I will not work against Montenegro - interview
by Zeljko Bogetic
>I believe that each Montenegrin at the G-17 meeting should consider whether there is any sense in belonging to a group whose leadership works directly against the interests of Montenegro,= says Dr Zeljko Bogetic, explaining the reasons why he left G-17 plus. Bogetic, an International Monetary Fund expert, has worked for the last ten years as an economist on macroeconomic and structural reform in a series of countries. He has headed a number of World Bank and IMF missions. He has published four books and over one hundred scholarly papers. When G-17 was founded in Belgrade, Bogetic got involved, joining a group of economists who were supposed to help reconstruct the devastated economies of Montenegro and Serbia, and also destroy the illusions created by the regime economists. >Group 17 was originally formed with the aim of joining the voice of economic expertise in Montenegro and Serbia to citizens= protests against the economic catastrophe into which the governing oligarchy in Serbia has led our country over the course of the past ten years. The idea was that systematic monitoring and independent analysis of the economic situation decreases the space for unbelievable abuses of economic policy, like for example the hyperinflation of 1992-3, for which the National Bank of Yugoslavia - along with financial institutions linked to it and interest groups that it controls - was directly responsible,= says Bogetic.
I Will Not Work Against Montenegro
- an interview with Zeljko Bogetic
What motivated you to become a member of Group 17?
The Groups original mission was at first largely fulfilled, through numerous initiatives and publications in which I myself participated to a certain extent. A less clearly articulated but implicit assumption was that after democratization in Serbia the Group, or some of its individual members, could get involved in the difficult task of restoring key economic institutions and levers of economic policy that had been destroyed. In any case, the basic aims of the original Group were reorientation of the economic profession away from the Serbian regime, scholarly analysis of the effects of that regime on living standards, and the development of a high-quality economic platform after democratisation.
What changed in the Group in the meantime?
The coordinator of the Group, Mladjan Dinkic, became more and more involved in Serbian politics, which led to certain tensions in the Group, because it was unclear whom he was representing in these political activities. Unfortunately, Dinkic moved over to the political terrain of the ruling oligarchy in Serbia and began to work directly against the interests of Montenegro. The first sign of abandonment of the Group=s basic values appeared right after last year=s war. At that time the Group wrote a report entitled >Final bill=, in which the destruction caused by the bombing was listed, but all blame for the destruction experienced by Serbia was placed on the international community, in effect taking over the rhetoric of the ruling oligarchy about >us= and >them=, about domestic traitors and foreign forces.
I informed Dinkic of my views on the use of such a tone in the report; and when I realised that I was in the minority and the report would have a powerful >anti-international= tone, I decided not to put my name to it. In this way, a once basically expert, internationalist group moved tacitly onto the same terrain as the xenophobic nationalism it had been created to combat. Then >Group 17 plus= was created, as an exclusively Serb NGO, to support the Serbian opposition; it skilfully used the marketing capital previously built up by G-17, while the work of the original group became fairly passive.
It is also indicative that Dinkic became an advisor to Dr Kotunica, that same opposition figure who some years previously in Washington, in front of a roomful of key US and international listeners, had found it appropriate in the course of a pathetic monologue to criticise and smear just one institution in the FRY: the government of Montenegro and its recently elected president. On that occasion Dr Kotunica did not once criticise the political or economic performance of the Serbian authorities, or the enormous misery of the nation; nor did he mention the billions of dollars which have disappeared from Serbian banks, or the forgotten Loan for Serbia; nor did he mention any least bit of responsibility that anyone in Serbia might bear, for God=s sake, for its catastrophe and the collapse of the former country.
Dinkic also supported the so-called Federal electionsY
Yes, a clear example that Dinkic (or the Group as a whole) had moved over to the political terrain of the governing parties in Serbia was precisely his support for the federal elections, called on the basis of illegal and illegitimate changes to the constitution, which effectively erase the Republic of Montenegro from the political space of FRY, and forcibly >annex= Montenegro to a unitary state similar to that of 1919. Dinkic=s agitation among the citizens of Montenegro by means of some >independent lists=,with the aim of dragging Montenegro >by the back door= and with the brotherly help of the local SPS into this farce which someone has the cheek to call >elections=, is for me a confirmation of what the majority in Montenegro unfortunately already knows: the Serbian democratic opposition, if it can be called that at all, hardly differs from the regime on the question of Montenegro and its right democratically to choose its own future. For that reason I decided no longer to be a member of a Group whose coordinator works directly against the interests of Montenegro.
What is the position of other members of the Group on the question of the so-called Federal elections?
I don=t know, and it is of course a personal matter for each individual. But I think that a significant part of the Group is fairly passive or simply allows Dinkic to do and say what he wants. In the Group, it should be said, there are individual people with exceptional professional and human qualities, especially Branko Milanovic, Ljuba Madzar and Miroslav Labus, whose professional and moral capital will some day, I am sure, be of great use in a period of true democratization of Serbia. But I think that every Montenegrin in the Group should consider whether there is any sense in belonging to a body whose leadership is working directly against the interests of Montenegro.
This interview (by Branko Vojicic) has been translated from Monitor (Podgorica), 8 September 2000