Montenegro and the Army of Yugoslavia: Closing of the CircleMontenegro Waiting for Denouement
MON, 20 MAR 2000
Podgorica, March 14, 2000 - Numerous preparations for the war have already been made, the only thing missing is the initial charge which could start the conflict. The VJ (Army of Yugoslavia) and MUP (Ministry of the Interior) members have already, on several occasions, aimed at each other. Last week's incident, when a bomb was thrown on the police station in Bijelo Polje which, fortunately, exploded on the parking lot without hurting anyone, attracts attention and brings back unpleasant memories of the past events in Croatia and Bosnia.
"We have time to wait, but shall remain active in the process". In his interview to the Belgrade weekly "Vreme" (Time), the Montenegrin Prime Minister, Filip Vujanovic, used these words to sum up the Montenegrin strategy of political showdown with Milosevic. One could say that the Montenegrin state leadership believes in its final victory and peaceful denouement of the crisis.
"As a state, Montenegro will give no cause for conflicts that could lead to riots", concluded Vujanovic. Recently, in Berlin, Milo Djukanovic, President of Montenegro gave similar promises.
Obviously, the official Podgorica is on the defensive. Nevertheless, it is clear to everyone that Montenegrin promises do not mean much: it takes two only for love - war games do not necessarily imply the agreement of all participants. And statements of Montenegrin officials are in no way binding for Milosevic. On the contrary: there are numerous indications that the war machinery is gaining momentum, this time in Montenegro.
Preparations for the "tightening of the circle around Montenegro" have started with the introduction of police-customs control on the Serbian - Montenegrin border, which is, currently, probably the most tightly sealed one in Europe. And even at the price of making a rod for its own back, the Serbian regime is preventing the monetary and commodity flow in an effort to thus weaken the opponent's position.
Calculations of the Serbian state enterprises (Carnex and PKB, for example) show that losses incurred by the prohibition of exports to Montenegro (but also to the Republic of Srpska and Macedonia, so as to prevent re-exportation of goods to Podgorica) can be expressed in millions of German marks.
The situation becomes more clear if we recall that only in Montenegro can these enterprises sell their produce at market prices which is why it is three times higher than in Serbia, where - rumour has it - everything is cheap, but cannot be found. Nevertheless, the Belgrade authorities do not care for such protests.
And since internal blockade proved inefficient, attempts at totally isolating Montenegro are more intensively resorted to. Every now and then, aided by the VJ, Belgrade demonstrates its power to close Montenegrin borders with foreign countries, for shorter or longer periods. These are either local airports, the port of Bar and border crossings to Albania, Croatia and the Republic of Srpska (B&H Federation). The only thing missing is a current counterpart to Radmila Andjelkovic and her SSRN RS (Socialist Alliance of the Working People of the Republic of Serbia) which would call upon the people and enterprises in Serbia to boycott the Montenegrin products, as she did with the Slovenian products back in 1990 when Milosevic was getting ready to bid his final farewell to Slovenia...
A logical continuation of the economic blockade would be the project of conquering the Montenegrin media space. The papers which are under Belgrade's control are losing influence in Montenegro. Not even the local daily "Dan "(The Day), which is under the direct control of the pro-Milosevic SNP of Montenegro, did not reach the desired circulation.
That is why, practically overnight, again with the assistance of the VJ which allowed the installation of the necessary equipment on its facilities, the "YU Info TV" started broadcasting. For the time being the programme of this TV station consists of rather inadequate news and partisan films, but no one has any doubts that the programme can be easily changed and adapted to the needs of the Belgrade authorities. Memories of the beginning of the war in Bosnia, when TV repeaters were the first target of Serbian para-military forces and the then JNA (Yugoslav People's Army), are warning enough.
An additional reason for Podgorica's concern is the fact that the authorities here have not been consulted about the establishment of the self-proclaimed "Federal TV", and even did not know anything about until it started broadcasting! The recognisable synopsis of conflicts was continued on the military plane. The Seventh Police Battalion, which the Montenegrin Prime Minister as well as General Momcilo Perisic, former VJ Chief of General Staff, call para-army, is a specific VJ unit in many respects. Not only because there is no other similar formation on the territory of Serbia. Namely, it is said that this unit is composed of exclusively party (SNP) members; it has exceeded the size of a battalion long ago and has grown into a brigade; its members are trained in sabotaging; they are paid much more than members of other VJ units of the same or higher rank...
In addition, according to Montenegrin officials, members of this unit are also some people with criminal record. Consequently, the Montenegrin MUP was prevented from sending to prison a man who was sentenced to prison for rape by a valid court ruling, because the accused has become a member of this unit. In the meantime, the Army of Yugoslavia is "building up" its ranks in Montenegro in many other ways. About two hundred officers of the Third Army, who were stationed in Kosovo during NATO intervention, have been transferred here. At the same time, according to unofficial information, there are frequent cases of the disappearance of large quantities of arms from army depots in the Northern Montenegro.
But, according to the same source, VJ did not open an investigation against alleged robbers and negligent guards, which is interpreted as a "rerun of the Knin recipe" of illegal arming of sympathisers. In other words, practically everything is ready, say pessimists with(out) reason. Only the initial charge is missing to start the conflict. Members of VJ and MUP Montenegro have already taken aim at each other on several occasions - at Debeli Brijeg border crossing, on the waterfront of the port of Bar, around Podgorica airport Golubovci...
Last week's incident, when a bomb was thrown on the police station in Bijelo Polje which, fortunately, exploded on the parking lot without hurting anyone, attracts attention. After the bomb attack, the police brought in two members of the Seventh Battalion who were found on the parking lot, but soon released them "for lack of evidence", After that the whole case was hushed up. Perhaps only until the next attack.