Open Varhelyi

Open letter from the NGO “Montenegro
International” to all foreign embassies in
Montenegro, EC, EU Parliament in Strasbourg

Your Excellencies, although it is said that there is too much history in the
Balkans, we should instead consider an unfinished history. Some Balkan countries,
created after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, acquired a hegemonic character with
their territorial expansion and still have ambitions to expand their state and national
space. It appears as if the EU needs to be made aware of this fact. It also seems that,
when choosing the personalities who are in charge of monitoring the process of meeting
the requirements for EU accession of candidates from the Western Balkans, the EU did
not take enough into account the fact that politicians in the Balkans are prone to lies,
fraud, behind-the-scenes actions, dirty, and underground strategies. Also, the strategy
that the most numerous and territorially largest countries receive special treatment and
are overlooked is not a good strategy because it is always to the detriment of the
countries towards which these countries have aspirations.

The committee for foreign affairs of the European Parliament intends to
launch an investigation these days due to the report that Oliver Varhelyi, the EU
enlargement commissioner in charge of the Western Balkans, is “intentionally
undermining reforms in the field of democracy and the rule of law in EU candidate
countries.” Unfortunately, this reaction is subsequent and very late. For those who wanted
to know, Varhelyi's behavior and biased attitude towards specific policies in the Balkans
and towards the Balkans are not unexpected, given that he is a man who can thank the
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, his long-term contributor. Who Viktor Orban
is, what kind of politics he performs, and the nature of his relationship with the
President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, needs no explanation. In its initiative, the
European Parliament tends to hypocritically avoid mentioning that Oliver Varhelyi was
a logistical supporter of Vučić's policy in the Western Balkans and Serbia's ambitions to
increase its influence in the region, despite the fact that it is a country with an

authoritarian rule, in which human rights and freedoms are violated, a country without
democratic institutions, with the terror of the majority over the minority, etc. Varhelji
tried to hide or mitigate these facts in his reports. (“Critical statements, such as those
concerning media freedom in Serbia, were removed from our reports, while bad ratings
were changed to better ones”).

This initiative is not the first. Initiatives have already been launched several
times in the European Parliament. Such was “launching an investigation” into the role of
the European commissioner for enlargement in helping the “separatist activities” of the
Serbian member of the BiH Presidency Milorad Dodik in BiH. Similar is the knowledge
that the commissioner and his cabinet “have recently systematically mitigated criticism”
against Serbia in their reports on the progress of candidates for EU accession. Also,
when it comes to the latest report of the European Commission on the progress of
Montenegro that was rated as “the worst so far,“ Varhelyi said that it was not true “that
this report is worse than the previous ones,” relativizing thus the catastrophic situation
in Montenegro. He also claimed that “the signing of the Fundamental Agreement
between the state of Montenegro and the SPC did not have a negative impact on the
reforms.“ However, this negative impact is explicitly stated in the mentioned report.
Regarding Montenegro, Varhelyi was an active commissar of Vučić's and
Serbian underground policy towards Montenegro. In his reports, there was no place for
the open politics of the “Serbian world,” the interference of official and unofficial Serbia
in the internal political situation in Montenegro, the political role of the SPC in
parliamentary elections and the constitution of the government, for risks to stability and
security due to the collapse of the security system and the influence of the services of
other countries, for the presence of actors from Serbia and the Republic of Srpska on the
media scene, and for uncontrolled web space. The role and position of the SPC and the
severe problems caused by the signing of the “Fundamental Agreement” were explained
superficially at a time when it was highly unfavorable to political stability and reforms in
the country. Not to mention the constitutionally and legally disputed content and the
manner in which that contract was abrogated by the arbitrariness of a part of the
government that ignored a serious public discussion.

The very act from September 2021, when the reorganization of the General
Directorate for neighborhood and enlargement negotiations was carried out and when
Montenegro was attached to the unit in charge of Serbia – although until then,
Montenegro had a separate office and had made the most progress in negotiations with
the EU (opened all 35 negotiation chapters, of which three are temporarily closed: 25-
Science and research, 26- Education and culture, and 30- Foreign affairs) – speaks of
the intention to have Montenegro regressed and equalized with Serbia so that it does not
enter the EU before Serbia. The hegemonic project of Aleksandar Vučić, called Open
Balkans, as a fraudulent initiative to unify the area of the Western Balkans in the
economic and political sense, is nothing more than the intention to distance
Montenegro from European integration and tie it to the countries and areas that are far
from the EU and leave Montenegro without any chance to be a part of the EU in the
foreseeable future. Such an initiative, in which two non-democratic countries take the
lead without established democratic rules and mechanisms for their implementation,

would only be a space for the national, cultural, and economic homogenization of the
two most numerous peoples of the region, Serbs and Albanians, with political reprisals
on all the surrounding countries in which parts of those two nations are present. “Open
Balkans” is not a process of integration and pacification of the Western Balkans, but, on
the contrary, pouring gasoline on an already flammable area and reviving hegemonic
projects, which have already cost the Balkans hundreds of thousands of dead and
millions of victims of violence. Varhelyi's actions make him a part of such politics.
WE ask the EU to carefully select the human resources it delegates to the area
of the Western Balkans. These people should be ready to familiarize themselves with
historical and other Western Balkans facts. These people should not ignore and
deliberately downplay some notorious facts, such as the existence of the SPC in
Montenegro, for pragmatic reasons. They should be personalities who will work for
justice for all nations, especially those most threatened by their size. Opportunism
towards the strongest should not be the prevailing policy regarding the Western



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