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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

    SAT, 27 DEC 1997 23:35:12 GMT


    Montenegrin Fuse Lighted

    In his intention to deny the election of Milo Djukanovic for president of Montenegro, Milosevic decided to use the federal judiciary. The answer to that has already arrived from the Montenegrin parliament that this step is endangering the legal system in the federation and the fundamental rights of Montenegro as the equal member of the federal state. Reconciliation is considered to be impossible because it is a conflict of two opposite concepts: Milosevic's which recognizes only himself as the ruler, and Djukanovic's which is in favour of democratization of the authorities. The former relies on the fact that whole of Serbia backs him, which is 20 times larger than Montenegro, and the latter counts on the support of the international community which has put Serbia into isolation for violation of human rights and a longish list of other sins of its regime

    AIM Belgrade, 25 December, 1997

    Presidential elections in Serbia just for a short while pushed back the biggest cause of a headache of the Serbian regime personified by Slobodan Milosevic, and these are the disturbed relations with the Montenegrin leadership represented by Milo Djukanovic. The Serbian leader who has become the president of the federal state is more concerned about consequences of Djukanovic's victory in Montenegrin presidential elections than about political conditions in Serbia. The reason of his concern lies in Djukanovic's intention to oppose Milosevic's attempt to transfer the concept of uncontrolled rule he applied in Serbia to the federal level.

    Aware that Djukanovic is an obstacle for him to go on with his authoritarian rule, Milosevic at first tried to disqualify him politically, then to make him economically dependent on Serbia. When he succeeded in neither one nor the other, because Djukanovic won the elections and neutralized Milosevic's economic sanctions, the leader of the Serbian regime decided to resort to the last means - to question Djukanovic's election for president of Montenegro.

    Federal prosecutor Vukasin Jokanovic was ordered to set the federal legal machinery in motion in order to annul decisions of Montenegrin judiciary on the validity of Djukanovic's election. With this move, the conflict got a more profound dimension because the federal administration interfered in the Montenegrin conflict which caused a reaction of state administration of Montenegro. The Montenegrin parliament has already issued a statement and adopted a resolution which proclaimed the action of the federal public prosecutor infringement of the legal system of Yugoslavia and violation of fundamental and key rights of Montenegro, as an equal member of the federal state.

    Involvement of the federal administration in resolution of the controversy which is in the competence of a federal unit, was lighting of the quick burning "Montenegrin fuse". This just shows how resolute Milosevic is in his intention to remove Djukanovic at any cost, because relations have become so strained that if one of the conflicting parties fails to give in, survival of Yugoslavia can seriously be threatened. A ceasefire is not possible because two opposite conceptions are conflicted. Because of his ambition, the Serbian leader has already destroyed one federal state and a possible split with Montenegro would be just the second such step in his ten-year long rule.

    Djukanovic has seen through this combination of the president of the federal state, so he sent word to him that he had no intention to give up on pulling Montenegro out from his authoritarian rule, that is that he was not ready to let his republic share the isolationist position of Serbia. The Serbian regime proclaimed such behavior of Djukanovic, who is expected to officially take over the post of the president of Montenegro, to be a secessionist step. That is how Montenegro, after Slovenia and other republics of former SFRY, is given the same qualifications by the Serbian ruling circle.

    Except for Montenegro, Serbia was abandoned by all "brotherly" republics, and its leadership has always sought reasons for such steps in the other party. The conflict with the Montenegrin leadership is repetition of the same scenatrio. That is why there is justified fear in the Yugoslav public that, just when the fire caused by dissolution of SFRY was extinguished, a new one could be started which will destroy FRY.

    There is plenty of reason for fear because Milosevic proved to be a leader ready for mass human victims for the sake of preserving personal power, although he presented such intentions as struggle for saving Serb national interests. This is obvious from the existing situation in which he is still in power, and the position of the Serb nation, isolated by the international community, has never been worse.

    In view of the fact that the conflict with Djukanovic is in its last phase, the most topical question is what trump cards the two parties are holding just before the decisive showdown. Milosevic, as the president of FRY has used the federal judiciary, but the Montenegrin state agencies have rejected the possibility of its meddling in implementation of republican legistalture, with the explanation that federal judiciary is competent only in case of violation of federal regulations. In view of the fact that Milosevic is inclined towards using extra-institutional means, the public fears that disorders will be provoked in Montenegro which would open the possibility of introducing the state of emergency. In this Milosevic would be assisted by Bulatovic with his numerous supporters, who would play the role of the Trojan horse.

    What does Djukanovic have at his disposal, who not only wishes to ensure equality for Montenegro in the federal statem, but is also ready to fight on the federal level for democratization of political relations and elimination of individual rule. At this moment the Montenegrin prime minister who will take over the post of the president in just 20 days, enjoys the support of the assembly of Montenegro, of all state agencies and the judiciary of the republic, majority of political protagonists, as well as the fact that in the presidential elections he won support of the Montegrin electorate.

    The question arises, however, whether that is enough, since Montenegro is 20 times smaller than Serbia where the regime has power, regardless of the fact that in Serbia itself, Djukanovic has plenty of suporters. Many believe that Djukanovic's independent position in relation to Milosevic primarily depends on the support of the international community. Djukanovic is also aware of that, and he is planning to go on a long journey abroad immediately after inauguration for president of Montenegro. He will visit the USA, France, Germany, and a few other countries, and then return to Montenegro more resistant to Milosevic's threats.

    Djukanovic has enjoyed support of the international community much before this visit, which is acting repulsively towards Milosevic and would have probably given up on him altogether by now if it had not been for the danger of Seselj coming into power in Serbia. Many believe that the leader of the Radicals is a product of the Serbian regime, used for intimidation and warning that things can get even worse than what they are now.

    Ratomir Petkovic