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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

    SUN, 17 DEC 1995 20:53:08 GMT

    Montenegro and recognition of the FRY

    FROM THE FRONTLINE INTO THE TRENCHES

    AIM Podgorica, December 16, 1995

    "...After Dayton, Serbia will do its best to centralize its power and crumble Montenegrin 'autonomy'... Are there any Montenegrins left who have not realized that Serbia needs Montenegro for its hundred kilometres of tourist and trading coast and as a buffer zone with Albania?" In the last volume of Montenegrin independent weekly Monitor, with these words, one of the opposition leaders from Serbia and a well known analysts of local political developments, Dr Dragan Veselinov, contemplates on the topic of "futura Montenegrina". He has already got verification for his first assessment - namely, Dr Ratko Markovic, the leading constitution writer of present Yugoslavia, has admitted that, finally, preparations for amending the Constitution have begun, "especially in the part which refers to the President's competences". Noone has reacted to this announcement yet, neither from among the ranks of the opposition who had suspected something of the kind for a long time, nor from the ruling party which used to vigorously deny all rumours about Constitution amendments and centralization of the community they call hypocoristically "modern federation of equal republics".

    Judging by experience, Bulatovic's Socialists will not do much to oppose the announced inauguration of tsar Milosevic. The Army which the President of Serbia is firmly holding under control is still a sufficiently convincing "argument" for the Montenegrins. Just as it had been in the Hague, when Bulatovic tried to slip free from the brotherly embrace, and at the time of the so-called Zabljak Constitution, when the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) had initially proposed a confederate form of a union with Serbia, and then, after Milosevic's visit to Podgorica, readily accepted the federal unitary option. Indeed, Bulatovic and his fellow-fighters did their best to promote Milosevic as the inviolable leader (even of the electorate of Montenegro which in all polls give majority of votes to him), so it would be absurd to expect them to oppose legalization of the actual situation. All that, however, does not mean that Milo and Momir will be enthusiastic about centralization of power in Belgrade. Not for the sake of Montenegrin, but of their own personal interests, because proportionally, the more power flows into Milosevic's hands, the weaker their positions will become. A President such as Lilic and the state (which practically does not exist) such as the FRY was so far, suited the Podgorica regime best - each was the master in his own domain, they in Montenegro, and Milosevic in Serbia.

    The future President of Yugoslavia is certainly aware of such desires of the Montenegrins, so he will, probably, try to satisfy their appetites with what they have so far been easiest silenced by - an important post in Belgrade. There is already much speculation about Milosevic nominating the current Montenegrin President Bulatovic for the post of the new federal prime Minister. It seems that this would be a move with the best effect - he would make Montenegrins feel important and big, and in return, he would get absolute support.

    As concerning the opposition, it has received the newly established circumstances from different standpoints, and is therefore adapting to them differently. The so-called Serb parties are squabbling with the DPS for power, because the ruling party, at least when the relation between Montenegro and Serbia is concerned, has respected their will, while the so-called "Montenegrin block" must first win power and then fight for an independent state. Therefore, it can easily be noted that nothing much has changed in the behavior of the Nationalists and the Radicals - they still see the future of Montenegro in a union with Serbia, so that their complaints and discontent refer only to the fact that there are no new "Serb states" ("Republic of Serb Krajina" or the "Republic of Srpska") in this "family of equals".

    The position of the Liberal Association and Social Democrats (SDP) is much more complex. Due to Milosevic's shift towards peace, especially due to practically achieved recognition of the FRY by the international community, their project of a sovereign Montenegro is postponed for an indefinite period of time. Secret wishful thinking of the Liberals and the SDP-ists that Milosevic would perish together with the project of Greater Serbia has not come true. Their inclination towards Europe, tolerance, anti-war stance which were the foundation of their project of sovereignty are rapidly melting. Instead of a battle at the front, the struggle with Belgrade is moving to the "trenches".

    The Liberals do not give up in this sense - at their recently finished convention they put maximum stress on their advocating of independence of Montenegro, adopting, among other, two resolutions - the one about abolition of decisions of the so-called Podgorica assembly which voted in favour of annexation of Montenegro by Serbia in 1918, and the other, about the Army of Yugoslavia being an occupation force which deserves to be boycotted. This "military" resolution caused quite a turmoil in the public, especilly its "patriotic" part which recognized the "Slovenian syndrome" in it and danger of similar "secessionist attempts".

    Contrary to the Liberals, the Social Democrats are in a dilemma even about redefining their objective itself - sovereignty, yes or no? For the time being, they will remain on this road together with the Liberals of Montenegro, but in respect to the manner of fighting for this objective and possible reaching it - they differ drastically. While the Liberals are "aggressive" and go straight to the point concerning it, the SDP prefers a gradual approach and a struggle "through institutions". The Liberals do not even recognize the FRY, nor the federal parliament, nor the Army of Yugoslavia, in fact none of the federal institutions, while the SDP, especially after the favourable attitude of the international community, sees no real and political foundation for such formal legal denial of the Serb-Montenegrin federation.

    As concerning the international community, starting from sacred principles of legality and legitimization, it neither intends to make a state for the Montenegrins, nor question the ruling party which is not only cooperative, but also elected at more or less democratic elections. At the mentioned convention of the Liberal Association of Montenegro (LSCG), one of the present diplomats, a British, said that they had come to Cetinje not to support the program of the LSCG nor of any other party, but to support democratic convictions of the Liberals and their choice of democratic means in the struggle for effectuation of their program. Therefore, the naive belief that international factors would not recognize the FRY, but all six republics of ex-Yugoslavia, has completed melted. The "fait accompli" has been of a decisive significance again.

    Nevertheless, Dragan Veselinov sees "futura Montenegrina" in Montenegro's winning independence and its turning towards the West, "towards Venice where Njegos had gone 150 years ago". Montenegro should become a new independent Luxembourg, Veselinov writes, because there is no future for it with Serbia of Mira Markovic. The present Serbia wants neither to become part of Europe, nor does it want capitalism, he claims. Tht is why he sees an opportunity for the Montenegrins in pushing economic reforms and establishing links with America, which would show that Belgrade is lagging behind and that there is no other way for Montenegro but to become an independent state. It is doubtful, however, to what extent this projection is founded on wishes, and to what extent on real premisses, that is, to what extent on present, and to what extent on a future situation. Because, what will happen if Holbrooke convinces Milosevic that he cannot survive without privtization, nor without joining the NATO. Rumours have already appeared that, after his inauguration as the tsar of the FRY, the first Milosevic's move will be - application for reception in the NATO. A hard-core Liberal commented on this rumour: "I would not mind at all living in such a state". Come what may, one thing is quite clear - the story about "two eyes in the head" is still not over, and just as before, Belgrade will affect its epilogue the most. The more it will turn towards Washington and Brussels, the less space will be left for Montenegrin "separatism", and vice versa.

    Marko Vukovic