AIM: start

WED, 25 JUL 2001 23:09:30 GMT

New Federal Prime Minister Designate from SNP

The Prime Minister for a Short-Term

For the fourth time in a row, a Montenegrin will take the helm of the new Federal Government and although Dragisa Pesic is relatively unknown to the broader public, no one is predicting that he would last long as chief of the Federal Government.

AIM Podgorica, July 18, 2001

The new Prime Minister designate of the FRY Government is Dragisa Pesic. His Socialist National Party of Montenegro (SNP) - the strongest parliamentary opposition party in Montenegro - nominated him for that post on July 15. The next day, as expected, FRY President Vojislav Kostunica agreed with this nomination thus finally putting an end to twenty-day long speculations as to who would be entrusted with the establishing the new Federal Government.

In other words, in only three years the FRY will for a fourth time in a row get a Prime Minister from Montenegro, and the third one from the Socialist National Party. After practically forgotten Radoje Kontic (from the times of the united DPS), Momir Bulatovic and Zoran Zizic from the SNP (who ended their careers ingloriously) Pesic will be the next to try his hand at it.

The composition of Pesic's Cabinet is mostly known, since this was agreed in Belgrade late last week after the SNP and the Democratic Opposition of Serbia signed a new coalition agreement. The Montenegrin coalition "For Yugoslavia" (composed of the Socialist National Party, the National Party and the Serbian National Party) will get four mandates: four ministerial posts in addition to the Prime Minister's. Three Montenegrin parties will get the departments of justice, economy, defence and transport and communications. Two Ministers will be from the SNP, and one from the National Party and the Serbian National Party each. The DOS will also get four ministries and the place of the Vice-Premier.

According to the available information, there were no misunderstandings regarding departments, since this will be a provisional Government, which should primarily enable the preparations for the adoption of the future FRY Constitution and continue country's integration into international economic institutions. The new Government should also ensure adequate political and democratic conditions so that new federal elections could be held in ten months, at the latest. According to statements of its leaders, the only thing the coalition "For Yugoslavia" insisted on was parity in the Federal Cabinet so that it could not be outvoted in decision-making as happened during Zoran Zizic's Government.

In his first statement for the public, the future Prime Minister and hitherto Finance Minister in Zoran Zizic's Cabinet, said that his Cabinet "could not be of limited term because it represents a full expression of the will and agreement of political factors at the federal level". According to Pesic, that will be a Government with full constitutional capacities and powers.

The new Prime Minister Designate of the Federal Government explained a novelty: under the coalition agreement made with the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), the Prime Minister will be able to veto "decisions that are unacceptable for Montenegro". Vice-Premier of the Government, who will be from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, will also have that possibility according to Pesic who expressed his hope that this right would not be exercised.

On that same day, in an interview for the Podgorica daily "The News"(Vijesti), the SNP President Predrag Bulatovic presented his somewhat different vision of the Government: "I shall insist that this Government be provisional. Its mandate and priority will be to translate into practice the new perception of relations in the future federation of Montenegro and Serbia. The deadline for this is mid or end of August so that a solution could be found for a disastrous state crisis and agony of FRY that cannot last much longer".

Who is the new Federal Prime Minister? Dragisa Pesic was born in 1954 in Danilovgrad. He graduated from the Faculty of Economy in Sarajevo. Until two years ago he worked as a financial expert in the economic sector and was twice Chairman of the Executive Board of the Municipal Assembly of Podgorica. He was a deputy to the Federal Assembly, Chairman of the Budget Committee of the Chamber of Citizens and in 1998 was elected Federal Minister of Finance. He discharged this function in Prime Minister Zizic's Federal Government since last November. When the Socialist National Party, whose President at that time was Momir Bulatovic, split into two separate organisations he sided with Predrag Bulatovic's stream.

Pesic was nominated by his party for this function as the envisaged deadline was expiring. According to many media, until the last minute the main candidate for the Prime Minister designate was Predrag Bulatovic, the SNP President. Rumour has it that Yugoslav President Kostunica would have gladly seen him in that role. But, Bulatovic refused that honour. Even Kostunica did not manage to persuade him to move to Belgrade.

Why did the SNP leader decide to refuse the Prime Minister's chair? That question bothered and still bothers many local advocates of the joint state. It seems that the fates of Radoje Kontic, Momir Bulatovic and Zoran Zizic, who will be remembered as Prime Ministers who did not "interfere" much in the federal affairs, was for Bulatovic, as an experienced politician, a sufficient warning not to continue political career in Belgrade. Apart from that, political careers of all those three went downhill after they stepped down as Prime Ministers.

Also, according to Bulatovic himself, FRY is in agony and the SNP's political leader is probably weighing all political options. The fact is that even SNP is no longer mentioning Yugoslavia without any other alternative(which was Momir Bulatovic's slogan), while Predrag Bulatovic insists that the Federation must be redefined. Until that time, the SNP leader wants to avoid any possibility of discrediting himself.

Finally, Bulatovic still vividly remembers reproof from Belgrade his party had been exposed to because of the "Hague Law". Therefore, he chose a sure thing: better to stay in Montenegro, i.e. at the helm of the SNP. And it seems that the monolithic unity of the party has been disrupted once again and Bulatovic is the only one who can preserve it.

Both SNP's allies will take part in the Federal Government. That is a great point for them and for that they should be thankful to the coalition with Bulatovic's Socialists. It is interesting that the National Party had boycotted the last year's federal elections and cannot boast of some poltiical rating. However, it is noticeable that the love for Yugoslavia is growing stronger in its ranks(although few years ago they called Yugoslavia a watchman) ever since they got a chance to grab a number of positions in the federal administration.

Regarding discussions on the formation of the new Government, members of the National Party have launched an information that even the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro might take part in that Government(which Podgorica doesn't recognise for some time). However, that will not happen. President of the DPS Executive Committee Miodrag Vukovic stated that his party would not participate in the formation of the Federal Government, and that it was not interested in possible federal elections. "The DPS will not take part in any federal elections, either now or ever, because it considers FRY to be a hackneyed idea and because the solution is not a joint state, but an alliance of mutually recognised states of Montenegro and Serbia", said Vukovic.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic also stated his stand on this issue. "The federal state is not a guarantee of good-quality and stable relations between Serbia and Montenegro. On the contrary, it was and still is a source of our conflicts, which was best seen in the past", said Vujanovic for TV Montenegro.

That is why political analysts from Montenegro assess that the latest Federal Prime Minister will not last long. Incidentally, leaders of Serbian authorities are no longer hiding their dissatisfaction with the federal authorities seeing them as a toll which Serbia doesn't need. In Montenegro preparations are underway for a referendum on its independence.

Serbia is also thinking about a referendum. That is why, Dragisa Pesic, as the Federal Prime Minister, might join those who will drive the last nail in the coffin of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Even the newly introduced right of veto for the Federal Prime Minister cannot help him much in this.