they won’t forget. This does not leave a good impression of Montenegro. If you are a partner and share the values you declaratively advocate for, then you have to support that with actions – Kentera assessed.
In every country, as he said, there are institutions that should be long-term.
The ANB, the University, academies, the police, and the army are institutions that are independent and should be resistant to party influence. They must have a connection with politics, but they must be resistant to party influence. I don’t believe that in its previous incarnations, the ANB ever performed its function, which is the protection of state interests, but rather that, like other institutions, it was subordinated to the party interests of individuals – Kentera stated.
As he said, institutions like these should not be allowed to work to protect party interests.
Regarding the work of the ANB, while he was the head of that institution, he said that Montenegro achieved one of the greatest successes in the history of the service.
This was recognized from international addresses and then came my dismissal. I do not want, and I would not like to assess what the reasons are, time will show – he emphasized.
Speaking about the operation to suppress cigarette smuggling in which the ANB participated, Kentera emphasizes that the most significant role was primarily played by the Special State Prosecutor’s Office (SDT).
We from the ANB cannot take credit for what we did when we were someone who helped the SDT. Therefore, it’s their merit. We did something else, and the reaction to it was very clear and unambiguous, it came immediately after that action, from the Russian ambassador, who said that Montenegro would regret what it had done. A few days after that, I was dismissed, and that was the reaction, and then let the public judge what the reason for the dismissal was – he stated.
When asked if he would be the head of the ANB again, he said that the first time he accepted with the belief that he could change something, and he asked the then Prime Minister for political support for reforms.
I knew what awaited me; I didn’t go there blind. I knew how bad the situation was, but I couldn’t have assumed that it had gotten so bad in recent years. At that time, the Prime Minister promised unconditional support, which later was not seen in practice. Today, I would again seek unequivocal political support, which is necessary not for me, but for any director of the Agency, Kentera stated, adding that he could never be the director of the ANB in a government that is not pro-European and does not stand for the values we have been fighting for the past 20 years.
I hope that such a government comes to power. It is urgently needed for Montenegro; everything else will cost Montenegro dearly, while everything else will benefit someone else. Ask yourself who is the only one interested in preventing the formation of the government. It is in the interest of those who are doing everything to undermine that project, and those are Belgrade and Moscow, who have tried in every way to undermine that concept and will continue to work on it until the end. Therefore, Spajić and everyone else must understand that they need to have more courage, Savo Kentera said.
Kentera assessed that everything happening today is not the result of the politics of the last three years but that someone else created a fertile ground for all of this, and someone else is to blame. When asked who he meant, Kentera made it clear:
The former government and no one else. The DPS, along with everyone who allowed these things to happen, all because they did not strengthen the institutions of the system. If we had been strengthening the institutions of the system that are resilient, we would not have this today. Regarding the effectiveness of foreign policy management, how precise and error-free it has been, there have been as many errors in the interior policy, as Kentera assessed.
Kentera concludes that culture and education reform are crucial for Montenegro.
These two sectors in Montenegro have been completely degraded, and you cannot expect that new generations will think about the future and forget about retrograde ideas from the past. That’s why the DF insists on getting these positions, not the security sector. What do they need the security sector for when the new generations are being shaped by education and culture, Kentera emphasized.