The Status of Montenegro is a Democratic Issue
by Miodrag Perovic
The status of Montenegro is a democratic issue. This is why it is legitimate to expect, in the anticipation of a referendum on this issue, the appearance of both a movement for independence and a movement for preservation of the common state. The only trouble is that this latter movement is offering an undemocratic solution to a democratic issue even before its formal constitution. This is indicated by the recent proposal of Metropolitan Amfilohije Radović that it should be led by the Serb Orthodox Church (SPC), i.e. the patriarch. Church leadership in a political confrontation narrows the field for social dialogue, and takes the church into an arena that is alien to its calling. Apart from Iran, there is no other place in the world where the church is so politically active as the SPC is in Serbia and Montenegro.
Amfilohije Radović, one of the SPC leaders, agitated for the war, took part in it, and after its conclusion continues to fight for the ideas that led to the war. He played the gusle to cheer the soldiers on the Dubrovnik theatre of war, while they shelled the ancient city; he lived in the mountains around Sarajevo, while they showered it with death and destruction; he invited Arkan and his friends to point their guns from the Cetinje monastery windows against people demonstrating against the war and the abuse of religion. After the war he continued to erase signs of cultural coexistence - e.g. churches with two altars - from the soil of Montenegro, and to spread hatred throughout the land. A movement for preservation of the common state led by a person who does not accept tolerance as a civilizational achievement cannot be an alternative to the projected movement for independence, which makes sense only if it seeks also to be a movement for Montenegro’s democratic reconciliation.
The form of union with Serbia has been imposed on Montenegro three times since the dissolution of the Yugoslav state. The fake Yugoslavia - FRY - was installed by Milošević’s puppets with a ‘referendum’ and the Montenegrin constitution of 1992, and then anew with the amendments to the federal state of 2000. The current state union of Serbia and Montenegro was formed under the diktat of Brussels. This construction cannot survive, therefore, without gaining a democratic legitimacy. Reconciliation is not possible without justice, and cannot be achieved until a decision about the country’s status has been reached by the free will of Montenegro’s population. The true question is not how to prevent a referendum, but how to ensure the democratic nature of the process leading to that decision. Reaching an agreement on this issue would begin to heal the old wound of Montenegro’s divisions. The Montenegro of the 21st century must be created in the opposite way to that which prevailed in the 20th century. Help should be sought from the international community for the realization of this aim, and not for maintenance of an illegitimate Serbia and Montenegro that most Montenegrin citizens view as a product of violence.
A longer form of this comment appears in Monitor (Podgorica), 10 December 2004