A local official in the town of Berane has asked the Montenegrin government to pay for the construction of a monument to WWII Chetnik commander Pavle Djurisic, who was killed in 1945.
The initiative to honour the wartime leader of the royalist Chetnik movement in Montenegro was put forward on Tuesday by Goran Kikovic, the head of the local council in Berane, the hometown of Pavle Djurisic.
Kikovic urged the Montenegrin government to finance the construction of a monument in the northern town.
“This is an opportunity for everyone to reconcile and forget divisions... because we know that both Chetniks and Partisans were anti-fascists,” Kikovic told daily newspaper Pobjeda.
He said that the initiative will be sent to Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and expressed hope that his request will be approved.
Djurisic, a former officer in the army of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was one of Chetnik leader Draza Mihailovic’s closest associates.
His supporters claim that he was an anti-fascist and a fighter for the liberation of Montenegro when he joined Mihailovic’s troops at the end of 1941.
But some historians claim that he personally lead the Chetnik army into fierce battles with the Communist Partisans in Montenegro on behalf of the Italian army, which occupied the country in 1941.
Durisic’s troops were accused of being responsible for the killing of hundreds of civilians in the northern region of the country.
A committee comprised of local admirers of Durisic in Berane and pro-Serb organisations in Montenegro is to announce Tuesday and to announce the construction of the monument in Berane, as well as another in the nearby village of Zaostro, where it is believed that the Chetnik movement’s command in the north of Montenegro was located during WWII.
The committee will also adopt a declaration of reconciliation which will call for “the two anti-fascist movements in Montenegro, Chetnik and Partisan” to be seen as equal.
It claimed that “Chetnik Duke Pavle Durisic was one of the leaders of the 13th of July anti-fascist uprising in 1941” – a date that is celebrated as a Montenegrin Statehood Day.
The idea of creating a Djurisic monument is not new.
In 2003, a memorial to Djurisic was erected in Zaostro but because it was built without permission, the state authorities removed it.
The removal was secured by a deployment of riot police because of fears of possible violence amid strong opposition from Djurisic’s supporters.
After the break-up of the Chetnik movement in 1944, Djurisic retreated with his troops to Bosnia and Croatia.
He was killed in April 1945, after a conflict with Croatian fascist-allied Ustasa troops in Ljevac Polje, near Banja Luka in Bosnia.