Montenegro in TransitionProblems of Identity and Statehood by Florian Bieber (ed.)
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Preface Florian Bieber Montenegrin politics since the disintegration of Yugoslavia The dispute over Montenegrin independence The Belgrade Agreement: Robust mediation between Serbia and Montenegro Who are Montenegrins? Statehood, identity, and civic society A short review of the history of Montenegro The economic development of Montenegro National minorities in Montenegro after the break-up of Yugoslavia
7 11 43
Beta Huszka Wim van Meurs
83 107 139
erbo RastoderDragan uri Frantiek stek Bohdana Dimitrovov The authors Bibliography
159 181 183
PrefaceMontenegro has been a much-neglected part of the former Yugoslavia. Few books and articles, and only occasional media coverage, have marked this probably least-known republic of the former Yugoslavia in the western perception. 1 Responsible for this has been its small size (less than 700 000 people) and that Montenegro has been spared of war (the only republic of former Yugoslavia to have avoided conflict). The current volume is not written in anticipation of conflict, but is rather aimed at filling an important gap in understanding former Yugoslavia during the past decade. It is exactly the absence of conflict in Montenegro which means that Montenegro merits more, rather than less, attention. One of the underlying threads of this book is the attempt to understand why Montenegro has been spared of the wars which devastated large parts of the former Yugoslavia. The answer is not simple. In the early 1990s, Montenegro supported the Serbian governments war aims in Croatia and Bosnia; it was thus an accomplice (albeit partly unwilling) to the crimes committed in its western neighbours. At the same time, a strong anti-war movement, which rejected the extreme Serbian nationalism of the early 1990s, also existed. Later, Montenegro broke with Serbia only shortly before Serbia became immersed in the Kosovo war, engaging in the large-scale expulsion of Albanians and experiencing NATO bombing. There is, however, more than a collection of lucky circumstances to explain why Montenegro has evaded war. Considerably better inter-ethnic relations have prevented an escalation of majority-minority relations, which would have been conducive to conflict or war, as Frantiek stek and Bohdana Dimitrovov explain in their chapter on minorities. In addition, national homogenisation the process in which the different nations of former Yugoslavia were mobilised by the political elites to put national interests before all other concerns was only partially successful in Montenegro. Montenegro has seen competition between two national identities during the past decade, reflecting an earlier division among the inhabitants of Montenegro as exemplified in erbo Rastoders survey of Montenegrin history. The dispute between Serbian and Montenegrin national identity was, essentially, a conflict over who Montenegrins are, a question posed by Sra Pavlovi in his chapter on identity. This debate is far from being resolved and, as such, it has confronted the majority population with each other during the 1990s, rather than against the other, as happened elsewhere in former Yugoslavia. The debates over identity were themselves deeply political in nature, shaping party choices and informing the preference for the kind of state in which the citizens of Montenegro wanted to live. The issue of independence and secession from Yugoslavia was certain in the other republics of former Yugoslavia, at least among the dominant population group, but Montenegro was the exception. In the first half of the 1990s, a clear majority of Montenegrins supported a joint state with Serbia. Only in the second half of the past decade has public opinion begun to turn in favour of independence. Throughout this pe1 The Library of Congress and Amazon list only a handful of books published on Montenegro since 1990. The same can be said for French or German language publications.
riod, however, there has been no clear majority for either choice. Montenegrins are deeply divided over which state will best represent their interests. In addition to identity, the debates over the Republics status have been considerably informed by economic considerations, as Beta Huszka explores in her chapter on the dispute over Montenegrin independence in recent times. In addition to the intra-Montenegrin debates over relations with Serbia, the process of redefining ties with Serbia have shaped Yugoslav and Montenegrin politics. The agreement reached in March 2002 through European Union mediation and pressure has put an end to Yugoslavia and has established Serbia and Montenegro as a (possibly) temporary solution. As Wim van Meurs explains, the Belgrade Agreement has the potential to transform relations between the two republics; at the same time, it might also be a mere stopgap before Montenegro achieves independence after the three-year moratorium contained in the Agreement. The debates over Montenegros status have been the primary political issue for years while not being the most important concern for most Montenegrins. A number of opinion polls over the past few years have repeatedly shown that the economy and jobs are by far the most important issues. 2 In fact, the anti-bureaucratic revolution in 1988/9, which brought to power a new pro-Serb leadership, was motivated not only by nationalism but also as much by economic concerns. As one of the less-developed and poorer republics of Yugoslavia, the precarious economic position of Montenegro has been a continuous issue. Milo ukanovi sidelined the conservative forces within his ruling party in 1997 by engaging in the rhetoric of reform. In the process, some steps towards the transformation of the economy and society have been made. Nevertheless, as Dragan uri analyses in his chapter on the economic and social situation facing Montenegro, the reforms have exhausted themselves largely in rhetoric and have failed to bring about the desired improvement in citizens quality of life. 3 The elections of October 2002 signalled continuity with the sustained success of the Democratic Party of Socialists in power without interruption since the end of communism and the stable and nearly even division of Montenegrin society into the supporters and the opponents of independence. More than ten years since the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Montenegro is both lucky and unfortunate. It is lucky because it has avoided war and has not seen inter-ethnic relations poisoned by ethno-nationalist mobilization as elsewhere in former Yugoslavia. It is unfortunate because its economic and social situation leaves it in a precarious position, with not much chance for improvement in the short or the medium term, irrespective of whether Montenegro is independent or remains part of a union with Serbia. It is also unfortunate because the political divide over status vis--vis Serbia has papered over other, more pragmatic, divisions in the political system, making reforms more difficult to ac2 See opinion polls by CEDEM, CfT and NDI. In March 2001, for example, during the election campaign and in the midst of bitter discussions on independence, 49% of those surveyed listed the economy as the most important issue while only one-third mentioned the status question. When combining first and second priorities, the distance increases to 87% to 52%. See NDI: Economy is Most Important Issue for Prospective Voters in Montenegro, Podgorica, 28.3.2001. 3 In 2002, over 80% live on the edge of subsistence while 20% live in poverty. See Senko Cabarkapa: ukanovi Seeks Another Chance, IWPR Balkan Crisis Report 17.10.2002.
complish. In fact, this deadlock might have been both Montenegros reason for avoiding conflict and also its reason for the particularly difficult road towards democratisation and economic transition.Acknowledgements I would like to thank the editors of the South-East Europe Review , Peter Scherrer and Calvin Allen, for supporting this project and making possible this timely production. Thanks are also due to Ivana Prazi for translating into English the historical review by erbo Rastoder.
Montenegrin politics since the disintegration of YugoslaviaIntroduction Montenegrin politics, unlike those of most of the other former Yugoslav republics, has been a story of continuity throughout the 1990s. In the absence of war, Montenegro has experienced few radical breaks. The most important break was arguably the fallout of Milo ukanovi with Slobodan Milo evi and Momir Bulatovi in 1997, which ushered in a period of political re-orientation towards the west and a democratisation of political life through the disintegration of the dominant Democratic Party of Socialists (Demokratska partija socijalista , DPS). This turning-point, as this chapter will argue, was nevertheless embedded in a gradual process of continuous alienation between Montenegro and Serbia, beginning in 1991, and a reflection of the inner-Montenegrin divide over relations with Serbia which informed the political agenda of the 1990s. An examination of political developments in Montenegro is not only relevant because Montenegro has been largely neglected in comparison to that of the other successor states of former Yugoslavia. That no war occurred in Montenegro, and that it remained as the only former Yugoslav republic in a joint state with Serbia, have made Montenegro an exception worth examining more closely. The politics of identity informed political discourse in a similar fashion to the other countries of former Yugoslavia, but the debates of identity and statehood pitted not majority against minority, but split the majority population in an unresolved debate over Montenegrin national identity and the state in which to live. This chapter will trace chronologically the evolution of key political developments, beginning with the anti-bureaucratic revolution, which brought the Communist era to an end, and closing with the creation of the (temporary) union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2002. This discussion is shaped by four threads: the relationship between the government of Montenegro on the one side and of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the other internal debates over Montenegrin identity and the relationship towards Serbia the process of democratisation in a political system which has, to date, not seen a change of government through elections the role Montenegro played in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, as well as the impact of the war in Kosovo. From one one-party rule to another: the anti-bureaucratic revolution Montenegro under Communist rule was, together with Bosnia and Macedonia, one of the less developed republics. Its small size, approximately one-third of the next largest republic, made Montenegro a particular case. Arguably, the Republic has been peripheral in postwar Yugoslavia and did not possess the same weight in inter-republican debates as, for example, did Croatia, Slovenia or Serbia. Caught in the ambiguities of Montenegrin identity, the Republic was both the homeland of the Montenegrin people while, at the same time, a significant share of Montenegrins identified themselves as Serbs. 1 The nationalist revival of the late 1960s and early 1970s in Yugoslavia also affected Montenegro. In Montenegro,11
however, it expressed itself rather as Serbian nationalism 2 than as a distinct Montenegrin nationalism. This would find its explicit expression only considerably later.Table 1 Shifting population of Montenegro1981 No. Montenegrins Muslims Serbs Albanians Yugoslavs Croats Roma Total Population Census (1981,400 488 78 080 19 407 37 735 31 243 6 904 1 471 584 310
1991 %68.5 13.4 3.3 6.5 5.3 1.2 0.3
No.380 467 89 614 57 453 40 415 26 159 6 244 3 282 615 035
%61.9 14.6 9.3 6.6 4.3 1.0 0.5
Yugoslavia developed into a decentralised federation during the 1960s and 1970s, and Montenegro participated in the debates over the redistribution of resources within Yugoslavia together with the other lesser-developed republics which profited from the Federal Fund for the Development of the Under-developed Republics (FARDUK, 1964-1990). 4 Montenegros participation in these discussions and the:Recurring struggle over the redistribution of income necessitated an articulation and defense of a specific Montenegrin interest which in turn regularly reinforced a sense of a specific Montenegrin identity.5
The response to the earthquake in 1979, which devastated parts of the Montenegrin coast, including Kotor and Budva, is a case in point. Montenegro was excluded from the inter-republican debates over compensation. The final aid package was considerably smaller than hoped for: Slovenia and Croatia had argued for more aid, while Serbia kept support to a minimum. Given that Serbia was deemed responsible for the lower than expected quantity of aid, it strengthened the more anti-Serb wing within the Montenegrin leadership. 61 On the issue of Montenegrin identity, see Sra Pavlovi: Who are Montenegrins? this volume. 2 Sabrina Petra Ramet: Nationalism and Federalism in Yugoslavia. 1962-1991, 2nd Ed. (Bloomington, In.: Indiana University Press, 1992), p. 116; Marko Andrijevich: Politics in Montenegro, in Sabrina Petra Ramet and L.S. Adamovich (eds.): Beyond Yugoslavia: Politics, Economics and Culture in a Shattered Community (Boulder, Co.: Westview, 1995), p. 210. 3 Source: Federal Statistical Office. The number of Roma is almost certainly higher than official numbers indicate. 4 Ramet: Nationalism and Federalism, pp. 150-158. 5 John B. Allcock: Montenegro, in David Turnock and Francis W. Carter (eds.): The States of Eastern Europe. South-Eastern Europe, Vol. 2 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), p. 185. 6 Ramet: Nationalism and Federalism, p. 160.
Montenegrin politics since the disintegration of Yugoslavia
The most pressing problem o...