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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

    TUE, 12 APR 1994 08:49:50 GMT

    Montenegrin Borders



    Montenegro is at the border again, but fortunately the Montenegrins are not. How they scored two years ago, when in the first instance because of Prevlaka, and in the second, because of Neretva, they set off to a fierce battle, there is no need to call to mind. It is difficult to believe that we are about to see a replay of the "Dubrovnik Odyssey", not only because of the distressing previous experience, but also due to the very circumstances which are not nearly as dramatic as those at the end of 1991. War has become too expensive, the warriors have become smarter, international mediators more serious, so that, although the borders have still not been clearly defined, it is to be expected that at least in these surroundings, the finalizing of the map drawings will not be accompanied by war trumpets.

    This time, Montenegro's "border" problem is not only is the preservation of its existing territory, but also in the possibility of its expansion - while eyes are preferably " kept closed" as far as Prevlaka is concerned, eyes are "openly cast" on Herzegovina. The current idea that Herzegovina belongs to Montenegro is not Bulatovic's invention - at one time, Dr. Branko Kostic, the legendary Vice-President of the SFRY Presidency, who in an TV interview assesses such an option, "in case Yugoslavia disintegrates" as "quite possible" had nothing against it. As far as the fear that by expanding Montenegro's territory to Herzegovina, Montenegrins would become a national minority, as poointed out if I remember correctly by one of the local parties, I think that is absurd", the popular "Branko Kockica" said sometime at the beginning of 1992.

    However, before both of them, Kostic and Bulatovic, the "conquering" of Herzegovina was promoted by a local, marginal political party, the Christian-Democratic- Orthodox Party, which moved the border of Montenegro to the Neretva River, including in it not only Mostar, but Dubrovnik as well! "The annexed territory would become part of Montenegro only in the polical and legal capacity of the autonomous region of the Montenegrin Krajina, while the parent country would remain Montenegro, including Cape Ostra (Prevlaka). Thereby Montenegro would secure its prosperous development by incorporating another 100 thousand inhabitants and a territory greater than 20 thousand square meters", the Montenegrin Christian Democrats calculated in mid 1991.

    Bulatovic manifested a weakness towards this, western border much before the recently held Congress of the DPS, actually, as early as the time of holding a celebration of the 115-th anniversary of the Vucedol Battle, when he noted that "even today some would like to draw borders where they never existed and where they can never exist", alluding precisely to the Montenegrin-Herzegovinian "boundary". On the same occasion, the then still unrecognized Karadzic was fully in agreement with the Montenegrin president, pointing out "that while there is Montenegro, no one can take Herzegovina away from Yugoslavia." The National Party had similar ideas at the time, considering the border with Herzegovina as an " artificial and imposed one." " The boundary between Herzegovina and Montenegro was drawn by Franz Josef, and later only thickened by Josip Broz", Kilibarda the leader of the National Party commented in his specific style.

    Today, however (with the exception of the Montengrin bloc which has been and still is against the unification), it seems to appear that only Bulatovic persevered in a principled manner, which is not characteristic of him, in his previous stands. He would still like to gain Herzegovina, of course "only if the Herzegovinians wish to live with us, and if we here in Montenegro confirm in a democratic procedure that such a wish exists on our side too." "The first" among the un(equal) inhabitants of Herzegovina,Bozidar Vucurevic, was far from overwhelmed with Bulatovic's offer. "Herzegovinians will not consent to unite with anyone and sacrifice in the process their young national state by bringing it into the civilian grave of the Serbian people", Vucurevic was more than clear. In his interview to "Borba" he was quite ambiguous, stating that "some things have to change in Montenegro in order for that to be accepted", and that the idea regarding the annexation of Herzegovina to Montenegro "is not only Bulatovic's brainchild but Radovan Karadzic's too"!

    "I spoke much earlier about this issue with a very influential man", boasted Vucurevic. Who is the Trebinje trucker's "third man" is not hard to unriddle, but it is rather difficult to believe that Bulatovic's attack on Herzegovina too - is Milosevic's doing.

    The more so, as ten or so days after "Momir's bomb", exploded,the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, Miodrag Lekic, stated in an interview to "Borba", first, that he was not familiar with "such a concept" ( the annexation of Herzegovina to Montenegro), and then that " a defined concept of that kind did not exist"! It seems now that the Social Democrats were right when they coldbloodedly noted that nothing extraordinary happened at the Congress of the ruling party - on the contrary, the playing on all cards, with expressed preferencess towards the winning one, no manner be it "the ace of diamonds" or " a club", has only been continued. This is likewise not concealed by the newly elected Vice-President of the DPS, Svetozar Marovic, who told the author of this text in an interview to VIN, that his party will accept both reintegrated Yugoslavia and "the All-Serbian Union", replying to the question of how principled that was, considering that two opposed concepts are at stake, a civil one and an ethnic one, said : "We are as principled as circumstances allow."

    The same ones who interpreted Bulatovic's onetime launching of the idea on the reintegration of the Yugoslav space ( in Paris during his visit to Mitterand) as a maneuver to save Montenegro from the "Union of Serbian States", now explain his "attack" on Herzegovina as an attempt to defend himself from the pressures exerted from Herzegovina, especially in relation to Prevlaka! Aware that Karadzic will not easily give up Herzegovina, as well as of the fact that the international community will have no understanding for such an option, Bulatovic is skillfully preparing the public opinion, so that he can, when Karadzic asks for Prevlaka, Igalo and Herceg Novi, say: NYET, just as coldbloodedly. It is a known fact that the Pale leadership has already reserved Prevlada as a possible outlet to the sea. The President of the Assembly of the Republic of Srpska, Momcilo Krajisnik, claimed at one time "that it was not important whose Prevlaka would be, since we are one people, and that Montenegro can only be pleased that we shall gain an outlet to the sea." President Bulatovic's remark at that time that the "problem of Prevlaka would be resolved between the Republic of Srpska and Croatia" only reinforced his view, although on that occassion too, the " elusive man with a moustache" added that after that Karadzic would give over Prevlaka to Montenegro, namely, Yugoslavia."

    The opposition press in Montenegro, saw in this another act of "treason" on the part of the current leadership in Podgorica, and wrote of Bulatovi's departure for Trebinje, where he had allegedly given over to Vucurevic both Prevlaka and Igalo as well as the entire belt up to Herceg Novi!? Vucurevic himself pacified them not long after that, when he told the magazine "Svet" from Novi Sad "that they would not divide anything with the Montenegrins, not even Prevlaka." "We shall see whether Montenegro has any pretentions regarding Prevlaka, however if we do make some sort of exchange, we want no joint property with the Montenegrins, neither at Prevlaka nor in some other part west of Prevlaka, Vucurevic was specific.

    Although Bulatovic explained after the already mentioned meeting in Geneva how everyone would get their share in the area from Prevlaka to Molunat, meaning, Montenegro and the Republic of Srpska, Herceg-Bosnia and Bosnia, and although "Politika" wrote at that time that an agreement has been reached according to which the Republic of Srpska would get "twenty or so kilometers of Croatian coast along the border with Montenegro", it is more than evident that at the end someone will have to be left with short sleaves. Croatia, particularly after the most recent reconciliation with the Muslims, will certainly not easily give up part of its coast, a fact confirmed by information from police and military sources, namely, according to that information the border with Montenegro was intensively being fortified, and Croatia, as the Montenegrin Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic said in a statement given to TV "Politika", was behaving like a "regulated country". On that occasion he added that "the FRY and Montenegro should undertake similar measures" and that "in cooperation with the Army of Yugoslavia steps have already been undertaken for the regulation of the border zone." In spite of these, not very popular measures manifested in the fixing of boundaries with the help of mine fields, almost no possibility exists of a new escalation of Montenegrin-Coatian conflicts in the manner of three years ago.

    After all, Zvonimir Markovic, the head of the Croatian Bureau in Belgrade, in an interview to "Pobjeda" said: "we have no problems with Montenegro now", and as far as Prevlaka wass concerned, he added, "let us leave it aside since neither will you become richer nor will we become poorer - either with it or without it." When things are postured in such a way, "all other things are solved", Markovic concluded. It is difficult to believe that the Montenegrin leadership has not fully understood the messages of the head of the Croatian bureau, and the fact that Minister Lekic responded immediately to his offer of opening a consulate in Montenegro in the style "why not" only goes to confirm that. Even in the statement released after the meeting of the head of the police in Herzegovina, Radunovic and the Navy Commander of the Army of Yugoslavia, Isakovic, with the representative of the European Mission in Yugoslavia where it is pointed out that Croatia has been violating the blue zone by constructing fortification works, it is also mentioned that the "security of the border is at a satisfactory level" and "the relations between the two police forces correct."

    Evidently, this way or that, it seems that the Bosnian Serbs are superflous in the whole story. It appears that they no longer have any influence on the fate of Prevlaka, so the Montenegrins prefer dealing directly with the Croatians. To Montenegro, Herzegovina means almost nothing at all, which could not be said of Prevlaka (the "gate to Boka"), and for that reason they will not complain if they get Prevlaka instead of Herzegovina. "The crafty Latins" on the other hand are dispatching signals to Podgorica, which can be interpreted to mean that, in spite of the fresh Dubrovnik wounds, they would rather share this border with the Montenegrins than with the Herzegovinians. What will happen in the end,remains to bee seen, since many issues remain unresolved, such as for instance, what Vucurevic's "influential man" thinks of the whole afffair?

    Zeljo Ivanovic

    AIM Podgorica


    Historical Overview


    Throughout its history, which has often been described as illustrious, the Montenegrins have more or less rounded off their territory, so that even the communist map makers were left with nothing else but to aknowledge the existing ones when they began to draw their own boundaries. Nevertheless, in spite of that, views have been voiced in recent years that some of the Montenegrin borders are likewise "Comintern" ones, namely fixed by the communists,above all, the border with Herzegovina.

    - The first official fixing of boundaries between Montenegro and Herzegovina date from the period of Peter II, who met on two occasions, in Grahovo in 1838 and in Dubrovnik in 1842, with Ali-Pasha Rizvanbegovic, after which an agreement was signed between the "independent region of Montenegro and Herzegovina under the jurisdiction of the pasha" establishing the following border:from Dragalj (Krivosija) to Grahovo-along the the Duga pass, north of Niksic - the Lukavica , Stitovo and Maganik mountains up to beyond the Moraca monastery - the historian,Cedomir Pejovic, points out and adds - After the victory at Grahovo on May 13, 1858 a Conference of the ambassadors of the big powers was held in Constantinople at which the new expanded territory of Montenegro was established, which included Grahovo, Rudine, part of Drobnjak, the Niksic disctrict and part of Vasojevic. At that time border stones in the form of cones were set, while on unapproachable locations the border was marked with white crosses. That border, determined at the Constantinople Conference was later only to be verified at the Berlin Congress when Montenegro was internationally and legally recognized.

    Although in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, part of Bosnia, part of Herzegovina and Dubrovnik belonged were included in the Zeta district, when the Communists began to draw maps, they proceeded from the border set at the Berlin Congress. Rumour has it, however, that Djuro Pucar Stari asked Blazo Jovanovic to give him Herceg Novi as an outlet to the sea for Bosnia-Herzegovina!?

    - Although I was on duty in Sandzak at the time, I remember that Blazo and Andro (Mugosa) asked me on one occasion what I though of Pucar's proposal regarding the giving over of Herceg Novi in exchange for the territory around Sutjeska. I told them that it was absurd, since Boka was an indivisible whole, historically, spiritually, politically, and in any other way - Komnen Cerovic, a national hero, recalls.

    Therefore Boka has remained "in its integrity" as a component part of Montenegro, or as Krleza said on one occasion as the "logical continuation of its logical hinterland." Z.I.