|An International Identity for Both Montenegro and Serbia |
An International Identity for Both Montenegro and Serbia
Source: Summary of the speech given by the President of Montenegro to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee. February 28, 2001.
"The Montenegrin people…has the democratic right to decide on its future," declared President Milo Djukanovic before the Foreign Affairs Committee this week. He set out a vision of an independent Montenegro which would have close ties to Serbia along the lines of the relationships between member states of the EU, with freedom of movement for peoples, goods and capital and a single convertible currency. Indeed, he declared, there were already "two functioning, virtually independent states" and to rationalise this situation was far more logical than seeking to resurrect the Yugoslav Federation which had failed. "We want separate houses with the same backyard, rather than two rooms in the same house", he stressed.
However, noted Mr Djukanovic, there were a number of significant obstacles in the way of this vision, most notably the apparent failure of the Kostunica government to recognise the Montenegrin case and for Belgrade to treat its smaller neighbour as "part of the Serbian ethnic corpus".and thereby deny its statehood. Mr Djukanovic warned that the "new Belgrade diplomacy was using international contacts to undermine the Montenegrin proposal" on independence. He recognised that the EU, too, did not support Montenegrin independence as it considered that this would destabilise the region. On the contrary, argued the President, independence would help stability in the Balkans as "today's Yugoslavia was Milosevic's last will and testament". An "artificial" union of the two states would be counterproductive and could promote instability. Indeed "forcing Montenegro, which is steadily treading a European road, to wait for the reform process to start in Serbia, would objectively be an anti-European act".
Mr Djukanovic contended that an independent Montenegro could indeed be viable, particularly as it enjoyed a strategic position on the Adriatic Sea. The next step was to hold early parliamentary elections on April 22 followed by a referendum on independence. The President noted that in 1992 only 10% of Montenegrins had favoured independence but the figure was now estimated at between 55% and 60%. The "genie was out of the bottle", he believed, and he was confident that the minority would accept the result. Eventually he looked to Montenegro joining the Euro and integrating into "European and trans-Atlantic structures".