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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    THU, 06 JAN 1994 12:38:20 GMT

    The men who make news: Milo Djukanovicc, the Prime Minister of Montenegro

    THE PRIME MINISTER UNDER SURVEILLANCE

    Summary: Is there any truth in the stories that Prime Minister Djukanovicc is the "chief smuggler" in Montenegro. Ever since he was a student, he enjoys the reputation that he has inclination towards financial embezzlements. The opposition press was full of stories about his transferring capital abroad, but without any firm evidence. Djukanovicc responds to all accusations that they are pure fabrications of the opposition and its press. Is there a conflict between Djukanovicc and Bulatovicc concerning the "Serbian issue", or are these mere ideological differences.

    Text:

    When at the age of 28 and without a day of professional experience, Djukanovic became the Prime Minister of Montenegrin Government, many were convinced that he would not find his way round at such a responsible post and that he was a "scapegoat". The time has, at least until now, denied all these predictions, showing that the Prime Minister-trainee is maturing quickly, and that the ruling party has found in him a peson who is fishing skillfully in troubled waters of the "transitional period". The very fact that he is fishing in troubled waters, convinced those who have political and moral reservations about the current authorities in Montenegro, that Djukanovicc is either a "money lender" under cover, or a criminal who has turned Montenegro into a smugglers' paradise and collects dividends for it. The leader of Serbian Radicals, Vojislav Ssesselj, was neither the first nor probably the last who, while speaking at the last session of the Federal Assembly, accused the Montenegrin Prime Minister of dubious business deals.

    Contrary to the President of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovicc, who was hardly ever accused of dubious transactions, the Prime Minister is constantly followed by rumours that he has an inclination towards them, ever since he was a student. This stereotype created by rumours, the accusations of the opposition and the media which do not favour the authorities, marked Djukanovicc as a man who uses his power for acquiring profit. He was "seen" on several occasions carrying the robbed money to Cyprus, Vienna or London, where he put it away into the cellar of a house or an appartment he had bought, and not seldom his Italian connection with the "cosa Nostra" is mentioned, in collaboration with which he is smuggling cigarettes, and even drugs, as once Budo Perovicc, the leader of the Montenegrin Party said. It is difficult to dissuade those who are suspicious that the Prime Minister and those who are close to him, did not draw any personal benefits from deals such as the one with Jezdimir Vasiljevicc about the lease of Sveti Stefan or the profitable oil trade. All those suspicious found it easy to understand why Djukanovicc got ill after it was announced that Jezdimir Vasiljevicc had fled from the country, who even threatened the Montenegrin Prime Minister from abroad that he would liquidate him. Occasionally, when he felt like it or had to, Djukanovicc rejected the accusations, assessing them as "fabrications of the opposition parties and their press". Refuting the suspicions that Montenegrin authorities stand behind smuggling transactions and that the money made in this way is used for financing public expenditures in Montenegro, Djukanovicc usually claimed that these transactions are legal "transition deals carried out through Yugoslavia", which are, naturally, profitable for Yugoslavia. "I am not engaged in smuggling, or in any private business", he decisively declated once, wishing once more to respond to all rumours once and and for all.

    Many tend to link the accusations against Djukanovicc to the fact that he had on several occasions made hardline statement on several occasions concerning the position of Montenegro in new Yugoslavia. It was especially obvious in the case of "Serbian dirty business" with the blockade of the border near Prijepolje. He used to stress more resolutely than President Bulatovicc, that this meant political pressure on Montenegro, and he was somewhat rehabiltated in the eyes of the pro-Montenegrin opposition for it. Only two other men from the authorities of Montenegro were more critical about Belgrade - the Minister of Foreign Affairs Miodrag Lekicc, and the Preseident of the Chamber of Commerce, Vojin Djukanovicc.

    Noting the difference between what the President of Montenegro says and what is presented to the public by the Prime Minister, an opinion was created in the public especially among the opposition that there are two distinctly differentiated trends in Montenegrin state supreme authorities and the Democratic Party of Socialists. According to these interpretations, one is pro-Montenegrin and the other pro-Serbian. The first is gathered around Djukanovicc and the latter around Bulatovicc. Creation of such an opinion is largely influenced by the fact that the pro-Montenegrin opposition parties (the Social Democratic Party-SDP and the Liberal League), are lately, instead of attacking frontally the authorities in general, shooting arrows selectively at the fraction which is in favour of uncritical following of Belgrade, i.e. the regime in Serbia. The fact that Djukanovicc had more understanding for the demands of Social Democrats formulated as conditions for their remaining in the government than some of his party colleagues, also contributes to the opinion about the split among the authorities. Among these demands were, first, that Montenegro must maintain the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, second, that a Montenegrin Information Agency should be formed.

    The fact that President Bulatovicc has announced the possibility of dissolving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that Djukanovicc did not show any signs of actually fulfilling the demands of the SDP, the independent opposition weekly, the "Monitor" interprets as pushing back the Djukanovicc's fraction within the ruling party. The announcement that one of the pro-Montenegrin, or "green" Ministers (Milivoje Jaukovicc, the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare) will be sent to Belgrade, and that there are pressures coming from the federal capital for the head of Montenegrin diplomacy, Miodrag Lekicc, to "go away" and take the post of the Ambassador in Rome, is also linked to the latest expressions of devotion to Slobodan Milossevicc and his party made by the DPS. An assessment that this could all mean "purification" of the party before the Congress of the ruling party planned for the beginning of this year goes also along these lines. It is assumed that Bulatovicc's Socialists will be forced to initiate a discussion on certain delicate issues in the policy and the future of Montenegro.

    There is also a completely contrary conviction that the division into the pro-Montenegrin and the pro-Serbian part of the leadership of the ruling party in Montenegro is just an illusion easy for manipulations. In fact it is a different kind of conflict - between a pro-liberal option which is in favour of a quick privatization and overall transformation of the society according to a liberal model, and those who still cannot get over the loss of socialism and some of its "brilliant achievements". The latter do not mind so much the liberal doctrine itself, but the fact that its protagonists are not forgetting their own interest. In an environment of poverty and misery of the largest portion of the population, this is definitely out of line and causing great damage to the ruling party.

    Dragoljub VUKOVICC AIM Podgorica