FRI, 24 JAN 1997 23:54:30 GMT
Under the control of Belgrade
Ever since the constitution of the federal state, foreign policy of the FR Yugoslavia is under the absolute control of Milosevic and his political group. Despite thunderous announcements, but also modest attempts, of Podgorica it turned out that the Democratic Party of Socialists has no constitutional foundations, real political strength nor wish to protect the Montenegrin interests and distance itself from the Milosevic's regime.
AIM Podgorica, 15 January, 1997
The political crisis in Serbia and the international reactions have seriously shaken the walls of Serbian-Montenegrin federation: never since the constitution of FRY have the political elites of member republics - SPS and DPS - been more distant form each other, even temporarily and judging by public declarations. At the same time it turned out that all the mechanisms of foreign-policy action available to the Montenegrin leadership, exist only in Podgorica. The recent international activity of the federal administration, i.e. communications with the OSCE Commission in connection with the stealing of votes in Serbia, reflected a negligible, insignificant influence of the DPS frontmen on the creation of the federal foreign policy, or at the level of the Federal Government which is only formally presided over by a DPS member, Radoje Kontic.
No only has the Federal Minister spoken and presented the stands of Milosevic and his team, but he fully ignored clearly stated stands of the DPS coalition partners who, in several public statements of DPS frontmen, have expressly demanded the respect of the electoral will of the citizens of Serbia. The activity of the Federal Minister Milutinovic is actually a logical consequence and a continuation of the activity of high officials of the federal diplomacy who have, all these years, mainly represented the policy of the Serbian leadership, irrespective of the official stands of Montenegro.
The leaders of the ruling Montenegrin party have on many occasions publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the moves of the federal administration, especially in the foreign policy domain. Already during the sanctions and "rule" of the Federal Minister Vladislav Jovanovic, in mid 1993, Djukanovic "disclosed" that the federal diplomacy was not doing enough for the "positive image of Montenegro and the FRY". The DPS leadership expressed its extreme dissatisfaction with the personnel structure of the Federal Foreign Ministry. "We are preparing Montenegrin cadres, mostly young experts, around forty years of age, who will contribute to the improvement and promotion of the work of the FRY Foreign Ministry", three years ago Momir Bulatovic resolutely announced new, fresh blood in the federal administration.
Despite resolute announcements it turned out that the story of the DPS leader was ineffective: the personnel structure of the Federal MIP did not change much, nor have the Montenegrin diplomats taken any important positions in the European diplomatic metropolises. Until recently, former Montenegrin Foreign Affairs Minister and present FRY Ambassador in Italy, Miodrag Lekic, was the only Montenegrin occupying an ambassadorial position in an European country. Truth to tell, this year two more persons from the Montenegrin personnel list have been recruited for ambassadors in Europe: Dr.Milos Radulovic was appointed Ambassador in London and Gojko Dapcevic Ambassador in Kiev. However, it can be hardly said that this is "fresh blood in the federal diplomacy, both are well on in their seventies and without any particular diplomatic experience, and would therefore not exert any significant influence on the image of the federal diplomatic service.
The most important institution through which Montenegro can express itself abroad - Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the FRY - is under the full personnel control of the Serbian leadership. Namely, the Montenegrins are negligibly represented in the federal MIP: out of 1,300 employed only 98 are from Montenegro. As regards higher positions (minister, deputy minister and over 20 directors of various departments) only three - Dr.Radovan Bulajic, Danilo Sekulovic and Sanja Mikovic - are from the Montenegrin personnel list. However, it should be mentioned that Sekulovic (Deputy for Consular Affairs) and Mikovic (Head of the Press Sector) have been appointed only three months ago, two years after their nomination for the MIP, regardless of numerous interventions of the Montenegrin top state leadership.
No better is the personnel structure of the FRY diplomatic representations. Consequently, out of three FRY missions with the United Nations (New York, Geneva and Brussels) not one "belongs" to the Montenegrins. It can therefore be rather accurately said that the number of Montenegrin diplomatic staff in the federal administration is even lower than it was at the times of SFRY, when six republics and two provinces aspired to get on the diplomatic list of the federal MIP.
Aware of these limitations, the Montenegrin Prime Minister Djukanovic announced recently in the Assembly of Montenegro that he personally, as well as the DPS leadership will "activate all constitutional mechanisms so as to protect the interests of Montenegro at the international level". Djukanovic also emphasized that Montenegro will try to directly communicate with the international financial institutions and associations. In a part of the public, particularly in Belgrade, this statement acquired dramatic connotations as an announcement of the secession of Montenegro from the FRY.
However, the analysis of constitutional competences of member republics shows that there is no reason for alarm in the ranks of the defenders of the federal state. True enough, Article 7 of the FRY Constitution allows certain foreign-policy autonomy of the federal members. "Within its competences, a member republic may maintain international relations, establish its own representation offices in other states and become a member of international organizations", stipulates the FRY Constitution.
However, the second paragraph of that same Article of the federal Constitution expressely states that a federal unit may enter into international agreements and treaties, but "not to the detriment of FRY and the other member republic". This provision gives legal grounds to Milosevic and the SPS for the full control over the activities of the Montenegrin leadership. Because the constitutionality, i.e. "harmfulness" of a specific international treaty is estimated by the Federal Constitutional Court, which so far, on several occasions demonstrated that it carries out only the orders of Belgrade. Thus, for example, several time the Constitutional Court promptly proclaimed the decisions of the Montenegrin Government unconstitutional, but at the same time did not presume to estimate the constitutionality of the broad authority vested with the President of Serbia. There is therefore no reason to believe that the practice will change. Recently, it initiated a debate for estimating the constitutionality of the Montenegrin Law on Off-Shore Companies so that the functioning of mechanisms for bringing Montenegro under discipline will soon be seen in practice.
Consequently, there is nothing else the leaders of the Democratic Party of Socialists can do, but try to establish the international image of Montenegro in a roundabout way. Thus, last year in Washington, a Trade Mission of Montenegro was established, headed by Ratko Knezevic, special advisor to Prime Minister Djukanovic. Apart from that, the "Montenegrobanka" from Podgorica bought a house in London which, according to a government decision, will soon be turned into a Trade Mission of Montenegro in Great Britain. In addition, the Montenegrin authorities are firmly determined to use the existing privatization cycle for selling state property to foreign partners. Insisting on the process of privatization in line with the international standards, the Montenegrin authorities are endeavouring to distance themselves from the practice and strategy of state socialism pursued in Serbia.
However, the "alternative" foreign policy activity of Montenegro cannot compensate for some systemic errors made in the constitution of the FRY and make final distinction as regards Serbia. According to the key provisions of the founding acts of the IMF, World Bank and other financial organizations the right to membership only have sovereign and internationally recognized states, and not federal units, such as Montenegro. Therefore, a recent Prime Minister's threat that Montenegro will start direct negotiations with the IMF, World Bank and other organizations is but an empty threat rather than based on reality.
From the position of world powers, the difference between the regime in Podgorica and the one in Belgrade is only the question of nuances. There is no way the international community will spare Montenegro of possible new sanctions as long as it is in a federal alliance with Milosevic's Serbia. The Western reasoning is simple: the same state - the same treatment of members. Trapped in federal constitutional norms, excluded from the creation of strategies and personnel structure of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SMIP), with no possibility to directly link Montenegro with key international organizations - the DPS leaders can only grumble and wait. Joining the project of the creation of the FRY as a "community of equal partners", the leaders of the ruling party have condemned themselves, and thereby Montenegro, to fully share the fate of Milosevic and his political projects. Despite thunderous announcements, but also modest attempts of Podgorica, it turned out that the Democratic Party of Socialists has no constitutional foundations, real political strength nor wish to protect the Montenegrin interests and distance itself from the Milosevic's regime.
Drasko DjURANOVIC AIM Podgorica