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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, 05 NOV 1997 22:12:42 GMT

    Montenegro and the Federation after Djukanovic's Victory

    WITHOUT CHANGES IN SERBIA, MILOSEVIC SAFE

    AIM Podgorica, 30 October, 1997

    "Montenegro and its political capacities and forces can be a big problem for Milosevic, but all that is insufficient to remove the leader from power, if nothing changes in Serbia", comments Srdjan Darmanovic, political scientist from Podgorica, the newly created situation on the federal level, after Djukanovic's victory in the presidential elections in Montenegro.

    This is the essence of the answer to the question which is most frequently put after the second round of Montenegrin presidential elections - what will happen to the relations in the federation, and what will happen to Milosevic. In answer to the first part of the mentioned dilemma, in the interview for Serbia independent RTV stations, Djukanovic was quite direct, announcing replacement of the current Montenegrin ministers by men who would "protect state interest of Montenegro" and "add to recognition of the active role of the federal government", and to the question what would happen if the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) refused to accept changes, he briefly answered: "Then it will not be the federal government, but a government which is competent only for the territory of the Republic of Serbia".

    As concerning Milosevic, a day before, in an interview to the German weekly Spiegl, Djukanovic said that he would cooperate with him as the president of FRY, that the other federal unit had proposed him (Milosevic) for the post, but also added that he would object to any amendment of the federal constitution or exceeding of the head of the federation the limits and duties prescribed by it.

    Being an experienced politician, Djukanovic is evidently aware that in current conditions he cannot demand the head of the omnipotent Milosevic especially because there is neither a constitutional possibility for anything of the kind, nor a serious and strong associate for that in Serbia. Above all, Djukanovic will have to deal with the big business of improving conditions in his own backyard where Milosevic himself, by means of his media propaganda and his political puppet personified in Momir Bulatovic, is holding Montenegro on the verge of the abyss of a civil war. The intention of the federal sheriff, however irrational and risky it may be, is simply merciless: he is relying on further straining of interethnic relations in Montenegro, on economic pressures, complete destabilization of the smaller federal unit in order to further weaken and soften Djukanovic, making him in this way less dangerous for his own status on the federal level.

    "Djukanovic's victory created conditions for changing political relations in the Federation, but not for changing the constitutional system", says Srdjan Darmanovic and continues, "Former interest and political coalition of Serbian and Montenegrin Socialists (SPS®DPS) will probably turn into a conflicting coalition or co-habitation of Djukanovic and Milosevic. Instead of the former partnership and cooperation we will have a rivalry of all those who are forced to cooperate being the ruling forces, and both the ones and the others will wait for the opportunity to weaken 'the other' and be replaced by a 'desirable' partner".

    Darmanovic underlines that constitutional possibilities of Montenegro are not large enough to directly endanger Milosevic and that they (possibilities) are more defensive in nature, more adequate for prevention of negative political trends than for an active and leading role. This stand is confirmed by figures: Montenegro in the chamber of citizens has only 30 deputies, while Serbia has 108, and the chamber of the republics is formed on parity (20 deputies each) with the right to veto both for the Montenegro but also for Serbia. Similar is the situation in the federal government which is composed according to the ratio 70:30 in favour of Serbia.

    Therefore, it is more realistic to doubt the possibility of implementation of the new policy of the new Montenegrin president in the federal government and the assembly, than serious destablization of Milosevic. Indeed, in order to replace Milosevic's men in the federal government who originate from the "Montenegrin list", Pavle Bulatovic who is in charge of the army, Rade Filipovic who deals with the economy and Zoran Knezevic who "protects" justice, Djukanovic must first obtain approval of Milosevic himself, since he fully controls federal prime minister Kontic who is formally in charge of personnel shifts in the federal cabinet. Djukanovic in this respect already has bad experience - during the election campaign he demanded from prime minister Kontic to relieve Knezevic and Bulatovic of duty because of their party engagement in Montenegro, but the prime minister responded to it by - passing over it in silence. If on the other hand Djukanovic tried to relieve Kontic of duty and bring "his man" to the post, he would need support of a two-thirds majority of both chambers of the federal parliament. In the existing situation, Montenegrin president can do nothing but day-dream about it. But, disregard of the will of the Montenegrin majority and denial of its right to nominate the prime minister which it is entitled to do by the federal constitution would put Milosevic into an awkward position, which is confirmed by the mentioned declaration of Milo Djukanovic given to independent RTV stations in Serbia. In this case, Montenegro would withdraw its personnel from the federation which would mark the introduction into its gaining independence. This is an epilogue already seen on the territory of former Yugoslavia.

    Due to all that, Milosevic is so vehemently attacking Djukanovic and so persistently refusing to recognize his election victory. "Nobody in Serbia intends to intervene in Montenegro. We support Momir Bulatovic", picturesquely, maybe unwillingly, the spokesman of the SPS Ivica Dacic, described the stance of the Belgrade regime. That is why it is more realistic to expect in the foreseeable future that Djukanovic will be much more concerned about the interests of Montenegro and the situation within Montenegro than deal with the destiny of the federation and its head, although these two things are interdependent. Djukanovic fears that Milosevic will go all the way with the pressure, forcing him to face the very difficult decision to seek salvation for Montenegro and its people in secession. That is why it would suit him, Djukanovic, much better to leave Milosevic alone until he consolidated his position in Montenegro, and vice versa. And then, strengthened and completely prepared, and not like till now driven into a corner and on the defensive, to lie waiting for the moment to seal Milosevic's doom. Such an epilogue is still quite improbable because it demands a precondition - triumph of the civic and democratic option in Serbia. Since such a possibility is still not in sight in the bigger federal unit, Djukanovic need not be concerned by this issue, and Milosevic can be - carefree.

    Marko Vukovic

    AIM Podgorica