- Representatives of the ruling parties of Serbia and Montenegro
met in Belgrade Wednesday, in the first official talks in more than a year
between the two regimes which comprise the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
- The meeting was demanded by Montenegrin President Milo
Djukanovic to begin a drastic restructuring of the federal state, or set
the stage for secession by Montenegro, the last of the republics of the
former Yugoslavia still associated with Serbia.
- Among the concessions sought by Djukanovic are Belgrade's
agreement to Montenegrin control of Yugoslav Army units in Montenegro,
as well as a separate and internationally convertible currency and other
measures which will effectively separate the Montenegrin economy from that
of Serbia. If Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic rejects these proposals,
as is expected, Montenegrin officials have threatened to hold a referendum
on secession some time in the fall.
- The pressure for independence for Montenegro comes not
so much from the province's population, which is overwhelmingly Serbian,
as from the United States and its European NATO allies, who see separation
of Montenegro from Serbia as another, and potentially fatal, blow against
the Milosevic regime.
- Secession of Montenegro would deprive Serbia of its sole
outlet to the Adriatic Sea. The bulk of Serbia's prewar oil supplies came
by tanker through Montenegro. Without the small republic"its population
is only 615,000 compared to Serbia's 10 million"Serbia is landlocked,
and surrounded by neighboring states which are either openly hostile (Croatia,
Bosnia and Albania), members of NATO (Hungary), occupied by NATO (Kosovo
and Macedonia) or candidates to join NATO (Romania and Bulgaria).
- It is for precisely this reason that the United States
has sought to foment a movement for the independence of Montenegro for
the last few years, at least since the election of Djukanovic in 1997 over
a candidate backed by Milosevic. Washington sees Montenegro as the last
link in the chain required to complete the economic blockade imposed on
Belgrade during the Bosnian civil war and maintained in one form or another
- Djukanovic has moved more and more openly into the role
of an American puppet. He tacitly sided with NATO during the Kosovo war,
although he was careful to avoid direct conflict with the 40,000 Yugoslav
Army troops stationed in Montenegro. NATO warplanes carried out few air
strikes within the republic, leaving it relatively undamaged compared to
- On May 26, with the bombing at its peak, the Montenegrin
government called for all Yugoslav Army troops in the republic to be withdrawn
or turned over to its control, a demand summarily rejected by the army
commanders. But as most army reservists have been demobilized and sent
home after Belgrade's surrender to the NATO bombing campaign, the total
number of federal troops in Montenegro has declined to 15,000"far
fewer than the enormous NATO force being built up just to the south in
- US President Bill Clinton has invited Djukanovic to a
summit of European leaders to be held July 28 in Sarajevo, to discuss reconstruction
in Bosnia and elsewhere in the Balkans. Serb and Yugoslav federal officials
are barred from this meeting.
- The only external factor which could retard a breakaway
by Montenegro is the intensifying rivalry between the United States and
Germany over control of the various fragments of the former Yugoslavia.
The economic platform being drafted by the Djukanovic government would
create, not an independent Montenegro, but an economic colony of Germany.
- According to Veselin Vukotic, an economics professor
at the University of Montenero who worked on the platform and discussed
it with the British business newspaper the Financial Times, the plan is
to establish a new currency, a convertible dinar, backed by a currency
board"an entity which would be controlled by international lenders,
not the Montenegrin government, to ensure currency stability. A subsidy
of 400 million deutsche marks would be provided to keep the dinar at one-to-one
parity with the German currency.
- Other parts of the plan, the Financial Times said, include
"accelerated privatization, deregulation, protection of private property
rights, equal treatment for foreign investors, and the establishment of
a foreign trade regime open to world markets.
- Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said the economic program
would be adopted by his government by the end of July and then forwarded
to Belgrade for ratification. If Milosevic vetoes the plan, this will provide
an additional pretext for the plebiscite on secession from Yugoslavia.
- The preparation of American public opinion for the next
stage in the US-sponsored dismemberment of Yugoslavia is well under way.
Most significant in this regard is the article by Christopher Hedges published
July 10 on the front page of the New York Times.
- Hedges describes military preparations by Montenegrin
officials for a confrontation with the Yugoslav Army. He quotes a number
of violently anti-Serb statements from representatives of Montenegrin nationalism,
to give the impression that the province is seething with hatred of Serbs
and the desire to break with them.
- What is concealed in this distortion of reality is the
simple fact that Montenegrins are Serbs, speaking the same language and
sharing the same cultural, religious and historical traditions. While there
is undoubted popular hostility to the Milosevic regime in Montenegro, that
is true in Serbia as well. It is the intervention of the imperialist powers,
and especially the United States, which seeks to turn this popular anger
in the direction of secession.
- To say that Montenegro is not viable as an independent
country is an understatement. It has about the same area as Kosovo, but
only one third the population, and much less fertile land and industrial
development. The province's name - it means literally "Black Mountain"describes
- In seeking to use Montenegro to cut off Serbia from access
to the sea, the Clinton administration is following in well-worn historical
footsteps. This was the policy pursued throughout the nineteenth century
by the Habsburg Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Germany of Prince Bismarck.
The Habsburgs were particularly fearful that independent Serbia would become
a magnet for oppressed south Slav peoples, and insisted on erecting both
an independent Albania and an independent Montenegro to keep Serbia landlocked,
small and weak.
- The example of Montenegro demonstrates the real thrust
of imperialist policy in the Balkans. Far from being concerned with preventing
ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity, the US and NATO have overseen
a process in which the former multiethnic Yugoslavia has been converted,
piece by piece, into a series of weak, ethnically homogeneous statelets,
each of them completely dependent on the imperialist powers both economically