SUN, 06 JAN 2002 23:58:31 GMT
The Second Round of Serbian-Montenegrin Negotiations
Experts Helpless Too
In all likelihood, the politicians, who are the ones that have come up
with the complicated and one-of-a-kind Serbian-Montenegrin sate
community, will have to take the untying of a noose called the Yugoslav
Federation into their own hands.
AIM Podgorica, December 29, 2001
Experts are also unable to untie the noose called the Yugoslav
Federation that has been tightening around Montenegro's and Serbia's
necks for a decade. Most information that reached the public after two
recent attempts of Montenegrin and Serbian experts at redefining the
relations between Montenegro and Serbia were along that line. By the
looks of it, the politicians will have to take the untying of this knot
into their own hands, since they are the ones who had invented this
complicated and unique Serbian-Montenegrin state community.
"Had we reached some kind of an agreement, we would have ended the
meeting today. No agreement was reached. The divisions are so deep even
among experts that we do not expect much from them either. It is obvious
that political issues are in question, because until now we have managed
to state some things. However, the entire decision-making process will
have to be transferred to those who have caused this situation - i.e.
politicians", summed up the talks held so far Veselin Vukotic Ph.D.
(member of the Montenegrin expert team) after the second meeting held in
Podgorica on December 27.
Expert teams have been issued political instructions to find optimal
solutions to several issues: constitutional-legal, economic -social,
monetary, foreign-political and security. Behind tightly closed doors
they have been discussing at separate meetings, with the participation
of observers from the European Union, which through diplomatic pressures
made Podgorica and Belgrade resume dialogue when political elites of
Montenegro, Serbia and FRY concluded after September negotiations that
they could not reach an agreement.
Predrag Drecun, a member of the Serbian team and Vice-President of the
National Party of Montenegro told us: "Just before their meeting in
Podgorica, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign
Policy and Security, Javier Solana instructed expert teams that they
would have to discuss the federal option, and only afterwards the option
on the possible disappearance of the FRY".
Two more Montenegrin experts are defending the "Serbian-Yugoslav
colours", i.e. the federation of Montenegro and Serbia, whereas the
majority of the eight other members originate from the smaller federal
unit. According to political analysts Vojislav Kostunica, the FRY
President, wanted to show the international community in this way too,
that there are Montenegrins in Montenegro who are cooperating with the
Belgrade authorities in contrast to Montenegrin Prime Minister
Djukanovic and his "separatists".
"Kostunica's expert team was selected with the intention of
artificially transferring the problem of Serbian-Montenegrin relation to
the Montenegrin court and trying to present this major problem to Europe
and the world as merely internal Montenegrin problem. Kostunica is using
the Montenegrin issue for instrumentalising his clerical-nationalistic
policy. He is equally opposed to democratic Serbia and democratic
Montenegro. That means that he is against democratic Europe. Some of his
experts have proven experience with organising anti-Montenegrin, old and
new para-political associations. Those people have inherited a tribal
spirit and reduce Montenegro to a folklore proof of their deformed
understanding of Serbdom and Orthodoxy", said Aleksandar Durisic, a
delegate of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS).
Experts from Montenegro are trying to define joint functions of
Montenegro and Serbia as sovereign states. However, at recent "difficult
talks" in Podgorica, as one of the participants assessed them, all
options of the Federation have been reviewed, as well as consequences of
In that context, a special emphasis has been placed on monetary issues.
As we learned from sources close to the Montenegrin delegation,
representatives of Montenegro stood firm on their view that Montenegro
should keep its monetary sovereignty and Euro as the official currency
and basis of reforms, as well as that in this sphere no concessions
could be made to Serbian and Yugoslav authorities, which demanded
transfer of monetary sovereignty to Belgrade and reintroduction of the
dinar in Montenegrin payment operations. That is why this part of
negotiations was nearly suspended soon after economic experts of the two
sides exchanged arguments. The Montenegrin side suggested that Serbia
should also introduce the Euro, but this idea did not meet with the
understanding of Belgrade delegation so that experts parted
firmly maintaining their views.
According to Predrag Drecun, representatives of the European Union were
not favourably inclined towards the idea of the Montenegrin team either.
"The European Union said in no uncertain terms that the Euro, as a joint
currency of the Federation, would significantly slow down Yugoslavia's
integration into the European Union," said Predrag Drecun in connection
with the meeting in Podgorica, claiming that the European Union had no
sympathies for the Montenegrin Government's platform on the federation
of independent states. It was also impossible to find common language
regarding the customs union, which both the Serbian and federal
administration are advocating.
"This is totally unacceptable for Montenegro, because our customs
duties are very low and our economy totally open in which the services
account for 53 to 54 percent", explained Vukotic, Ph.D. This was how
Montenegrin Finance Minister Predrag Ivanisevic, also a member of the
Montenegrin expert team, explained the reasons why Montenegro could not
accept the reintroduction of the dinar and formation of a customs union
"In view of the structure of Montenegrin economy and its openness and
development priorities, we in Montenegro think that possible
harmonisation of customs rates and regime should be aimed at
establishing the lowest possible level, which is already the case in
Montenegro. Serbia needs to protect its economy with high rates, which
would be very unfavourable for Montenegrin economy and citizens, because
it would make imports more expensive and raise the prices. To put it
simply, this confirms that in view of differences in economic systems,
solutions and scope of reforms, as well as different development
priorities, the interest of Montenegro is to be a sovereign state or, a
sovereign state in alliance with Serbia and that our proposals are
closer to European practice and standards".
The Montenegrin delegation is not optimistic that the third round of
negotiations scheduled for January 9, in Belgrade would change much,
which is the opinion shared by other parties in favour of independent
Montenegro. Belgrade's reactions are also being recalled here, when the
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic (again) opposed the Montenegrin
proposal on the formation of a federation of two independent states -
Serbia and Montenegro, calling it hypocritical. Criticism that can be
heard in Montenegro regarding the composition of expert teams also
increases pessimistic prognoses.
"Talks conducted between Montenegro and Serbia serve no purpose and
cannot produce any scientifically valid result simply because, except
for the academician Mijat Sukovic, all experts of both sides for the
field of legal-political system are totally illegitimate because none of
them have scientific capacities for the mentioned field. Had the talks
been truly conducted at the level of experts for legal-political system,
their results would have had full scientific, and consequently, actual
legitimacy - because among true experts only one force is valid and that
is the force of argument. The official authorities should accept and
respect the option that has stronger arguments", said Blagota Mitric,
L.L.D, professor of the Podgorica Faculty of Law and until-recent
President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro.
It is interesting that even the pro-Yugoslav daily "The Day" (Dan) was
critical of the selection of experts that are supposed to find a
solution to long-ago disturbed relations within the Federation, i.e.
between Serbia and Montenegro. "In contrast to Milo Djukanovic, who has
sent to Belgrade 'negotiators' whose names enjoy professional
respectability, at least among the separatist bloc, Coalition "Together
for Yugoslavia", which has forced its way among negotiators through the
federal level, has not shown equal seriousness and responsibility. The
impression is that the leaders of this
coalition, as well as the FRY President Kostunica, have given up on
negotiations in advance and that everything has been organised in such a
way so as to show the providers of "good services" (the international
community, note of the author) that we are unable to agree. Then the
referendum will be inevitable".
It seems that not even the largest opposition party in Montenegro – the
pro-Yugoslav Socialist National Party (SNP) has any hope that experts
will manage to find a way to break the impasse, which the
Serbian-Montenegrin federation has fell into. But, its President,
Predrag Bulatovic announced:
"If in the next fifteen days or so it turns out that the negotiations
on the reorganisation of the federation are just a waste of time and
stalling, the SNP will initiate different forms of political activity
for the resolution of the over-emphasised state issue and will clearly
show who is the party stalling and obstructing the dialogue initiated by
the European Union", said Bulatovic, assessing that "the next year will
mark the resolution of state and political crisis in Montenegro".
How will this be achieved, Bulatovic did not say, but according to this
party a public opinion poll has recently shown that the option of a
joint state has prevailed with 53.5 percent. The SNP thinks that this is
why the Montenegrin authorities will give up the referendum on the state
status of Montenegro and will become reconciled with further joint life
of Montenegro and Serbia. However, The Democratic Party of Socialists
persistently claims that it is not giving up on the referendum.
"The next year will be the year of rebuilding Montenegrin statehood and
of establishing harmonious relations both within Montenegro, as well as
with Serbia and other neighbours" said the Montenegrin Prime Minister,
Filip Vujanovic at the New Year's cocktail organised in the Government
Will this remain just an appropriate New Year's wish or will it become
a reality? If the experts have their say - more likely the former. But,
Montenegrin politicians also do not arouse hope that they will soon put
their money where their mouth is when it comes to the sovereign state of