Krapovic Neither Invited NATO Occupation of the Region Nor Announced Media Crackdown

Original article (in Montenegrin) was published on 15/3/2024; Author: Darvin Murić

Defense Minister Dragan Krapovic’s address at the Atlantic Alliance conference has sparked considerable debate, drawing reactions from opponents of Montenegro’s NATO membership and generating widespread disinformation.

“UNBELIEVABLE – What Krapovic talked about at the NATO forum: Krapovic announces crackdown on the media and accuses Russia of wanting to transfer war to the region,” IN4S, the regularly featured outlet in our Debunked section, published.

Borba also conveyed what Krapovic said in a manner similar to IN4S.

“The woeful Krapovic overshadowed the DPS members and ambassadors at the NATO tea party organized by Pejanovic Djurisic: Kept silent about the attacks on Vucic, announced a Russian attack on the region, and asked NATO to occupy the entire neighborhood,” Borba claims.

In its article, IN4S states that Krapovic called on “NATO to put both Serbia and Montenegro under control,” while Borba goes a step further and claims that he “called on NATO to occupy the entire neighborhood.”

However, what Krapovic actually said was that the only guarantee of permanent stability in the Balkans is the complete integration of the region into NATO.

“The only guarantee of permanent stability in the Balkans is the complete integration of the region into NATO. Only then can there be stability in the region. I must emphasize that the engagement of the EU and NATO must be greater. They must give greater importance to their presence in the Western Balkans,” Krapovic said.

It is evident that there is absolutely no call for occupation and “control,” as interpreted by Borba and IN4S.

Furthermore, countries voluntarily join NATO, meaning when a country wants to join the Alliance,it formally indicates its intention to adhere to the North Atlantic Treaty. If all the members agree, NATO then invites the country to begin accession talks.

“The remaining steps involve the signing of the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of the invited country. This is known as the Accession Protocol. Every Member State must sign and ratify the Accession Protocol. Once they have done so, they notify the US Government, which is the depositary for the Treaty. An invited country only joins NATO when every member has deposited their instruments of accession with the US Government,” as explained on the website of the British Parliament.

Therefore, NATO has neither covered nor occupied Montenegro, Albania, Croatia and Slovenia. These countries joined the membership voluntarily.

Furthermore, IN4S and Borba accuse Krapovic of “announcing a crackdown on the media that do not promote NATO values.”

These two portals have conveyed a part of Krapovic’s address related to disinformation and the media, claiming that the Minister of Defense called for a “crackdown on the media that do not promote NATO values.”

“He hinted at a crackdown on ‘pro-Russian’ media spreading disinformation in Montenegro, which was detected by the former US ambassador to Montenegro,” Borba and IN4S state.

They further quote Krapovic announcing that proposed laws will narrow the possibility of media manipulation.

Other media outlets have also reported what the minister said about media manipulation, but without the mention of the former US ambassador allegedly “identifying” those media outlets.

“He said that the government will ‘narrow the possibility of such media manipulations’ through a set of media laws and ‘strengthen our capacity to respond to cyber and hybrid warfare. This leaves a sentiment in society from previous times. It leaves room for manipulation of citizens. We must increase citizens’ awareness through timely reporting,” Vijesti reports.

Therefore, there were no threats to the media “that do not promote NATO values”. It was a mere announcement of new media laws that will have additional mechanisms to combat disinformation or ways to sanction those who disseminate it.

Similar announcements were made at the CDT’s conference by Minister of Culture and Media Tamara Vujovic, who said that one of the mechanisms to combat disinformation would be that the laws would enable fining of media founders who spread disinformation.

“It is envisaged that the Media Pluralism Fund, which is significant in financial terms, can only be accessed by media that are duly registered in the register and are in the self-regulation mechanism and have not been banned from broadcasting due to hate speech in the previous six months. The same applies to the media if their founder has been convicted of hate speech or spreading disinformation. It is established that the public sector cannot advertise in media that are not registered,” Vujovic said.

Considering all the above, the publications of IN4S and Borba are assessed as disinformation.

The “Disinformation” rating is given to a media report that contains a “mix “of facts and incorrect or half-true content. In such cases, the media may not necessarily be aware of incorrect information being published alongside the true ones. Also, this grade will be given to media reports with false attributions or titles that do not reflect the text in terms of information accuracy.

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