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Monsters and - Djukanovic: ''Montenegro is Serbia's hostage''

Published date: 21.05.2006 12:39 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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By Thomas Brey,
May 21, 2006

Podgorica - Montenegro is Serbia's 'hostage,' Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in an interview ahead of Sunday's referendum on Montenegrin independence.

Explaining his drive for the dissolution of the union with its much larger sister republic, Djukanovic complained that, as Serbia's 'little sister', Montenegro was forced to 'share the consequences of things we have nothing do with.'

Brussels had recently delayed talks aimed at bringing Serbia and Montenegro closer to European Union membership because Belgrade did not arrest a wanted war crimes suspect - 'so we must take full responsibility for our European future into our own hands.'

After around eight years of pushing for sovereignty, Djukanovic's project will be put to the test on Sunday. He has repeatedly expressed optimism about securing a victory in the referendum, but promised to withdraw from politics if his side loses.

Montenegro has to divorce itself from Serbia to end Belgrade's 'continued hegemony in the region,' he said.

Despite the tragic results of Belgrade's nationalist projects in Croatia and Bosnia, 'today we unfortunately still hear the same arguments as in the early 1990s,' he said. 'Serbia still refuses to stop directing the life of its neighbours.'

He also flatly dismissed accusations that he needed a sovereign state in order to continue - without hindrance and with the protection of political immunity - running allegedly shadowy businesses.

Instead, he insisted he had made an 'offer' to the leader of the opposing, pro-union-with-Serbia bloc, Predrag Bulatovic: 'Let us renew the state together and I promise to step down a few days later.'

He would then no longer take part in future elections and would become a simple citizen, again in a bid to dispel the image that he is running a 'private state.'

Djukanovic added that, had he wanted to run shady businesses, 'it would have been better for me to remain in a joint state' with Serbia, when 'I could have remained premier for 100 more years.'

A separation would also do 'significant good for Serbia,' Djukanovic said. 'Then it will finally have to face itself ... and start tackling real problems, like economic and political reforms.'

Serbia's neighbours had vainly hoped that Belgrade would 'draw a lesson' from its catastrophic policy of the 1990s, he added.

Montenegro's departure from the union would force it finally to enter a period of self-examination, he said.

Djukanovic also rejected estimates that Montenegro, with just 620,000 inhabitants, may simply be too small to afford its own independence.

'Montenegro has financed itself in recent years,' he said, adding that it had also contributed 42 million euros (54 million dollars) per year to the budget of the union with Serbia.

The future sovereign Montenegrin state envisaged by Djukanovic would focus its diplomacy on a handful of crucial countries and have a small, 'representative' army.

According to rules agreed with the opposition under EU mediation, Montenegro will become independent if more than 55 per cent of the ballots cast are in favour of it. Anything less, and Montenegro remains with Serbia.

Djukanovic said he was expecting a 'clear-cut outcome' in favour of Montenegro's statehood.