SAT, 31 MAY 1997 20:02:33 GMT
A New Stage in the DPS Conflicts
After he realized that with a blitzkrieg he could not overthrow his main opponent Milo Djukanovic, the Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic decided on a different tactics - a quiet, patient and sneering backbiting of the Prime Minister which should annul the existing Djukanovic's advantage in the public, and even within the DPS, as quickly as possible. And the reason is that the Main Board of the ruling party has already opened competition for the presidential candidate.
AIM Podgorica, 16 May, 1997
All those in favour of the democratic transformation of Montenegro were disappointed after the recent session of the Main Board (GO) of the ruling DPS. Instead of the expected definite break and disintegration of the party, no matter how strange it might sound, the Bulatovic's socialists emerged with a "new unity", a compromise and conciliatory attitude of both confronted sides. President Bulatovic gave up his ultimate request for the relief of the chief of secret police of duty, while Prime Minister Djukanovic agreed to the formation of the so called State Council with the Presidential Cabinet, which would, in a certain sense, control the work of SDB (State Security Service) and protect common people from a possible "stretching of its authority". Also, Bulatovic seemingly yielded to demands of some party cells by reinstating Prime Minister Djukanovic as the Vice-President of the party, from which position he had resigned already in March after the first GO session, but also shrewdly took advantage of that move to bring Djukanovic back under the full control of the Statute and Party authorities, which he obviously managed to escape in the last few months.
However, no matter how much the DPS apparatchiks celebrated "the new party victory", it is clear to everyone that this is no reconciliation or establishment of unity within the ruling party. Divisions between the so called "Bulatovic's hardliners" and Djukanovic's "reformists" have remained - the war is continuing, but only with different arms.
Several evenings ago President Bulatovic himself confirmed this statement in his show on state television when he stated that "there were differences", that "they remained even after the last GO session", but that now "these would be resolved in a democratic way, within the Party". Much more on this subject than these recognizable phrases he said in his other statements in which, offhandedly he practically spat on both the character and work of the Prime Minister and his Vice-President Djukanovic. Skillfully led by questions of his loyal editor of TV Montenegro, Bulatovic spoke negatively about the work of the Government, its numerous moves, especially concerning the recently contracted credits with foreign partners, concluding that the "outer wall of sanctions cannot serve as an excuse for a poor economic situation". However, that was not all. A day after the mentioned appearance on the TV, accompanied by his most loyal associates, Bulatovic visited Pljevlja, a mining settlement in northern Montenegro, where before his party comrades, he repeated his accusations on the account of Government and in the process secured the full support of the local party branch for his presidential nomination!
Rumour has it that the opposite side was surprised, even flabbergasted. Djukanovic's followers say that in this way Bulatovic has betrayed the agreement reached by the Main Board and that "Milo will pay him back dearly" for that. As announced, tomorrow the Prime Minister is going on a tour of south Montenegro, to the port of Bar, which might come in handy to repay President Bulatovic in kind for the glove he threw from Pljevlja directly to his face.
Also, today has also started the long awaited and announced session of the Montenegrin Parliament. That will also be an opportunity to see the balance of powers within the ruling party and test the newly founded unity. The DPS Deputy Club and the GO have stated that an agreement had been reached regarding a joint stand on all items on the assembly agenda and since the assignments have been distributed it is hard to believe that individual discussions, particularly the one concerning editorial policy of state media, will not be accompanied by conflicts between the two streams within the ruling Socialists. Since the state electronic media, Radio and Television (RTV) of Montenegro are currently under the control of President Bulatovic, which gives him much advantage both in the assembly discussions as well as in the presidential race, Djukanovic and his fellow-combatants will have to open up this issue and directly demand resignations of directors and editors of these media if they want to win the upper hand. This is also supported by the fact that this item - discussion on the editorial policy of the state media - was without a plan put on the agenda by "Djukanovic's men", and that just before the session, Bozidar Jaredic, Montenegrin Secretary of Information presented his negative assessment of the work of RTV Montenegro.
The behaviour of the official Belgrade in this whole DPS galimatias is indicative. After the initial offensive statement against to Prime Minister Djukanovic, a lull ensued, so that even rumours started going around that Milosevic was trying to strike a compromise and is opposed to the breaking up of the ruling Montenegrin party!? This was supported by a certain giving in on Djukanovic's part who was first spotted by camera chatting with Milosevic in the White Palace on the FRY State Day, and then several days later in an interview to the BBC he said that "Milosevic did not exert pressure" on him to reshuffle his cabinet and replace some ministers. With such moves and statements Djukanovic obviously did himself a disservice because his relentless challenging of Milosevic and Milosevic's reaction through the media harangue of the Belgrade pro-regime media against Montenegrin Prime Minister have actually brought him most points and drastically increased his popularity among the Montenegrin population.
With seemingly conciliatory messages from Milosevic's court, communicated by the newly-appointed Vice-President of the SPS, Milorad Vucelic, once a good friend of Djukanovic, the calming down of the campaign against Montenegrin Prime Minister in the SPS state media, the young Prime Minister was caught in the web and gave space to practically lost Bulatovic for a counter-attack. Naturally, the latter knew how to take advantage of this and to score it seems impeccably.
So, like in an exhausting marathon race, the two approximately equally well prepared runners, Bulatovic and Djukanovic, are charging towards the finish line, alternatively taking the lead every hundred yards. There is not much left to the finish. The mentioned Assembly session and party decision on the presidential candidate will clarify the dilemma who of the two is stronger: Bulatovic or Djukanovic. The DPS membership and voters have been affected by this irreconcilable split and by the choice they will have to make "between the two evils". But, since it is so, it will not be difficult to choose - Bulatovic's ideological-national platform, links with Russia and China, xenophobic relation towards the international community, waspishness and hostility towards neighbours, passion that keeps him in Milosevic's embrace - all these are elements which rule him out as a statesman which can bring some good to this Republic. In any case, the past eight years confirm that best.