bosnia report
New Series No: 27-28 January - May 2002
Agreement for a referendum
by Paul Williams

However the Belgrade Agreement was reached, those who want reforms and independence have no choice except to stick together. They can vote against the Agreement in parliament, but they must maintain a pro-independence coalition government. If the coalition falls, that will mean giving up on independence and reform. The Agreement could be interpreted as a victory of the reform-minded and pro-independence forces It signalled the end of ‘Yugoslavia’, it guarantees a referendum in three years’ time. And it provides Montenegro with immense possibilities for winning independence.

Furthermore, even in Serbia the Agreement is being interpreted as a victory of Montenegro, which has not won independence but has in practice kept everything it had wrested from the federal state. And Serbia got nothing, apart from a bad status quo. Of course, in the whole business it is the Europeans, or rather Solana, who have been the real victors.

My recommendation would be for the citizens to decide by referendum on the Agreement. That is in accordance with clause two of the Constitution of Montenegro, which stipulates that any alteration in the status of the state must be ratified by a referendum. The Agreement does de facto change the status of the state. It would be interesting to see how the EU would behave in the event of such a referendum being organized. I think the Europeans would stop talking about qualified majorities, and would respect the rule of 50% + 1. And after three years, when a referendum on independence was organized, they would not be able to change the rules. Nobody will mention qualified majorities any more.

Dr Paul Williams, professor of international law at the American University in Washington, advised the Bosnian delegation at the Dayton peace talks, the Kosova delegation at Rambouillet, and more recently has advised the governments of Montenegro (in relation to its constitutional status) and Serbia (on its relations with the Hague tribunal). He has been a Consultant to The Bosnian Institute since its foundation


   Table of contents

  Latest issue



  Support the Institute


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