During the last Political Youth Network General Assembly, Youth of the Social Democrats of Montenegro joined the network. We asked Nikola Zirojević, the president of the Youth some questions. Read his answers below
Hello, Nikola! Tell us something about yourself!
I am Nikola Zirojević from Nikšić, Montenegro, BSC of electronics, telecommunications, and computers. Currently, I attend specialisation studies in the field of telecommunications. I am the spokesperson of the Social Democrats of Montenegro, the secretary of the parliamentary club of the Social Democrats of Montenegro in the Parliament of Montenegro. Also, I am the president of the Youth of the Social Democrats of Montenegro. I am interested in a wide range of topics, of which I would especially like to single out politics, security, youth, and sustainable development.
Look back at the start of your political activism. What was your motivation? What was the reason behind your decision to be actively engaged in politics?
Even as a child I knew I wanted to get involved in politics. When people ask me this question, I make a brief comparison between me and my peers when we were children. While the other kids from the neighborhood ran home to watch their favorite cartoon, I could hardly wait for the new assembly session, but of course, I also loved cartoons. Despite being considered a dishonorable job in Montenegro, I have always seen politics as an opportunity to help, contribute and make this society better. By personal example I hope to show that this job does not have to be dishonest, but it can be used to create a better environment for the life of all citizens.
What are the most valuable lessons you learned through political activism? What skills and knowledge it helped you to acquire?
I learned a lot through the work I do in the Parliament. I got acquainted with the way the state apparatus functions, numerous laws, and other acts, all parliamentary procedures. From my fellow MPs, but also from other party officials, I learned a lot about various topics, starting from the economy, social affairs, health, education, to all other topics important for society. Also, through life and work in the party, I learned that sometimes a person has to accept the position of the majority, even though s/he does not completely or even at all agree with it, but also how to deal with numerous unpleasant and unwanted situations in life. When I add it all up, I would say that this job teaches a person not only professional knowledge but also how to fight for himself in general in life.
Share with us one memory, anecdote or story from your political experience you cherish the most.
One of my favorite memories that I always remember very fondly is the night of the 2016 local elections in Tivat. These elections were the first in which my party, the Social Democrats of Montenegro, ran after its formal establishment in mid-2015. Every beginning is difficult, so this beginning of ours was difficult as well. That is why we did not have excessive expectations. A goal that we set, and with which we would be completely satisfied, was 2 board mandates. Aware of the fact that after these elections we face the biggest challenge, the parliamentary elections in which we should deserve parliamentary status for the first time, we saw these local elections either as a wind in the back or as an absolute demotivation for what lies ahead. Thus, we directed all our human resources because we did not have others, to Tivat. After the polls closed, results began to arrive. The euphoria started from the very beginning because we won far more votes than expected at each polling station. In the end, when all the votes were counted, it was announced that the Social Democrats, with over 10% of voter support, won 4 seats, twice as many than we expected. This is how our start looked like and it was the strongest wind in the back for everything we achieved after that, and each subsequent result was only better.
How would you describe your experience with the Political Youth Network’s activities? What does regional cooperation mean to you?
The organization I represent became a full member of PYN at the last meeting, so relatively recently. Before that, we had representatives at only several events. The experience with the organization so far, despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is very satisfactory. As far as regional cooperation is concerned, I see it as one of the most important segments of dealing with politics. I believe that without a strong, tightly connected region, there are no strong states individually and that together, gathered on adequate grounds, benevolent towards each other, we can achieve much more than working alone.
Nowadays we are faced with global challenges that require much solidarity and responsibility. What is your desired vision of the world after the crisis ends? What message do you have for young politically active young people in the region?
Above all, I want a world without fear of endangering dear people we are in physical contact with. Somehow it seems to me that, for this year and a half, we have forgotten how we lived before. Every handshake, every hug, every kiss today poses a potential risk. Unfortunately, even that, all together, did not make us wiser and taught us that human lives and health are the most important. We are still waging wars, we are still trying to achieve our interests by violating the ones of others. My vision of the world after the pandemic is to turn to those values that are really important – precisely international cooperation, preservation of the environment and the planet we live on, sustainable development, new technologies, to invest more in health, education, social care, and youth instead of investing in the military. … That is my message to all young politically active people in the region – let’s forget the divisions based on what we are called, to whom we pray to or where we come from. Let’s join forces and work together for the betterment of all of us, the whole region. Such a path is a much faster path to the society of the most developed countries in the world, a better standard of living, and happier life for each of us.
Why did you decide to join the Political Youth Network? Have you previously had experience in regional cooperation?
For us, PYN was a step forward in the development of regional cooperation between us and other organizations of young people. As I said before, this topic is, in the organization I lead, a top priority so we are open to cooperation and membership in any organization or network on whose agenda it is. I have previous experiences with regional cooperation, from where I carry beautiful memories, but also great knowledge and experience I gained. Most importantly, through regional cooperation, I gained many friends with whom I am still in contact.