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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

    WED, 19 APR 1995 18:50:13 GMT

    Montenegro

    PRIVATIZATION - CONDITION OF POWER

    Sources which are believed to be "well informed" believe that Djukanovic's criticism of the Federal authorities in his last week's interview to "Pobjeda" conceals determination to persevere on his own conception of privatization, because it enables him to keep the economic foundation of his political power. Criticism of external policy is just "side support" to the main demand.

    text:

    The interview of the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, given to "Pobjeda" on Monday, April 10, is certainly the event that provoked the largest number of comments in the Republic in the past few days. The Prime Minister's statements are, according to ones - strategic determinants of the policy of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), according to others - a glove courageously thrust in the face of the Federal Administration (read: Milosevic), and according to yet others - another weakly attempt, condemned to fail, to preserve at least some of the competences for Podgorica... The most numerous are still those who believe that at the foundation of Djukanovic's unusually sharp criticism of Belgrade is the intention to provide sufficient time for completion of property and management transformation in Montenegro - going by the Montenegrin recipe. The Prime Minister's conception of "accelerated privatization" can in no way find the sluggish Serb model fitting, with its "state, social and other forms of property". Two third of enterprises with more than 70 per cent of the total number of employed persons in Montenegro have already been affected by the process. There is an almost general agreement about the necessity of privatization, regardless of the criticism of the model of its implementation. "This year will be successful only if it is truly used as the year of privatization... We shall certainly oppose uncompromisingly all solutions in the text of the Law (on enterprises) that might cause interruption or slowing down of the transformation pace the economy of Monenegro is proceeding at", Djukanovic said in the interview to "Pobjeda".

    Many, however, recognize a tendency to preserve the economic foundations of the political power behind his insisting that the federal state ought to just lay the foundations of the process of property and management transformation. Management boards of newly established holding companies are, namely, chaired by the same persons close to the Prime Minister. Rumour goes around Podgorica that the "Jugobanka case" has marked the beginning of a war against Djukanovic's confidence men who are at leading posts in the economy and the banking system, intended to disqualify him politically. Some people claim that the action is very well coordinated, with a significant part played at the Assembly of Montenegro where an attempt was made to impose on Djukanovic the image of the "greatest criminal in the Balkans". That weakly defence of the Prime Minister put up in the Parliament by his party colleagues was not just a part of their tactics is verified by Djukanovic's assessment that "deputies of the DPS in the Republican Assembly should have been much more agile in the protection of interests of the party and the authorities". There is no doubt that the Prime Minister of Montenegro primarily has in mind tolerance to accusations on his account.

    Speaking in favour of privatization, market orientation and, in general, more respect of economic logic as opposed to national romanticist throwing out one's breast in front of the "unjust" world could best be explained to be the result of Djukanovic's realistic assessment of the state Montenegrin economy is in. He has not even tried to conceal that "in an isolated environment such as this longterm positive results" cannot be expected, and "it would be hard for me personally to survive again at the post I am at everything that was happening in the course of 1993". Nevertheless, sources which are ususally denoted "well informed" tend to see the outcome of the struggle for speedy privatization in preservation of the key level of political power. Because, just in the past few months, Montenegrin authorities have been deprived of the right to be the masters of their own space, including collection of taxes for weekend houses, Montenegrin fleet is about to be sold off, the federal Government has not paid back 55 million dinars debt for '95 pensions to Montenegro... and so on and so forth.

    Specific names of enterprises and persons who are awaiting the destiny of "Jugobanka" and its Director, Rade Kalezic, are already circling. This is how, allegedly, the circle around the Prime Minister who is disobedient to Belgrade is narrowing and ground prepared for his political removal. The observed Djukanovic's "failure" to congratulate the Day of Statehood to Serbia, like Bulatovic and Kontic did, is used as a cue to such interpretations. Rumours about the Prime Minister's conflict with Milosevic have been going on for a long time now. Djukanovic's relation with the Serb leadership does appear quite cold in comparison to that of Bulatovic or Marovic. But, since it is exceptionally hard to get hold of facts about the internal relations among the political leades, comments are becoming pointedly free. As an example of such "excessive freedom" an assessment is mentioned in Podgorica (carried by the correspondent of "Free Europe" from Belgrade) that the topical interview was ordered by Milosevic himself in order to get even with (his own) Federal diplomacy! This vision is considered to be almost fantastic here. Noone sees such a powerful person in the federal Ministry of Foreign Afaairs that Milosevic would need help to get rid of.

    Discontent of Montenegrin authorities with the work of the Foreign Ministry is, it seems, objectively founded. On two grounds: "because of the way stances of Montenegro in formation of Yugoslav foreign policy are treated", and "because of inadequate representation of Montenegrins in diplomacy". Djukanovic also believes that the FRY has experienced total fiasco in foreign policy, and that a radical personnel overhaul is necessary in the Ministry, and that there should by no means be less Montenegrins in this Ministry than there used to be (in per cents) in the diplomacy of the SFRY. The Prime Minister obviously cannot put up with the derisive comments on account of his and Bulatovic's marginal role in the negotiating process for the resolution of the crisis in ex-Yugoslavia, and on account of the main and non-constitutional role of the President of Serbia. Sharp criticism of federal diplomacy is caused by these frustrations too, but it is nevertheless just a "side support" for the essential demand for speedy privatization.

    The same refers to Djukanovic's stings addressed at the Federal Government because of its solutions in the sphere of pension and disability insurance. The Montenegrin Prime Minister has no understanding for the approach which calls for regulations of the system on the federal level, and provision of funds by the republics: "I think that the one who takes care of collection of funds, who is therefore the only one responsible to the retired persons for regular payment, must also be the one to regulate the system".

    The assessment induced by the last week's interview of the relations among the three key personalities in the current Montengrin policy are also very interesting: Djukanovic, Bulatovic and Marovic. While some believe that Bulatovic is, together with Milosevic, leading the action against Djukanovic, and that Marovic is sitting on the fence but sympathizing with the President of the Republic, the others (and one should say those who are closest to the truth) compare them to a three-legged stool which is aware that should one leg be removed, the other two will also fall. But, although there are a lot of indications that although the Prime Minister and the President are competing for predominance in important spheres (internal affairs, for instance), they are acting in unison "towards the outside" and towards the opposition.

    The latest foundations for rumours about discordance between the two Montenegrin leaders is linked to their relation to the Yugoslav Associated Leftists (JUL). In his interview to "Pobjeda" Djukanovic showed that he does not think too highly about this organization, having said that "leftist conservatism is in no way less dangerous than the rightist for a modern organization of a society". He even defined the DPS as a "civic party of the centre slightly inclining towards the left". The very next day, Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic, Vice-President of the Party and according to the opinion of the majority, closer to Bulatovic, characterized the DPS in a conversation with a foreign delegation as an explicitly leftist party. Malicious persons claim that this is the only issue that could cause disagreement, since the DPS is a typical "party of power", with no ideological, national and similar burdens. And just to make the spectre of comments of the local political agglomeration complete, an AIM interlocutor, who is close to the ruling party, claimed that Djukanovic had in fact agreed about the main outline of the interview with Bulatovic and Marovic!

    Finally, probably reflecting best the impossibility to detect the official Montenegrin policy (if it exists at all as anything consistent and recognizable), this high state official says: "I am still not sure what they they are actually doing. Are they slowly ruining Montenegro preparing it to become a region of Greater Serbia, are they, while suffering humiliation, waiting for the right moment to disentagle themselves from Milosevic's embrace and to create an independent state, or, as the third variant without a clear vision, are they making moves just to survive the day?" The man who is unable to resolve this trilemma tends to believe that the third possibility is true. Messages from Djukanovic's interview to "Pobjeda" seem to fit best into such a state of affairs.

    Darko SUKOVIC AIM Podgorica