AIM: start

SAT, 26 MAY 2001 00:56:56 GMT

The Confusion around the New Montenegrin Government

The Liberals Went Too Far

With its new demands at a minute to twelve, the Liberal League has broken the already envisaged alliance with Djukanovic’s coalition and deepened the political crisis in Montenegro. Now nobody knows any more who will form the new government and how, and who will make new coalitions with whom

AIM Podgorica, May 20, 2001

Just two hours before the deadline (at midnight of May 18), the Liberal League of Montenegro (LSCG) handed in its draft agreement on post-election coalition and formation of the government with Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In this document, which was expected with great interest by the public in Montenegro and outside it, the Liberals have precisely stated their conditions for participating in the first true multiparty Montenegrin government.

Stressing that the purpose of creating the coalition with DPS and SDP is to create conditions for a free, honest and fair referendum, the Liberal League demands that a special law on referendum be passed within 60 days from the day of constitution of the Republican parliament pursuant which the referendum itself would have to be held within six months from the day of passing the law.

Other conditions set by the Liberals to DPS of Milo Djukanovic are much more interesting. Concerning the composition of the new government, the Liberal League has stuck to the agreement of May 10 when the leaders of this party met members of Djukanovic’s coalition last: it demands the post of the deputy prime minister in charge of the political system, full control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Justice, the post of state prosecutor and fifteen odd posts of assistant ministers in various departments. But there is also a novelty in the draft agreement. The Liberals who won six seats in the assembly in April elections, have demanded from Victory of Montenegro coalition to give them another five seats in the assembly! This idea has existed before, but as an “alternative proposal”. Now it has been raised to the level of an ultimatum.

Miroslav Vickovic, President of the Liberal League, says that the agreement was sent according to the principle “take it or leave it” although after the first and only negotiations of the leaders of LSCG, DPS and SDP it was announced that talks would continue after the Liberals made the first version of the coalition agreement? There will be no more consultations or negotiations”, Vickovic was resolute.

The unexpected shift caused considerable surprise in the political and general public not only because such post-election division of seats is not legally founded as many lawyers claim, but mostly because such a demand is interpreted as the break of a coalition that had almost been established among parties which prefer independent and internationally recognised Montenegro, and as a postponement of creation of Montenegrin state for an indefinite time.

Great surprise was also caused by the admittance of the Liberal League that on the topic of formation of a minority technical government which would consist only of Liberals it negotiated with the pro-Yugoslav, or rather pro-Serb Together for Yugoslavia coalition the members of which are the Socialist People’s Party, the People’s Party and the Serb People’s Party. And as Miroslav Vickovic claims, the agreement would have been signed if it had not been undermined by President of the People’s Party Dragan Soc.

Later it tuned out that on Friday, May 18, until late in the evening, LSCG negotiated with the leaders of SNP and SNS. Miodrag Zivkovic had been very optimistic the day before. “This is a very important, perhaps even the most important moment in recent Montenegrin history. For the first time we have a chance to establish controlled administration in Montenegro”, Zivkovic declared for state television.

Will all these plans supported by the majority in Montenegro go up in smoke?

Montenegrin President also sounded optimistic: Djukanovic said that he did not consider the offer of Montenegrin Liberals a blackmail because, being a pragmatic politician, he thought that the most significant thing was to create conditions that offered the possibility of democratic, pro-European and prosperous development and integration, and the condition for that was, as he said, the reconstruction of Montenegrin state, which was also the strategic goal of the Liberal League of Montenegro.

What made the Leaders of LSCG give up on the coalition with DPS and SDP and start negotiations with political opponents – Together for Yugoslavia coalition?

Miroslav Vickovic, President of LSCG, believes that this is a “logical and normal negotiating process” and the “the Liberals wanted to see who can give them a better offer”.

“Everybody negotiated with everybody else. After these elections Montenegro will not be the same and everybody must know that. It is quite normal that we too wished to weigh all the options. For Yugoslavia coalition offered us support of the minority government and a fair referendum” Vickovic calmly stated.

Whether the membership of the Liberal League will accept such an explanation remains to be seen. The behavior of the Liberal League simply must cause wonder at the first moment, especially because the leaders of this party during the past fifteen days kept repeating that for them the only possible alliance was that with Victory of Montenegro coalition because of the similarity of political stands. At the same time the Liberals were negotiating with political opponents, and from their “strategic partners” they seek five seats in the parliament – which they cannot get pursuant the law!

It was not necessary to wait for long for the reaction of DPS. The very next day, on Sunday May 20, vice-president of DPS Filip Vujanovic declared that the “Democratic Party of Socialists cannot accept unconstitutional and illegal conditions of the Liberal League”.

Now everything is back at the beginning, and the coalition of parties in favour of Montenegro’s independence (DPS, SDP and LSCG) does not seem possible any more. Two main negotiators of LSCG – Slavko Perovic and Miroslav Vickovic - publicly said so. It is interesting that nominally the first man of the party and political leader of LSCG – Miodrag Zivkovic – did not appear in public during the “weekend crisis”.

The time for formation of the new government is slipping away and Djukanovic will have to conceive quickly a variant who will form the new Montenegrin government and how. After the failure with the Liberals one of the possibilities is to make a new political shift and turn to the pro-Yugoslav or pro-Serb block of parliamentary parties from Montenegro on the political map of which noting will be as before the elections.