The mural in Brussels (below) was created in the framework of an EU-Western Balkans cultural week, arranged by the EEAS in April 2019. Dedicated by the artist Rikardo Druškić to the people of the EU and the Western Balkans, its title “It is only with the heart that one can see well” referenced his invitation to look at each other with an open heart.
Following up on this initiative, an open call for mural proposals was launched by the EU4ME project, run by the Montenegrin government and funded by the EU. A number of local artists submitted proposals for the three murals to be created in the cities of Podgorica, Bar and Bijelo Polje, on the theme of “Me for Europe, Europe for me” (where “me” can be read as an acronym for Montenegro). A jury consisting of an artist and representatives of the municipalities, government and UNDP selected the three winning proposals and artists – Mia Pejović for the painting in Podgorica, Pavle Cvijović for Bijelo Polje and the Kunstler group, consisting of Danijela Darmanović Mahmutović, Anđela Mršulja and Marija Raketić, for the mural in Bar.
The murals bear testimony to strong ties between Montenegro and he European Union, the organisers expressed, serving as a reminder that Montenegro has been part of the European family for centuries. “The murals, in different ways, carry a similar message that we are united geographically but also in our tradition and in our common historical experience”, Aleksandar Bogdanović, Minister of Culture, stated.
Mia Pejović, one of the artists, commented: “The mural in Podgorica was best described by a passerby, who understood the message of the work. One elderly lady recognized in the mural a blend of the past and the future, Matisse and old Podgorica, a bond between the cultures of Europe and Podgorica, that is, Montenegro.“
Aleksandar Drljević, Chief Negotiator for the accession of Montenegro to the European Union, said the murals confirm that the place of the Western Balkans is in the EU, and that the citizens of Montenegro want to see Montenegro as a full member of the EU: “The accession process is not a job of just one person, institution, organisation or media, but of the Montenegrin society as a whole.”
Aivo Orav, Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, concluded that art has connected Europeans for centuries, and that the “[m]urals symbolize Montenegro, but also clearly show that Montenegro is already part of the European family, either through music, art, culture or through expressing solidarity in times of crisis."