Prime Minister Edi Rama accepted the apology of his counterpart, Dritan Abazovic, after the violent incident at the border point where Montenegrin policemen mistreated Professor Petraq Milo. Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic warned that such ethnically based events are expected to happen, as they are deliberately intended to influence the climate of the May 19 elections in Montenegro. However, activists and lawyers in Albania raise the concern that at the border crossing points with neighbouring countries, there has often been mistreatment of Albanian citizens and that the best answer is some active ‘diplomacy’ and investigative process to the end for those responsible, in respect for the dignity of citizens and the Albanian state.
About 1 and a half months ago, a video was circulated showing the violence of the Montenegrin police against the Albanian citizen Petraq Milo. But what was even more serious was another video that shows even more brutal details from this very incident.
After numerous reactions in the media and beyond, including the public apology of the Montenegrin Prime Minister Abazovic, the head of the Albanian government, Edi Rama accepted the apology of his counterpart regarding the incident, after the joint meeting of the governments in Podgorica. But what stood out in this statement was a kind of understanding that Prime Minister Rama showed towards this event.
“I want to thank him for the fact that as soon as that ugly video was released, he personally and the Minister of Interior called the professor and apologized to him. All measures have been taken for the persons in question.
All this is done with the utmost finesse and with the utmost wisdom. These things happen, they happen to Albanians with the Albanian police or Montenegrins with the Montenegrin police. These are the occasions that certain people look forward to, so they can feed flames of nationalism and demand that diplomatic relations be severed. That’s why we need more regional cooperation”, declared Prime Minister Rama, among other things.
A timeline of the event that made the rounds of the network and outraged the public
On February 4, Faktoje published a full article about the incident and the publication of the first video.
Referring to information from official institutions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged the event by announcing: “Our embassy in Montenegro informs us that on January 16, 2023, from confidential sources at the scene, it was announced that in the joint Sukhobin/Murriqan border crossing point, specifically, within the Montenegrin territory, a violent incident occurred with an Albanian citizen (identified by us as Mr. Petraq Milo), who was mistreated by a Montenegrin border police officer (identified by us as officer Dragan Scekic)”.
Video of the serious incident
However, when tension seemed to fade away, another serious video was published in the media on February 21st, where you can clearly see how the professor and official Petraq Milo is physically attacked by the Montenegrin authorities at the border. The publication of these images of serious violence against an Albanian citizen brought a “river” of reactions and actions from the official authorities.
A day after these images, the Montenegrin authorities announced the arrest of two police officers, Nikola Boljević and Dragan Šćekić. Referring to the media of the neighboring country, according to the laws in force, the officers risk from 3 months to 3 years in prison for abuse of duty.
Screenshot, the news reflected in the Montenegrin media
Reactions to the event
In connection with the incident, the Albanian ambassador in Montenegro, Ridian Kurtezi, said that the embassy has asked the authorities to identify the policemen and punish them accordingly.
“The event should not affect the progress of the very good relations between our countries. There was immediate engagement. On January 15, the embassy in Podgorica was informed that a violent incident occurred in Muriqan against Petraq Milo, who was mistreated by two policemen. After collecting some photos and facts from the field, we requested that the officers be identified and punished. On February 17, the policemen were identified and the border crossing point was asked to provide the footage and a detailed report thereof”, said the Albanian ambassador.
After the publication of the serious images, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazovic, stated that Mr. Milo had not respected the queue at the border.
“It’s not like someone targeted someone and just pulled them out of the car. Someone must have committed an offence. Traffic rules and queues were not respected,” Abazovic said.
He further added that as the presidential elections are approaching, other ethnic-based tensions are expected.
“As we approach March 19th, more videos are expected, including nationalism, tensions, the creation of a bad atmosphere in relation to Bosniaks, Albanians, minorities,” the Montenegrin Prime Minister declared.
The reaction of Petraq Milo
Referring to reports in the media of the neighboring country, which quote the Minister of the Interior, Filip Adžić, Mr. Milo apologized to the police for his behavior, since the latter tried to cross the border out of the queue and when the police approached him, he refused to cooperate.
Meanwhile, on February 27th, Petraq Milo stated in ” Euronews ” that he would hold a meeting with Abazovic, and thanking him for the apology.
“Thank you for the statements you made. Of course, I gave him my word that I will go to see him under the condition that what he said last week would be refuted, I will also talk to my family and think about it,” said Milo.
Problems for Albanian citizens at the border?
Lawyer and activist Adriatik Lapaj told Faktoje that at many border crossing points with neighboring countries and not only, there has been mistreatment of Albanian citizens.
“In fact, over the years, Albanian citizens have been mistreated at the borders of neighboring countries, but also at the borders of other countries that are not neighbours with us. This is because the passport of our country unfortunately does not carry the right weight due to the way our country has been built in relation to third countries and the lack of dignity given to our country by those who have run it over the years, exposed as a crime-producing, human-trafficking, drug-trafficking country. This has caused other countries to treat us as second-class citizens. In many cases of violence used against Albanian citizens, no responsibility has been held and as a result this has returned to the streets, not only at that border point, but at many points there has been mistreatment of Albanian citizens”, declared Lapaj.
He further suggests:
“The steps that will have to be taken by our state are the steps that any normal state takes in cases where it finds a violation of the rights of its citizens. Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to call the ambassador of the state of Montenegro to communicate the position of the Albanian government regarding the mistreatment of Albanian citizens and, in this case, by the police of the neighboring country. And they should ask him to take continuous administrative measures, since criminal ones are in the hands of the justice of the Montenegrin state. It is necessary for our ambassador in Montenegro to closely follow the disciplinary and administrative proceedings against these policemen and the criminal investigation process against them, being present step by step in the process, as far as the criminal procedural law and the administrative law of Montenegro allows” the lawyer said.