PODGORICA – President of Montenegro Jakov Milatović, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, several opposition parties in Serbia, as well as civil society organizations, reacted to the decision of Serbia to deny entry to Jovana Marović yesterday.
On Wednesday afternoon, Marović, a former Minister of European Affairs of Montenegro, posted on X (formerly Twitter) that she was denied entry “for the sake of protection of the security of the Republic of Serbia and its citizens”.
In his own post on X last night, President of Montenegro Jakov Milatović wrote that he talked to Marović, who returned safely to Montenegro.
“I am surprised that she was forbidden to enter Serbia, especially having in mind her many years of engagement within the civil sector in Montenegro as well as the region. I am sure that Jovana is not a security threat for Serbia”, the President posted.
Upravo sam razgovarao sa @JoMarovic . Dobro je i stigla je u 🇲🇪. Iznenađen sam da joj je zabranjen ulazak u Srbiju, a posebno imajući u vidu njen dugogodišnji angažman u civilnom sektoru kako u 🇲🇪 tako i u regionu. Siguran sam da Jovana nije prijetnja po bezbjednost 🇷🇸. 1/2
— Jakov Milatovic 🇲🇪🇪🇺 (@JakovMilatovic) August 23, 2023
He added that forbidding entry for a different political opinion is something that should be left behind if we want to build good neighbourly relations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro released a statement on Thursday, confirming that it had requested a justification for the decision from the institutions of Serbia.
“(The Ministry) expressed the belief that this practice will not continue, because it violates democratic values and hinders the further development of good neighborly relations and regional cooperation, which are the main prerequisites for building a common European future, as a key foreign policy priority of both countries”, the statement reads.
Green-Left Front, an opposition party in Serbia, yesterday posted on X that Marović was denied entry at the Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade and that she was supposed to participate in a conference in the town of Požega.
The party stated that the real reason for banning Marović was her support for the “Serbia Against Violence” protests and a “clearly stated criticism of the regime of Aleksandar Vučić”.
Another opposition party, Together (Zajedno), also condemned the decision.
“We are proud that she (Marović) was with us on the streets of Belgrade. We express particular indignation at the mistreatment Jovana Marovic was exposed to at the Belgrade airport”, the statement of the party reads.
Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG), of which Marović is a member, also condemned the decision.
“The refusal of Serbian authorities to let BiEPAG member and Former Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro Jovana Marović enter Serbia and to deport her back to Montenegro is a scandal and an attempt to blacklist critical voices”, BiEPAG official account posted on X.
🚩The refusal of Serbian authorities to let BiEPAG member & Former Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro @JoMarovic enter #Serbia and to deport her back to #Montenegro is a scandal & an attempt to blacklist critical voices.
She is banned from entering Serbia until further notice.
— BiEPAG (@BiEPAG) August 24, 2023
Serbian CSOs: The decision shows a steep regression of democratic values in the country
Thirteen Serbian civil society organizations, including the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, European Policy Centre, CRTA, European Movement in Serbia and Centre for Contemporary Politics released a statement on Thursday afternoon, calling the denial of entry to Jovana Marović “a trampling over all democratic freedoms”.
“This recent practice of banning entry into Serbia of those “unfit” for the authorities in Serbia, which was first done to anti-war Russian activists, is now spreading to well-known friends of democratic Serbia and aims to isolate and prevent alliances with democratic activists throughout Europe, so that any criticism of the regime would be extinguished in Serbia itself”, the statement reads.
The CSOs stated that the real reason behind the decision was Marović’s publicly expressed criticism of the President of Serbia, as well as her participation in the “Serbia against violence” protests.
“This type of institutional violence against a proven fighter for democracy and human rights represents a steep regression of Serbia on the scale of democratic values and standards, and reduces any chances that Serbia with this government will have any European future”, the statement reads.
The obvious existence of blacklists of political dissidents of the regime at the borders of Serbia shows all the arrogance of the authorities and is the result of the absence or often mild reactions of the EU and the international community, the statement adds.
“That is why we demand condemnation of this procedure by the EU and the international community, and the decision to prevent the entry of Jovana Marović to be withdrawn as soon as possible, as well as for the Ministry of Interior of Serbia to apologize for such an act to Jovana”, CSOs concluded.