Skip to comments.Montenegro is no one's junior partner
Posted on 05/03/2006 10:18:06 AM PDT by mark502inf
The bloody collapse of Yugoslavia shamed Europe. But those of us who live in the Balkans know particularly well that dismantling that artificial state involved a series of murderous ethnic and religious wars and cost at least 100,000 lives, while hundreds of thousands had to flee their homes. This is not to mention the physical devastation. Such appalling and widespread massacres and ethnic cleansing Europe had not seen since the defeat of Nazism.
There is, however, one positive story from those dreadful years. It involves my own small but fiercely proud multi-ethnic country, Montenegro, which was wiped off the map by the Allies after the first world war and forced to become part of the kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which was renamed Yugoslavia. Before that, Montenegro had taken pride in its 1,000-year history and its freedom-loving spirit, the only nation in the region not to have succumbed to Turkish rule during the Ottoman empire.
But today our inspiration for restoring statehood is not derived solely from national and historic sentiments. It is about the future. We want to take charge of our - European - destiny.
We Montenegrins, who hope to reclaim our national sovereignty and independence in a referendum this month and then accelerate accession talks with the European Union, have more recent reasons to be proud. We are the only one of the six former Yugoslav republics in which there was no war at the time of Yugoslavia's disintegration. Uniquely, we defied the evil that swept across Yugoslavia in the 1990s and stood up for all that is best in European culture. Our mixed population - Montenegrins, Serbs, Bosniaks, Muslims, Albanians and Croats - stood together throughout the horrors. We refused to join the madness and slaughter each other. We took in wave after wave of refugees from the killing fields across our borders, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. At times, refugees accounted for more than 20 per cent of our population.
You might have thought the EU would hold Montenegro up as an example to the region. Instead, it sometimes seems Montenegro is being punished by the rest of Europe for its generosity and self-restraint. When the wars ended, my country was the only one of the Yugoslav republics (Kosovo is a province of Serbia) not allowed by the international community to go its own way as an independent nation. Instead, under the Belgrade agreement of 2002, we consented - after overwhelming pressure from the EU - to stay in a kind of union with Serbia that is unknown in international practice. Consequently, we had to apply for membership of the EU as one nation.
So why was the EU so determined to force us to retain a link with Serbia that was disliked by most Montenegrins? Part of the problem, perhaps, was that Europe was preoccupied with the possibility of another bloody round of destabilising breakaways in the Balkans. Was the EU worried that an independent Montenegro would set a "bad example" to those in Kosovo who wanted independence from Serbia?
Whatever the reason, it is simply not fair to deny us our democratic and national rights in order to set an example to others. Luckily, the Belgrade agreement gave us a way out. It stipulated that after three years both Serbia and Montenegro could hold a referendum to decide whether these old Balkan and European states would head for Europe as independent nations just as the other Yugoslav republics did.
Montenegro decided to exercise this option and the vote will be held on May 21. Our decision did not please the EU, which last month imposed yet another condition on us. Our independence would not be recognised - and so talks on joining the EU would be impossible - unless at least 55 per cent of those voting endorsed independence. As prime minister, I protested that this was undemocratic. But I decided that we had no option but to accept it, convinced that a majority of Montenegrins is determined to enter the EU.
The alternative evidently preferred by the EU - for Montenegro and Serbia to attempt to join the EU as a single entity - has already been fraught with difficulties. To put it frankly, the choice is between Montenegro joining the EU as an independent, modern state with a clear sense of identity, or joining as the junior partner in an unbalanced, dysfunctional union with big brother Serbia, constantly fearful of losing our identity. The truth is that the imposed union between our two states does not work properly and its continued existence would delay the integration of both states into the EU.
Montenegro's economic record in the past three years is impressive. As an independent Balkan state within the EU, we can rapidly become one of the most developed nations in the region. So, within a few weeks, I believeMontenegro will become a sovereign state, ready, willing and able to take its rightful place in the EU.
If a substantial majority of my fellow countrymen and women vote for independence, do not take this as a sign that we are small-minded, inward-looking, Balkan nationalists. We have proved we are not. Instead, accept the result of the referendum as a welcome victory for democracy, tolerance and, above all, for European values.
The writer is prime minister of Montenegro
bingo.....they want a Greater Albania which equal a Mafia state, and I'm afraid supported by us. Second, we also have our eye on the two pipelines coming thru the Balkans. Another long story short.........So, do you think maybe he is just a little pro-Mafia.....:)
That was Tito's plan after all. Yugoslav encyclopedia from the late 1950's lists Montenegrins as one of the "constituent people's" of the (then) People's federative Republic of Yugoslavia (FNRY), of "Serbian origin."
The encyclopedia "scientifically" explains that in the process of struggling against the Nazi occupiers, the Montenegrins somehow "evolved" into a separate "ethnic" group, acquiring a separate national entity.
Communists were not the only ones exploiting this "nationalism." Italy had good reasons to seek support among Montenegrin chieftains, and so the the Croatian fascist regime, the Pavelic's Ustashas.
Montenegrin nationalists have a 'science" of their own -- although not recognized in any academic institution in the world. They claim they are actually Baltic people, unrelated to Serbs, who arrived in the area, a century before the Serbs did.
Given that there are only a handful of Montenegrin in the world, enough to fit into a mid-size American city (600,000 or so), one must wonder how big of a tribe of these Baltics was, given that Djukanovich is blabbering something about 1,000 years old Montenegrin history (whatever that means). At the average natality rate, I would say, the tribe must have been about 5 "Montenegrins" in all!
There is no doubt that many people in MOntenegro "feel" they are Montenegrin and Serbs, but in most cases it is the way Texans feel they are Texans and Americans. There are those who for various reasons want to see Montenegro and independent country and nation and so on -- they hide their personal ambitions behind false national and ethnic theories.
And they count on people like you to help them spread or at least dignify their cheap propaganda, portraying criminals like Djukanovich, a sly politician, as heroic and brave individuals who stood up against Serbian "oppression."
Anyone who knows history a even a little, and who is not blinded by serbophobia will recognize that Serbian and Montenergin history and statehoods is so intertwined that one would not exist without the other. For your information, Communist Yugoslavia did not allow Montenegrins to declare themselves as Serbs or as Serbs and Montenegrins. The Serbs who were officially recognized in Montenegro as Serbs were Serbians who moved there or who had direct ties with Serbia.
Until 1991, there were officially only 8% Serbs living in Montenegro. Today there are 32%. The last census allowed Montenegrins to declare themselves Serbs and Montenegrins as well, which accounts for the increase. If the census ballots were properly worded and people properly instructed in history without revisionism, the reality would be 100%.
Absolutely spot on. Djukanovic is exploiting the communist version of history in order to bolster his position of power, in this sense, he is no better than Milosevic but yet Mark, just like Djukanovic and Milosevic, was also quick to exploit such a situation of an artificially created paranoia for his own agenda.
Book marked for prosperity.
Tom, your post is a nicely condensed synopsis of the situation there.
thanks....so now what do we do before the independence is achieved? There are strong forces at work right now to thwart the independence bid.......
Not much we personally can do except make sure that the truth doesn't die.
You and I both know that is true!
the kurds of kurdistan/southern kurd- i.e Northern Iraq shuld have the same rights as well as in Turkey and Iran, don't you agree?
Sorry, for taking so long to get back to you. The common ethnic heritage of what today are the peoples of the separate entities of Serbia and Montenegro is well known. But that is not the issue. The issue is the case for Montenegrin independence. Historically, Montenegro was an independent kingdom right up through the end of WWI and it was a separate republic of Yugoslavia (under its various names) for much of the time since them. Demographically, many of the people now living there self-identify themselves as Montenegrins, not Serbs. Legally, the upcoming referendum on independence is an action conducted in consonance with the agreement with which Serbia and Montenegro are joined. Internationally, there is agreement to recognize the results of the referendum. In sum, there is no reason why Montenegro should not be independent if that is what the people want. And we will know the answer to that in a couple days.
Serbs inside of Serbia have always been identified as Serbians, and not as Serbs. Only recently, due to incredible illiteracy and western media infuence, have the two been "fused" into one.
King Nikola I of Montenegro used to say: All Montenegrins are Serbs, but not all Serbs are Montenegrins. In other words: all Texans are Americans, but not all Americans are Texans.
If this were the case, if the Montenegrins simply wanted back their statehood, a separate Serb state, to which they have every right, and to which their Petrovich family dynastic heir is entitled, that would be one thing. One could make a case for it. I would imagine that one could make a case for California or Texas to become separate countries too. I would have no problem with either.
The problem is that Montenegro is being re-created on a lie that Montenegrins are not Serbs, but some unknown ethnic people, and this referendum will legitimize such lie (to the detriment of Montenegrins in the long run).
Tito's communists insisted that Montenegrins were not Serbs on some Bolshevik pseudo-science and with a clear agenda to atomize Serbs. All the census estimates of Montenegro's ethnic makeup after WWII strictly forbade people born in Montenegro to identify as Serbs. Thus earlier ones show 80-90% "Montenegrins" and 6-8% Serb(ian)s. This number has been steadily dropping since 1990 when it was again "okay" to be both a Serb and a Montenegrin.
Even then, the nature of census questions were such that they made choices difficult. First, by substituting the the name Serb for Serbian, many a Montenergin would have difficulty choosing because they are not Serbians. When they were allowed to declare themselves as Serbs in 2003, the number of Serbs in Montenegro in 1990 miraculously rose from 8% to 32% and "Montenegrins" (by "nationality) dropped from 90% in the 1950's to mere 43%.
What happened is that despite all the lies of Tito's Serb-hating regime that were used to raise generations to believe in some sort of "Montenegrin" ethnic entity, it was a colossal failure, although a good portion of the Montenergin Serbs for one reason or another today believe they are not Serbs, even though all their prominent ancestors identified as Serbs! (it tells me much about an average Montenegrin's educational level)
The vote on Sunday will probably succeed because, in addition to 43% of "Montenergins", there will be 5% of Albanians who will vote for independence for obvious reasons, and about half the Bosnian Muslims, or about 4% in total. So one can count on a 52% majority to vote for independence, thus legitimizing a lie.
Any hope that nearly half the Montenegrins living in Serbia will travel to Montenegro to vote against independence will probably fail despite free transport offered them. Their notoriety as rather "laid back" maye be stronger than their desire to keep the country undivided. Only those who stand to lose benefits (such as free education) may go to vote. Others will simply ask for Serbian citizenship and stay put. The economic and political consequences for Montenegro (which is useless in the former sphere), however, will be enormous. Soon, the intoxication of independence will wear off and the reality will set in. All in due time.
(Denny Crane: "Every one should carry a gun strapped to their waist. We need more - not less guns.")
Well, while some of the people may vote based on that factor, there are many other influences that seem just as or more important: a separate history as an independent nation, the sense that they are in an unequal partnership with much bigger Serbia, the idea that they can more quickly get into the EU if they are not part of Serbia, and the idea that Serbia's difficulty in dealing with the war-criminal issue and resultant problems with the US & the rest of the international community is undeservedly holding Montenegro back both economically and politically.
In any event, let's hope the vote either is over 55% or under 50%. If it falls in the gray area in-between, we will have yet another thorny Balkan issue.
Sounds like the UNMIK guys guarding the Christian Churches are starting to slow you down a bit.
The history of Texas as a sovereign country apart from the US did not stop it from joining the the US. Montenegro citizens voted after WWI to unite with Serbia -- this was and is the dream of all Serb people and that will exist as long as the Serbs exist, traitors and mercenaries notwithstanding. So, we can throw out that "theory" of yours.
They are an unequal partner in everything except having equal positions in government regulated by the Constitution in order to "make up" for their tiny size. The rule was that if the PM is Serbian, the President would be a Montenegrin, etc.
In order to demand equality, one has to make equal contribution. One of the excuses the US gives to the UN when it uses heavy-handed tactics of pressuring the UN is that the US gives above and beyond what other countries give to the UN and therefore has the right to demand concessions and privileges. Nothing like this exits between Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia gives/gave Montenegro disproportionately, to be sure, so if there is any inequality it is on the Serbian side. Out with that "theory" of yours too.
Montenegro has no chance of being accepted by the EU because, among other things, PM Milo Djukaovich has a warrant for his arrest in Italy for cigarette profiteering when he was buddy-buddy with Miloshevic. Montenegro has nothing to offer the EU that it fifn't offer Serbia &;#E151; which is nothing. Montenegro has nothing, never did and never will, except a small portion of the Adriatic which survives thanks to Serbian tourism! Germans and Scandinavians come to Croatia and Greece. Out with this joke as well.
War criminals? Djukanovich is certainly one or should be on the list, bt he is too buddy buddy with us to take any heat. So, now in order to win the popular vote of the world which distinctly dislikes America nowadays, New England shoud use that as an excuse to secede? Secession and union cannot change with each regime change. Otherwise countries would be falling apart as fats as they were formed.
The US has been helping Montenegro's banana republic leadership left and right, even during the NATO agression, and fostered its independence as a counterbalance and isolation of Serbia. Old tried tactics, Mark. Your arguments simply hold no water. You have no clue what you are talking about. You are just parroting official truth from various American media and government apparatchiks.
Read up on the subject next time, and try to know what you are talking about. Montenegro is an economic premature birth. It has been living off of Serbia for the past sinc 1918. It will continue to live off of American "donations" while it serves a useful role, and then it will be dumped like all vassal states get dumped when their usefulness is used up.
Montenegro cannot sustain itself form its own toil and soil. The myth that the Turks never conquered is just that, a myth. The Turks incorporated all of Montenegro into the Ottman Empire in 1499, but gave it up as a "dark vilayet" a hell hole because nothing except poison ivy grows there over most of its territory. Still, arable parts and coastline were Turkish.
Montenegrins have often forgotten that the Turks came rolling over all of it territory and routing its pricky haiduks and rebels whenever they chose to. Montenegrins remeber only their victories, never their numerous defeats, but don't tell them.
The impassible mountains were left to the tribes (I mean that literally, that's how they refer to themselves, and their last names come from individual tribes).
Hertzegovina Serbs in Bosnia speak the same dialect, to the tee, as the Montengrins do and they have always considered themselves Serbs. For the record, Italian Fascists, Nazi Germans and Croatian fascists (Ustashas), Yugoslav Communists and now the "international community" have favored "ethnic" Montenegrins. Nice company to keep. Djukanivich can proudly consider himself a member of America's favorite club along with Pinochet, Papa Doc, Gen. Noriega, various South Korean dictators, various Arab princes, and so on. Bastards, maybe, "but they are our bastards" to paraphrase Pres. Roosevelt's famous statement.
Serbia had nothing to gain from Montenegro, just as often our siblings are of no particular use to us, but we stick together because we are family and because Montenegrins make up in their lack of productivity in toil and in poverty of their soil with richness of character, poetry and spirit. They became the guardians and caretakers of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchy when the Turks routed Serbs from Kosovo in the 18th century following the Austro-Turkish war. They gave us many prominent figures, some good some not so good. They stood with the rest of the Serbs and died with the rest of them, when the enemy came knocking on the doors.
Today, foreign interests won. Foreigers come and go. And leave their garbage.
Well, Kosta, it looks like over 55% of the people actually living in Montenegro disagree with you.
It has been living off of Serbia for the past sinc 1918. It will continue to live off of American "donations" while it serves a useful role, and then it will be dumped like all vassal states get dumped when their usefulness is used up....Montenegro has nothing, never did and never will...Montenegrins remeber only their victories, never their numerous defeats, but don't tell them ... Serbia had nothing to gain from Montenegro, just as often our siblings are of no particular use to us ...
Wow. No wonder the Montenegrins wanted to get away.
Today, foreign interests won. Foreigers come and go. And leave their garbage.
Foreigners didn't vote yesterday. It was the people of Montenegro who chose independence.
Hitler was also a product of a democratic election.
Wow. No wonder the Montenegrins wanted to get away.
You left out the other half which explains why they didn't.
Foreigners didn't vote yesterday. It was the people of Montenegro who chose independence
Actually, Montenegrins didn't win. Some Montenergings (a minority) with ethnic Albanians, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims, did. No matter how you turn it around -- the foreign, anti-Serb minorities there tipped the scale.
And therein is the problem. The people you are referring to are citizens, not "foreign". And does wanting to be left alone to run their own affairs make them "anti-Serb"? Albanians, Croats, and Slavic Muslims have lived in Montenegro for centuries. Yet to you--a Serb--they are "foreign." Kosta, have you ever considered that perhaps that attitude is a reason why the Serbs have had problems with all their neighbors from the former Yugoslavia, Slav or non-Slav, Christian or non-Christian?