bosnia report
New Series No: 19/20 October - December 2000
 
Montenegro: what price independence - round table
by Miodrag Perovic, Nebojsa Medojevic, Miodrag Vlahovic, Milorad Popovic, Milan Popovic, Zarko Rakcevic, Branko Lukovac, Srdjan Darmanovic, Miodrag Vukovic

Montenegro: what price independence?

In October 2000 the Montenegrin independent weekly Monitor celebrated ten years of its existence. It marked the occasion by inviting a number of prominent individuals to a round table discussion on Montenegro’’s present and future. We reproduce most of the contributions below, in abridged form.

Dr Miodrag Perovic

Member of the Doclean Academy of Arts and Science

Independence is the only option

The most important question right now is not who is responsible for the past catastrophe: the regional war, the death of hundreds of thousands, the economic regression. More relevant for us is the fact that Montenegro, which after 1989 became administered as a Serbian colony, has found within itself sufficient resources to resist this and begin the process of its recovery: to affirm its own identity and to seek its own place in Europe.

Now that the dictatorship in Serbia is beginning to be dismantled, Montenegro must urgently decide whether it wishes to continue to exist as an appendix of Serbia or to enter the process of European integration as an independent state. In the article I wrote for the New Year issue of Monitor, I showed that Montenegro can best realise its vital interests as an independent state for the following reasons:

1. A common state of Serbia and Montenegro cannot function on the principle of equality, since 5% cannot hope to be equal with 95% within a system in which decisions are made by the will of the majority, i.e. on the basis of one man, one vote.

2. It is impossible to have common foreign and internal policies that equally suit both partners. As a small state Montenegro’’s existential interest is to maintain good relations with its neighbours. National tolerance and multiculturalism have been our choice. Serbia, on the other hand, has for the past century and a half behaved like a regional power, which has led it to live in permanent conflict with its national minorities.

3. Montenegro as a maritime state, with tourism as a vital branch of its economy, must have a different economic structure and orientation from a continental country like Serbia.

4. The fact that whenever Montenegro surrendered its state autonomy to Serbia, this led to its very existence being endangered by its ally, is a sufficient reason for not entering into any arrangement that would place it once again in such a position.

Many hold the view that the international community is against Montenegro’’s independence. Montenegro’’s independence, however, is not in conflict with any strategic interest of the United States or the European Union. The most important question for them has been that such a step might cause regional instability, but the changes in Belgrade should soon make this caution unnecessary. Unless, however, Montenegro manifests its political will to become an independent state, the international community, guided by the principle of inertia, will continue to oppose all changes in the region.

*****

Nebojšša Medojevic

Member of Group 17

The illusion of active waiting

During the past three years, despite the Montenegrin government’’s changed attitude to Belgrade, there has been no consistent pressure on it to begin a process of reform. The absence of external pressure can be explained by the fact that Montenegro is not an independent state, a similar lack of internal pressure by the fact that the ruling party in Serbia acted also as the main opposition party in Montenegro. Both political oligarchies profited from this situation, which made it unlikely that they would wish to change the status quo.

Our civil society is rather weak, given that Montenegro does not have a democratic tradition. What prevented it, however, from acting as an effective pressure group was the de facto non-aggression pact agreed between the Montenegrin intelligentsia and Milo Djukanovic. The main message was that it was not the time to criticize the government, since this would aid Milošševic and his forces. Milošševic thus became an alibi for all our faults and failures, including the postponement of reforms and the failure to adopt the standards that define all normal European states. Our privatisation, for example, has been conducted in such manner that the whole idea has become discredited among our people, which will create a difficult problem for a future, more committed new government.

The only source of pressure which applied in our case was our budgetary deficit. A state deficit is a signal to all governments to do something, since otherwise they cannot pay their officials. In our case, however, the international community stepped in to fill the gap, saying it wished to support Montenegro - which was not quite true, since it supported only the Montenegrin government. All this contributed to a situation in which our government was able to do nothing.

Montenegrin politics during the past three years was structured by the factor called Slobodan Milošševic: everything that it did, it did in a passive reaction against Milošševic’’s aggressive behaviour. It found, however, no courage to produce a single national plan dealing with our economy, politics, culture, etc. that would stand the test of time. Now that Milošševic is gone, the Montenegrin government does not know what to do. Its policy of active vacillation is best illustrated by the statement made recently by Mr Vukovic, who said that the Montenegrin democratic project is already well known in the world. Today, however, when the tectonic shift in Belgrade is forcing every government in the region to redefine their political stance, it is highly irresponsible for the Montenegrin government not to do likewise.

*****

Miodrag Vlahovic

Director of the Centre for Regional Studies

The dangers of a black-and-white approach

Montenegro’’s situation is defined by three basic determinations. The first is external and represents a great unknown. We simply do not know how what has remained, economically and politically speaking, of Serbian society will behave in the months to come. Much will be clarified by the forthcoming republican elections.

The second factor defining Montenegro’’s current options (by Montenegro I mean the totality of its society, including those of its elements that are loyal primarily to Serbia) is the highly schematic, and for us most unfavourable, understanding of what is happening in Montenegro and its neighbourhood that prevails in Washington and Brussels. For us who have been trying so hard to forge a proper response to the problems of modernity for a small and complex society like Montenegro, this oversimplified and indeed erroneous view held by states with enormous influence in the region may be annoying; nevertheless we must understand its nature and motives, if we are to measure up to it.

We should not be surprised by the seeming euphoria displayed by international statesmen and diplomats following Milošševic’’s departure. The Montenegrin government too is glad that the danger threatening Montenegro has been removed. This understandable sense of relief, however, has negative implications for Montenegro, in that its legitimate aspiration towards independence is at present being ruled out.

The third cardinal factor is lack of preparedness among those who define Montenegrin politics. The ruling coalition contains the People’’s Party (NS), whose electoral weight (1-2%) does not mirror the extent of its influence in the government, quite apart from the fact that its political orientation runs contrary to that of the Montenegrin mainstream. The larger Social-Democratic Party (SDP) is trying to offer certain solutions at this delicate moment for Montenegro, but their realisation would endanger the coalition. It is the dominant party, the Party of Democratic Socialists (DPS), which holds the key - or the larger part of the answer - to what Montenegro will do in the near future.

I do not envy those who have to make decisions. We live in times when simplifications are counter-productive. Our situation does not permit black-and-white answers. Such answers, if sought, could prevent Montenegro from realising what is at present its essential interest: to define and formalise what the country has managed to regain - its economic, political and cultural potential - in a manner that would preserve and confirm it. For this to happen, formal independence need not be a precondition.

I believe that the ‘‘problem’’ lies in our will for independence. We are still considered to be important, but the balance has changed. Montenegro has become for the West a troublesome factor in their attempt to restore Serbia’’s position in the Balkans. Our aspirations are both legitimate and legal, but they have never been articulated in terms of independence at all costs. We have not used our national preponderance to beat the path to independence. Montenegrin nationalism does not inspire our social, political and cultural efforts. We are not moved by revanchism. Nor are we ready to contemplate civil war in order to realise our otherwise legitimate right to independence. The question of independence is a pragmatic, practical question. Purpose, efficiency, possibility are the prerequisites for this option to become a necessary and practical reality.

We find ourselves in a situation of being routinely warned by important foreign officials that our determination to win independence could lead to our society’’s pauperisation, if not its collapse; that we would be faced with serious social difficulties, which neither this nor any future government would be able to deal with. Right now we have time, albeit of limited duration, to solve the ‘‘problem’’; but this depends not only on Montenegro but on Serbia as well - and I do not feel optimistic in regard to the latter. Our political leaders’’ most important task today is to utilise the democratically confirmed will of the majority of our population in a manner that would be most propitious for our country. The delicate balance within the ruling coalition, in the absence of this being changed by the intervention of other forces of a democratic and pro-Montenegrin orientation, could lead to a situation in which, instead of advancing, we would be pushed back: i.e that we would find ourselves forced to conduct fresh elections rather than a referendum. If, on the other hand, it proves true that the international community will try to renew - or, as Košštunica has said, strengthen - FRY, then Montenegro will have no other option but to conduct a referendum on independence. If this becomes the only option, we will not run away from it.

Miodrag Vlahovic was guest speaker at the Bosnian Institute forum on 4 December 2000

*****

Milorad Popovic

President of the Montenegrin Association of Independent Writers

The referendum is a test of our national maturity

Europe has witnessed several waves of national emancipation, of which the last came in the 1990s when fifteen states emerged in Eastern Europe. Montenegro proved unable to participate in it, yet despite difficult conditions we have since then made good progress and the question we have to ask ourselves is whether we are now capable of becoming an independent state. Montenegro today is divided into three groups. There are those who see our future in union with Serbia, those who oscillate between confederation and independence and those who favour outright independence. The popularity of this last group is growing.

The changes in Serbia have caused much confusion in the first group, which had been used to having a strong leader to support its views. They have also had a strong effect on the ruling coalition, which seems to me to be in danger of falling apart. This should be welcome now that the danger represented by Milošševic is gone. The truth is that the present parliament does not express the view of the majority of the population. As for the referendum, it seems to me that it should be held within the next six months. Up to now we have been taken seriously by the outside world because of Milošševic. Now that he is gone we face the danger of being forgotten, just as King Nikola [of Montenegro] was forgotten at the end of World War One.

While the actual timing of the referendum should take into account the interests of the great powers, this does not mean that we should not start to prepare for it. We cannot normalise our situation in any regard until we have solved the key question of our country’’s international status. I listened carefully to what Vlahovic had to say, in particular that we should not seek independence at all costs, but I should like to point out two aspects which make it urgent. The first is demographic. There are some 400,000 Montenegrins and 8 or 9 million Serbs. We are becoming a minority in some of our maritime municipalities, in Herceg Novi already and soon also in Tivat. Ten years from now this will be true for all our coast. The second is related to the army. As long as the Serbian army is in Montenegro, it will be a threat. The question of independence is, therefore, the crucial question. We must do what we can to prepare our citizens for it, and finally place the issue on the agenda.

*****

Dr Milan Popovic

Professor of Law, University of Podgorica

A referendum as the only option

I fully agree with the view of my colleague Dr Bogicevic, expressed in a recent issue of Monitor, that FRY does not exist either in a practical or in a legal sense, and that Serbia and Montenegro are two de facto independent territories. This means that there are no practical or legal reasons for Montenegro to hold a referendum. It is enough for the parliament to issue the necessary declaration.

I nevertheless think that a referendum is necessary for political and psychological reasons. There are other reasons as well. State constructions which are based solely on negotiations between ruling parties usually do not function well. This has been shown by the example of FRY, as constituted by the ‘‘Zabljak constitution’’ of 1992. The same thing is bound to happen to any union formed on the basis of a new common declaration or platform issued by the governments in Serbia and Montenegro, unless that platform is backed by a referendum. As for Košštunica, I shall say only that he has never hidden his Great Serb views with respect to Montenegro.

The real question is how and when to organise the referendum. In my view the preparations should begin immediately, while the date for it should be fixed for when all the necessary conditions have been met. In my view, this will most probably be between three and twelve months. It is vital that the referendum be conducted democratically and in a state of absolute security for the voters. The preparations for it should begin now, without waiting for the outcome of negotiations with DOS in Serbia, in order to signal just how serious we are. Even if we were to see the emergence of a new FRY based on the agreement of the ruling parties, that agreement too should be put to a referendum, though I myself favour a simple question: ‘‘Are you or are you not in favour of a sovereign and independent Montenegro?’’ It is doubtful, in my view, that a ‘‘New Platform’’ FRY would be able to offer sufficient guarantees in regard, for example, to control of the army. We know that the 1992 constitution guaranteed Montenegro sovereignty in military decisions, but that during the last three years it did not function in practice.

Quite apart from the question of Montenegro’’s legal status, it is the case that right now we are living in a constitutional vacuum. We must, therefore, proceed to regulate this situation, not by passing a new constitution, but by adopting the relevant laws through the normal parliamentary procedure. This means that we should make all the parliamentary resolutions relating to our political status part of our basic law; that we should incorporate into our basic law also all the competencies of the former federal state that were recently abolished by Belgrade; and that we should change the legal provisions for holding a referendum. As things are now, one third of parliamentary votes can override two thirds of popular votes cast.

Our basic problems in regard to the referendum are not technical in nature. We have enough competent legal minds who can solve problems of this kind The international community is also not a problem. In 1991 it opposed not changed status for the Yugoslav entities but violent alteration of the existing borders. Serbia too is no longer a problem now that Milošševicis gone. We have, in other words, all the necessary conditions for holding a referendum. The only problem is Montenegro. We have finally got to the stage that the only problem is Montenegro itself - which, of course, has always been the main problem. Wherein does it lie? In my view the Socialist People’’s Party (SNP) is not a problem, now that Milošševichas gone. The same is true of NS, which has returned to its original Great Serb positions and does not hide the fact. The SDP and the Liberal Party are not a problem either. The problem is called DPS. This party has no longer any reason to continue with its habitual policy of hesitation.

I wish to stress that I am talking about a referendum, not independence, as the only alternative. What Montenegro needs in its present situation is procedural consistency, procedural transparency, clarity of thought and action. I insist on the importance of procedure, not of the eventual outcome. This is why I stress that the most important thing is that the referendum be conducted democratically and in conditions of total security. As a democrat I am ready to endorse whatever its outcome may be, provided that these conditions are met.

*****

Zarko Rakcevic

President of the Social-Democratic Party

We need to establish a legal state

The coalition ‘‘For a Better Life’’ was formed at a time when we had to defend Montenegro. I believe we were successful in this. We managed to distance ourselves from Belgrade’’s policy and to preserve peace at home. In the Kosovo conflict we were able to stay neutral. The road to state and national emancipation was opened. In the last two and a half years the percentage of those supporting union with Serbia, i.e. FRY, has fallen from 52 to 26%. At the same time the number of those favouring independence has grown to 38 or 39% while those supporting a confederation, i.e. a union of independent states, has grown from 10.5 to 18 or 19%. Montenegro has also established good relations with its neighbours. It has restored many of its former state prerogatives, though unfortunately not always enshrined them in law as we should have liked. Montenegro has also succeeded to some extent in internationalising the question of its state independence. We have failed, however, to put a stop to the practice of single-party monopoly. We are also lagging behind with economic and social reforms.

It is also true that the recent events in Serbia do not favour the realisation of our party’’s desire to see an independent Montenegro. The utopia of a federal state based on equality has made its comeback. The international community is euphoric, since it did not know what to do about Milošševic, how to fill that black hole in the European southeast. They now say that they are tired of conflict, that they are against further disintegration, and that in any case UN Security Council resolution 1244 insists on the integrity of the FRY mirage. They are trying to solve the Kosovo problem at Montenegro’’s expense. We are being pushed into a union of three entities, which has no future.

The main problem, however, is that Montenegro still lacks a strategy; that it has never stated clearly what it wanted. The international community, on the other hand, has moved at surprising speed to invest the phantom FRY with all the trappings of international legitimacy. Mr Hombach has clearly stated that Montenegro will lose its current role in the Stability Pact. It will also lose its existing access to the United Nations, since an urgent entry of FRY into the UN will be sought. I need not speak of the lost hopes of joining international financial and economic bodies. It is obvious that with the international legitimation of the phantom FRY, it will be much harder for Montenegro to gain its own international recognition.

The international community, i.e. the great powers, are showing increasing determination to proclaim Montenegro a destabilizing factor, since we do not fit the Lego construction of a three-member union - which, we know, has no perspective. A high-ranking American official stated in a recent conversation with the SDP (in which he described us as a destabilising factor) that even if we were to succeed in proclaiming independence, the current American administration would treat this as a unilateral act of secession. Montenegro has until recently been praised as a factor of regional stability. It was treated as a kind of base for the destabilisation of Serbia, part of the great web of measures designed to bring about Milošševic’’s downfall. Today, however, it is treated as a destabilising factor, since it does not fit the international community’’s strategic aims for this area. In my view, however, and despite the obvious pressures, I would advocate that the will of the population of Montenegro be tested, since I cannot see in the name of what democratic principle the international community would be able to deny a small country like Montenegro its right to self-determination.

My position is informed also by the belief that we shall soon be faced with a consolidation of the Great Serb idea. I cannot see how the forces that have stormed the parliament, using the same symbols and singing the same songs with which they once saluted the killing machine on its way to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, can overnight be transformed into a European-type democratic force willing to establish equitable relations with our country. It will be difficult to negotiate with these unreconstructed Great Serb forces which dominate an otherwise heterogeneous DOS coalition. Serbia will be presented as a regional power and economically aided, at least initially. This aid, however, will not be able to meet its needs. But it will be sufficient to bribe our sentimental federalists, by increasing wages from DM 50 or 60 to DM 150. The Great Serb idea will hide behind the notion of a government of experts, in which as Djindjic has stated the dominant ministries will be those of defence, monetary policy and foreign affairs. There will be other bribes: an end to the blockade at Prijepolje, the dismissal of Mihajlo Kertes, the dissolution of the Seventh Battalion, some changes in the military command, the establishment of a common information network, etc. Nothing essential will change in the relationship between Serbia and Montenegro, but enough will be done to persuade some of our citizens that the utopia of an equal federation of Serbia and Montenegro is after all possible.

Košštunica is a product of the same institutions that gave birth to Milošševic. They are now regrouping at great speed also in Montenegro. There will no longer be a difference between the RTS that advocated Milošševic’’s line and so-called ‘‘alternative’’ media inspired by a sophisticated but basically Great Serb opposition line. The leadership of the People’’s Party has already indicated that they are returning to the programme presented in their 1993 joint declaration with the Serbian Democratic Party - a programme which is undoubtedly Great Serb in inspiration. This new position of the NS makes it difficult to maintain the existing coalition. At the same time the DPS has proved unable to formulate a national strategy, and we do not know whether it favours federation or confederation. The contradictory statements issued by its leading members are only confusing the public. To wait for Serbia to accept the Montenegrin Platform for a renewal of FRY is utopian, given that we do not know what is it that we want. Unless we define our own strategy we shall become a part of a consolidated Greater Serbia.

This is why I would support a referendum or at least new elections. It is most important that all those who are aware of the perils of our situation unite and formulate their own strategy for Montenegro. I advocate the broadest possible coalition of all Montenegrin parties, institutions and citizens who believe that the solution lies either in an independent Montenegro, or in a federation of two fully independent states of Serbia and Montenegro.

Branko Lukovac

Montenegro’’s Foreign Minister

Independence as a condition of future integrations

A great and long-awaited historical change has occurred in Serbia. The dissolution of the empire has only begun, but it can be expected that the process will continue, perhaps at a more intensive pace, and that one of its outcomes will be the final dissolution of Yugoslavia.

In the given circumstances it is obvious that the link between Serbia and Montenegro will also have to be dissolved. This would permit us to enter into processes of integration with the feeling that we all share an equal starting position. I do not wish to say whether a referendum or independence is a priority, but I do believe that Montenegro can enter the process of cooperation only on an independent basis. However, we should not reduce the challenges confronting Montenegro to our relations with Serbia. Sooner or later we will find that no one will question Montenegro’’s independence; but this will not of itself solve such key issues as our place in Europe and the satisfaction of our society’’s needs.

As for our relationship with the international community, we find ourselves in a situation that is not necessarily to our liking. The international community saw in us one of the factors that would permit it to remove the main problem in the region. Now that problem is gone, things are gradually returning to their usual place. The international community feels the need to support and reward the democratic forces in Serbia, and to seek by way of President Košštunica in particular to strengthen the federal state, in order finally to remove the source of crisis in the region. This would create stability in the Balkans and, by way of the Stability Pact, encourage the integration of Eastern Europe into wider European processes. The reduction of Montenegro to its proper place in its relationship with Serbia is thus inevitable, just as it is inevitable that our demand for independence would not be received sympathetically by the international community. The decision, however, rests with us. The international community will accept the will of Montenegrin citizens, provided that it is a majority decision and that it does not bring them new problems. The fact that they view our demand for independence as introducing a new problem in the region is understandable in view of the past decade.

I agree that the demand for independence would not cause a new conflict. Conditions are being created in which such a decision could be taken in the realisation that it would be accepted both by the minority and by other players in the region. This is true regardless of the international community’’s current insistence on the preservation and strengthening of FRY. I also agree that we should proceed to define a national project favouring the democratic transformation of our society, cooperation with our neighbours and the international community, and processes of integration leading to a final solution of our country’’s international status.

Srdjan Darmanovic

Director of CEDEM

DPS faces a difficult choice

The changes in Serbia have removed the security threat weighing upon Montenegro. This stick will not be used regardless of the political views of the winning coalition in Serbia, given that it is keen to present itself as a democratic force. Montenegro has enjoyed a privileged position in the international community largely because, especially after Kosovo, the latter was not willing to tolerate a new conflict in the region. Since the changes in Serbia, however, a new political battle has begun on how to define Montenegro’’s position in the new regional order.

It is clear that Montenegro must explain to itself and to others what it is that it wants, We should not succumb to panic and the feeling that we have to decide once and forever; but there is no doubt that we find ourselves once again at a historic crossroads. Notwithstanding the broader problems of economic and democratic reform, the question of Montenegro’’s political status remains the dominant political issue. As has already been said, public opinion is split three ways. According to recent polls, the number of those in favour of unconditional independence remains stable at around 36%. Around 30% are opposed to it, while some 20% support the government’’s Platform for a re-definition of the Serbian-Montenegrin tie. Given this, we can say that those favouring a federation are on the losing side, since the majority of the population does not wish to see a return to the federation as constituted in 1992, let alone as amended in July 2000. Even if Serbia or the international community were to favour this option, it is no longer acceptable to Montenegro.

This leaves us with the other two options: the one represented by the Platform, which envisages a loose confederation, and the other which seeks full independence. Either of these could in principle gain majority support. It is another issue whether they could equally easily be implemented, given that none of the great powers supports Montenegro’’s independence. I share the view of our foreign minister, however, that if the citizens of Montenegro were to decide in favour of independence in a peaceful and democratic manner, then others would have to accept it. On the other hand, it is equally true that it makes all the difference whether this is done with the support or against the will of our powerful allies.

I must admit that I do not understand their position, now that the threat of military intervention is no longer operative. It is difficult to understand why they are against our independence, unless one takes into account that at this moment they have no solution for Kosovo, other than the existing military one. This is why they wish to see the retention of a structure which could incorporate Kosovo. This argument may make some sense in the regional context, but it does not help us in Montenegro. Apart from Kosovo, I cannot see any other reason. It is difficult to see why a small country could create great problems by declaring its independence. Montenegro does not have a diaspora which could give rise to irredentism. It is true that a large number of Montenegrins live in Serbia, but Montenegro is hardly in a position to annex part of Serbia. Montenegro also has no border problems, since the problem of Prevlaka has been solved in practice even before being formally closed. Montenegro’’s independence, in other words, cannot threaten any of its neighbours.

There are, however, the internal aspects of this question, which in the last instance will prove decisive. The fact is that there is no consensus on this issue among the main political parties. This is true especially, of course, for the ruling coalition and the DPS. While its two partners have more or less made their views clear, the DPS is faced with the problem of whether it should stick to the Platform or opt for independence. This problem will arise sooner or later, either in the form of a referendum or in the form of new elections. If the crisis in the coalition does bring about new elections, each party will have to state what kind of status it wishes for Montenegro. Sooner or later the DPS will have to make up its mind.

It is difficult to say which way it will jump. Considering its political history, one can say that ever since its inception in 1990 it has tried to present itself as the party of the centre, including in matters related to Montenegro’’s status. In 1991-2 the centre ground was the federal option: i.e. neither the extinction of Montenegrin statehood nor state independence. The centre has since shifted to some point between a loose federation and independence. It is possible, therefore, that a loose confederation would be acceptable to the majority of our citizens. This may be the position which the DPS will adopt, particularly since - judging by our public-opinion polls - its own members and supporters are almost equally divided between support for independence and support for the Platform, i.e. a confederation. It is possible that the recent constitutional changes and federal elections have radicalised also the DPS base in favour of independence. Either way, it will be a difficult decision for the DPS to make.

If it opts for a compromise, in effect, with the international community and the domestic minority, then conducts a referendum on that basis, it will be in the absurd position of being forced to seek support from SNP voters in order to secure some kind of loose union, since they would have no other choice. In that situation Montenegro could end up with more powers than it has ever had, yet the issue of its status would doubtless remain unresolved and a potential source of conflict. One could thus say to the international community that Montenegro’’s non-independence could also cause problems, in that sooner or later a clear pro-independence bloc is likely to emerge, which could win a majority in future elections. This is why for both internal players and the international community it might be best to proceed to a referendum in which these options could be tested. Relations between Montenegro and Serbia would certainly be placed on a much more healthy basis, if the resolution of this question came as the result of a popular vote.

Miodrag Vukovic

President of the DPS Executive Committee

Adviser to the President of Montenegro

Montenegro is a partner, not a problem

In the new situation created by the changes in Serbia, we have two ambitions. One is to develop democracy, preserve our state and cooperate with the international community. The other is to sort out our relations with Serbia, given that FRY is in a deep crisis - i.e. it no longer exists. We must recall that Montenegro has on five occasions offered Serbia an arrangement based on equality, and each time we were rebuffed. We are bound to draw lessons from this. It is important now, however, to prevent conflicts at home. We have two problems. One is how to cooperate in future with Serbia; the other is how to relate to our domestic political minority, which as we know recently visited Belgrade without informing us of the fact in advance. We must prevent an open conflict with them and those who sit today in the FRY assembly. Apart from this, it is most important for us to understand what will happen next in Serbia. The transformation has just begun, and there is concern that Serbia may be sliding into chaos, i.e. entering a stage of organised anarchy that will nevertheless be difficult to control. While waiting for the authority of its institutions to be restored, we can try to educate those Montenegrins who are participating in the internal Serb conflict, since this can boomerang against us in that the conflict could be transferred to Montenegro.

We should, therefore, be patient for another month or two, but also be prepared to act quickly and decisively. We are faced with only two options. The first is an alliance with a democratic Serbia: not, however, on the basis of the Platform we adopted last year, but on the basis of a new, reworked platform. Since we are now talking not to a Serbia run by dictatorship, but to a democratic Serbia, we shall offer it a union of two sovereign states, either internationally recognised in advance or at least whose prerogatives are clearly and rationally defined. If we fail, we shall seek independence. I do not know whether this will entail a referendum or whether it would take another legal form. I have reservations in regard to both solutions. The danger is that if the citizens are asked by way of a referendum whether they favour an independent Montenegro and they say yes, we shall be accused of destroying the chance of a union with Serbia. Our citizens would be taking upon themselves the responsibility for destroying FRY. This could encourage the retrograde forces in Montenegro to say that they had always been right, and that the government had sacrificed a decent project. Whether a parliamentary declaration or a constitutional law would be more acceptable remains to be seen. I can assure you, however, that every possible solution will be considered and formulated in a formally appropriate manner.

Regarding the international community, we cannot deny that there is a danger of entering into conflict with them if we move quickly towards independence. As a professional politician I agree that it is possible that in the coming days we may see changes at the level of the government; but the best solution in my view is to maintain the stability of the system, i.e. the coalition, since it would be much more difficult to operate in conditions of parliamentary crisis and proximity of early elections. This is why I would advise against the hasty steps which even some of my own colleagues deem necessary.

 

contents
contents

   Table of contents

  Latest issue

  Archive

  Search

  Support the Institute

  Subscriptions

 
home | about us | publications | events | news | Library | contact | bosnia | search | bosnia report | credits