TUE, 03 JUL 2001 00:21:57 GMT
Milosevic's Extradition to the Hague - Montenegro's Reactions
The Departure of a Beloved (Foe)Friend
According to first statements after Milosevic's extradition to the
Hague, all relevant factors on the Montenegrin political scene are aware
of the necessity of changing the state-legal relations between Serbia
and Montenegro. True, it is still unclear whether until recent advocates
of the federation will move closer towards the project of greater
independence of Montenegro or, perhaps, Djukanovic will make a deal with
AIM Podgorica, June 29, 2001
On Friday night, 24 hours after Slobodan Milosevic "departed" for the
Hague, some hundred people took part in protests organised in Podgorica
by Momir Bulatovic's non-parliamentary party NSS against the decision of
the Serbian Government. In view of the fact that some ten months before
that Milosevic won 110 thousand votes in Montenegro at the federal
elections, it is clear that his "charisma" burst like a soap bubble
after he lost power.
Although expected, this event was not devoid of disbelief and
tragicomic outbursts of (political) emotions. The Montenegrin political
elite received in Parliament the news that the former President of
Serbia and FRY was on his way to the Hague, at the moment when the
Parliament was about to vote on the new Republican Cabinet of Prime
Minister designate, Filip Vujanovic.
And while journalists were chasing after first party reactions,
deputies of Bulatovic's SNP scattered around as fast as their legs could
carry them, officials of the Democratic Party of Socialists and Popular
Party (once both these parties closely collaborated with Milosevic) had
"no comment", but no one had to beg the Liberals and Social-Democrats
for statements which, in a simplified form boiled down to a conclusion
that Slobodan Milosevic got what he deserved.
Only Mehmed Bardhi, delegate of the Democratic Alliance of Albanians,
as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening, sat in the empty
Assembly hall reading his speech commenting on Vujanovic's policy
The SDP Vice-President, Dragisa Burzan, assessed with unhidden pleasure
that finally "doors will be open for a peaceful procedure in which
Montenegro will become sovereign, without the repression of criminals
and those protecting them". Similar was the reasoning of Miodrag
Zivkovic, political leader of the Liberal Alliance. He interpreted
Milosevic's departure for the Hague as an "act which will exonerate the
Serbian nation of the collective guilt for war crimes" and said that
after the announcements that Serbia would be denied financial assistance
of the international community his party knew "that money would be a
decisive factor" in the resolution of problems with Milosevic's
Several minutes before that, the SNP leader, Predrag Bulatovic repeated
from the Assembly rostrum that his party would break up the coalition
with DOS if the Serbian Government adopted any decision on the
extradition of Yugoslav citizens to the Tribunal before the
Constitutional Court pronounced the final ruling on the Federal
Government's Decree on Extradition.
That evening there was no one in the SNP's headquarters. Although it
was logical to expect that a party, which until Milosevic's political
crash swore by his patriotism, would hold at least an urgent session of
its party leadership, that did not happen. Even the rare curious
followers who inquired by phone about the events in Belgrade, were left
without any explanation, let alone comfort, because there was no one in
the SNP to give it to them. Moreover, on behalf of his party Dragan
Koprivica informed that the existing federation has collapsed because of
actions of Zoran Djindjic's Cabinet, which violated the Federal and
Serbian Constitutions. He repeated Bulatovic's words that SNP would
re-examine its coalition with the DOS.
It was clear already then that, pushed to the wall, this party was left
without elbowroom. The formal decision was announced a day later – Zoran
Zizic, Federal Prime Minister submitted his resignation. This marked the
break up of half-year long coalition between DOS and SNP. The hidden
frustration of the officials of "pro-Yugoslav" bloc in Montenegro
surfaced on the front page of the "Montenegrin Voice" (a SNP-controlled
daily). A title on a totally black front page, not seen even at times of
greatest natural disasters and war devastations in these parts, read "On
St.Vitus' Day...The wretched Serbdom extinguished".
On the other hand, frontmen of the ruling DPS did not hide their
pleasure. The hitherto Prime Minister and now Prime Minister designate,
Filip Vujanovic expressed his expectations that after Milosevic's
surrender Serbia and Montenegro would find it "much easier to reach" an
agreement on the establishment of new relations. "Serbia has shown that
it considered Milosevic's extradition its internal affair and that the
federal state no longer exists".
Even more precise was Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, who stated
that he did not believe that "Milosevic's extradition would crucially
change anything in Serbian-Montenegrin relations. They are at a low
level and deserve radical redefinition".
According to first forecasts and public statements, all relevant
factors on the Montenegrin political scene are aware of the need for
changing state-legal relations between Serbia and Montenegro. True, it
is still unclear whether until recent advocates of the federation will
move closer towards the project of greater independence of Montenegro.
Analysts point out that another alternative is also possible - if it
manages to buy time for overcoming internal disagreements, relieved of
Milosevic as a burden and assisted by the international community the
united opposition of Serbia might increase pressure on that part of
Montenegrin public which advocates
its full independence.
Regarding one of many combinations which might be used in the coming
period, Milo Djukanovic said: "New federal elections might be held, but
we believe that pragmatic people from the DOS and SNP will try to find
some other solution that would spare them the ordeals of new elections".
What solution did he have in mind Djukanovic did not want or could not
reveal. However, it now seems that this life-saving formula is unknown
even to those who should know it: the SNP leaders and, their for the
time being only ally at the federal level, Vojislav Kostunica.