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CSIS: U.S. - Montenegrin Policy Forum

Published date: 21.06.2004 20:40 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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Eastern Europe Project · Center for Strategic and International Studies
1800 K Street, NW · Washington, DC 20006 · Tel: (202) 887-0200 · Fax: (202) 775-3199 ·


Janusz Bugajski

The final status of Montenegro and Serbia will be settled by early 2006 and decisions on the
timetable will be made during the coming year. The EU-imposed moratorium on independence
for either republic is due to expire in February 2006 and preparations will soon be made to move forward on statehood.
The termination of the EU-imposed Union state is the only realistic option in order for both
countries to concentrate on their domestic reforms and international relations. The last year has demonstrated that the S&M Union arrangement contributes little to economic progress, complicates decisionmaking, and hinders prospects for European Union (EU) and NATO membership. Rather than remaining tethered to each other, both Montenegro and Serbia must be permitted to pursue their integrationist directions at their own pace.
Given the likely creation of two new states, what should be Washingtons approach? Our
ultimate objectives in the region are fourfold: to ensure lasting security and stability, to promote
domestic political and economic reforms, to foster international cooperation against looming
security threats, and to move each state toward NATO and EU membership. Rather than
remaining fixated on federations and unions, it is time to acknowledge that only distinct and
legitimate states can achieve the four priority targets.
With Montenegro heading toward a referendum on independence, international players and
NATO governments should adopt a policy of active neutrality toward the aspiring Balkan
state. Such a policy would strictly avoid taking sides in the referendum campaign while providing any necessary election assistance in order to allow voters to freely decide on the status of their republic. A sense of ownership without outside pressure is essential in the creation of a functioning state.
A policy of political neutrality by Washington on final status will prevent any illusions or
resentments among the public over allegedly unfair international bias and interference. It could also help forestall any post-referendum conflicts, as the result will be deemed legitimate by international institutions. Active neutrality would contribute to making the referendum
campaign and the balloting an invaluable exercise in democratic decisionmaking.
EU and U.S. assistance in civic education, media professionalism, and referendum monitoring would demonstrate to Montenegrin citizens that their future lies in a democratic and expanding European community regardless of the precise status of their state. Additionally, the peaceful separation of Montenegro and Serbia could serve to enhance relations between Podgorica and Belgrade and the two capitals can provide a valuable example for cooperative political, economic, social, and security ties that may have positive reverberations throughout the Western

But independence will only be the first step for Montenegro in reestablishing its global identity and redefining its international focus. A great deal still needs to be accomplished for the aspiring country to join the track toward NATO and EU accession. A Stabilization and
Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU will be essential for economic and legal reform, and a Partnership for Peace (PfP) arrangement with NATO will be crucial for security and civil - military reforms.
International institutions will also need to bolster anti-crime and other security-focused regional initiatives in which Montenegro can be a major linchpin on the Adriatic coast.
The government in Podgorica has signaled that it seeks to be a more important player in various regional initiatives and its pro-Western credentials are not in dispute. And last but not least, the U.S.-Montenegrin relationship
can be strengthened not only through American assistance or Podgoricas fulfillment of the reformist agenda, but through concrete bilateral programs whether in intelligence sharing, crime fighting, military cooperation, or regional
initiatives. Montenegro can also become a more prominent business location for American companies and consumers especially in the sphere of tourism.
Some may argue that Montenegro is small and insignificant for U.S. policy, but this is a shortsighted and static approach. The bulk of Europe is made up of small countries, which can compensate for their size by their
commitment; which can counter their relative weakness by their contribution to regional and continental challenges; and which in totality can significantly promote the trans- Atlantic relationship. We neglect these contacts at our peril, because the United States needs friends and allies not only to secure Europe, but also to enhance its own security and
national interests.


In the most recent attempt to keep the fragile union of Serbia and Montenegro intact, the EU is considering pushing the two states to consolidate their intelligence services. The proposal envisions a joint institution that will
be in charge of processing and integrating classified information from the Serbian and Montenegrin police and military services.
Brussels main argument is that such a move would bolster the struggle against terrorism and organized crime in the country. The same reasoning might also find some support
in U.S., as American policymakers worry about regional and global security threats emanating from the troubled Balkan region.
However, the proposal is certain to generate even more tension between Serbia and Montenegro. One of the outcomes of the Belgrade Agreement was that each of the
two union states would be ensured sole jurisdiction over its own security issues. A reversal of that arrangement could be risky and could undermine the entire premise of the Union. The EUs new plan comes just one year after Montenegros government appointed on June 4, 2003 a national coordinator for human trafficking and Podgorica has since
intensified its work on the issues of organized crime and terrorist threats. Montenegros national coordinator, together with representatives from the Organization for
Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and several national and international non-governmental organizations,
sit on the Project Board, a body vested with the task of preventing human trafficking and protecting trafficking victims in the entire Balkan region. This initiative was one
of several significant steps that Montenegro has undertaken. In the last few months, the republic has adopted key legislation to combat crime, including the Criminal Code, Law on Criminal Procedure and the State Prosecutor Act. Although Montenegro also needs to further implement and enforce this legislation, it deserves recognition for its determination to deal with various threats to security in the
region. With these reforms in mind, the EU proposal for consolidating the intelligence services could actually harm Montenegro. Serbian efforts in curbing organized crime
have been inadequate, its security services are still staffed by many Miloševic-appointed officers, and the military is believed to be assisting General Ratko Mladic and preventing his extradition to The Hague on war crimes
charges. Allowing for the free exchange of classified and sensitive information between Serbia and Montenegro will not only create a large and sluggish bureaucracy, but could
actually undermine security in the region.
Montenegro has already shown its readiness to collaborate with other states in the region on anti-crime and antiterrorist initiatives. Instead of combining the security services of Serbia and Montenegro, or any other of the
Balkan countries, the EU and the U.S. would be better served by strengthening specific institutions and encouraging collaboration rather than advocating centralization.


Serbia will finally elect a president on June 13 and the international community is bracing for what could be a disastrous result. Serbias last three attempts to elect a presidentSeptember
2002, December 2002 and November 2003all failed due to low voter turnout. In those days, there was a provision in the electoral code requiring that 50 percent (plus one vote)
of the electorate actually cast their ballots. Now Serbian parliament has eliminated that provision, ensuring that Serbia will have a new president after this summers election.
One problem solved, another created: The international community now faces the strong possibility that a Serbian nationalist leader will emerge victorious at the polls, further
undermining the feasibility of the Montenegro-Serbia union, as Serbia could become an even bigger hindrance to Montenegros international integration. The presidential post is mainly ceremonial, but the election results will serve
as a mechanism to evaluate voters attitudes.
Recent polls show Serb ultranationalist Tomislav Nikolic from the Radical Party as the frontrunner in the presidential race. According to Radio Free Europe, last week Nikolic
stated that if elected he would immediately call for new parliamentary elections. This could further challenge Serbias political stability and reform program.
These trends, coupled with the Radical Partys strong finish in Serbias last election, suggest that come June 13 Serbia could once again send shockwaves through the delicate
political climate of the Balkansfurther isolating itself from the international community and from Montenegro.


At a high-level meeting of political leaders from
Southeastern Europe in Lucerne, Switzerland on May 21 - 22, 2004, Montenegro was praised for being a model multiethnic society. This recognition was voiced during a roundtable Albanians and Their Neighbors: Moving Toward Real Communication organized by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and by the Project on Ethnic Relations (PER), a U.S.based think tank.
The meeting brought together decisionmakers from Albania, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Switzerland, the European Union and the United States.
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Parliament Speaker Ranko Krivokapic, and Chairman of the Democratic Union of Albanians (DUA) Ferhat Dinosa represented Montenegro.
During the discussions, Montenegro was highlighted as a good example of progress toward a stable and integrated multiethnic society. DUA Chairman Ferhat Dinosa pointed
out that although much remains to be done with respect to the position of Albanians in Montenegro, there is determination to overcome the challenges and some
concrete achievements have become a reality. Prime Minister Djukanovic, stressing that minority rights are a regional concern, emphasized the need for a coordinated
message that efforts to establish and strengthen multiethnic communities in the region have to continue. The two-day conference in Lucerne was held one day after
Radio Free Europes (RFE) South Slavic Service reported on a conference supposedly held in Washington in late April on the Albanian minority situation in Montenegro.
The article stated that conference participants had forwarded a political platform to the U.S. Congress advocating that the three sub regions comprised of Albanian majorities within Montenegro should form a single Albanian ethnic region. The article also maintained
that the platform would soon be turned into a resolution and passed by the U.S. Congress regarding the regionalization of Montenegro. However, nobody on Capitol Hill is aware of any such resolution.
All that could be confirmed, however, was that a meeting on this issue was allegedly held in Washington in late April but was boycotted by all three leaders of Montenegros Albanian political parties. We are not going to attend this
meeting because, along with the invitation, the organizers sent us a draft of the Political Platform on the Status of
Albanians in Montenegro, the basis of which is
regionalization, said Ferhat Dinosa, chairman of the DUA for KosovaLive News Agency. He added that the proposal resembles Prime Minister Kostunicas plan regarding the
status of Serbs in Kosovo and both designs could have crave consequences.
The other two leaders of Albanian parties Mehmet Bardhi, chairman of Democratic Union of Montenegro and Osman Rexha, Party of Democratic Prosperity were also displeased that they were not given a chance to review the
document. The RFE South Slavic Service article incorrectly stated that the U.S. Congress is poised to pass a resolution regarding
the regionalization issue. None of the 28 members of the Congressional Albanian Caucus have sponsored such a resolution, but the rumor about it generated some confusion in Washington. It also created negative publicity
for Montenegro with respect to its minority issues, meanwhile shifting attention away from the positive recognition the republic was receiving in Lucerne, Switzerland.


According to recent polls, as many as 83 percent of Montenegrin citizens support the countrys accession to the European Union. But because the nation is beset with paralyzing EU accession policies, the journey is going to be
difficult. The EU has created a new playing field on which to bat around the issue of Montenegrin accession: the Feasibility Study. According to an EU Commission Staff paper on Serbia and Montenegro, this study looks into the possibility to open negotiations on a Stabilization and Association agreement thus clearing the way for possible EU integration. However, the study has actually further
substantiated the degree to which Serbia remains a hindrance to Montenegros participation in the European community.
Montenegros challenge has emerged as a classic Catch-22. The EU is considering only the possibility of welcoming an integrated Serbia and Montenegro into its ranks. In doing
so, the EU is unfairly using its powers to keep Montenegro bound to Serbia. And yet it is this very connection to Serbia that could ultimately prove Montenegros undoing with regard to EU membership. As one example, during a May 10-11 trip to Serbia and Montenegro, EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten identified Belgrades cooperation with The Hague
Tribunal for the prosecution of war criminals as a condition for continuing the Feasibility Study. However, Belgrades record on such cooperation leaves a lot to be desired.
This leaves Montenegro in a dilemma: The nations only chance for accession at present is following an EU action plan designed to merge economy and institutions with a troubled Serbia.


Following the May 28 killing of Duško Jovanovic, editor-inchief of the Podgorica-based DAN daily, Montenegrin government officials condemned the crime and affirmed their commitment to bring the perpetrators to justice. This is an attack on the peace and stability of Montenegro and a threat to the security of its citizens, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said in a statement.
A substantial investigation was launched and the
Montenegrin Minister of Interior urged his counterparts in France, Britain, Germany, and the United States to assist with the matter. German experts from the Institute for
Criminal Investigation are already inspecting some of the evidence found at the crime scene. The government also offered a reward of one million euros (1.2 million dollars)
for information that would lead to the arrest of the murderer.
Montenegros opposition Socialist Peoples Party (SNP) tried to gain political dividends out of the tragedy by calling for the governments resignation and early elections. The murdered journalist was known for his affiliation with the
SNP, which in the past was backed by former Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševic. Jovanovic was also charged by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague for revealing the
identity of a protected witness at the court.
Although the opposition is trying to politicize the killing, a government resignation is not the solution. Early elections would not only curtail the ongoing reforms undertaken by the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) led by
Prime Minister Djukanovic, but would also threaten both the internal stability and the international image of the republic.

The U.S.-Montenegrin Policy Forum Briefing is produced by the
CSIS Eastern Europe Project. The project director and editors
of this publication are Janusz Bugajski and Ilona Teleki.
Contributing editors include Milena Staneva and William
Sullivan. For more information, please contact the CSIS Eastern
Europe Project at or (202) 887-
0200 Ext. 3398.
CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all
views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication
should be understood to be solely those of the authors.
© 2004 The Center for Strategic and International Studies.