Meeting of Montenegrin parties in Power and Serbian opposition

Sveti Stefan (dis)agreement


TUE, 18 JUL 2000

Podgorica, July 15, 2000 - Meeting of representatives of Montenegrin ruling parties and Serbian opposition showed that dialogue was possible even when viewpoints were not identical. But, except for general agreement and joint statements, the meeting in Sveti Stefan will hardly have any significant influence on the future of Serbian-Montenegrin relations.

"Man, it's not easy to organize all this, to serve them so everybody is satisfied", a waiter grumbled at Sveti Stefan, removing glasses and coffee cups in a hurry from the table at which just a few moments before talks ended between Vujanovic and Marovic on the one and parts of Serbian opposition on the other side. This was the fourth meeting in a row in the course of one-day talks of the leaders of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the People's Party (NS) with the leaders of numerous Serbian opposition parties.

During eight hours, the two delegations of DPS and NS had several separate talks. The talks with the Montenegrin party started with representatives of the Serb Revival Movement (SPO) - Milan Komnenic, Vojislav Mihailovic and Milan Mikovic, leaders of DAN coalition Nebojsa Covic and Dusan Mihajlovic, president of Movement for Democratic Serbia Momcilo Perisic, and president of Social Democracy Vuk Obradovic, and Voivodina coalition Dragan Veselinov. After the first "round", Svetozar Marovic, Zeljko Sturanovic, Predrag Drecun and Savo Djurdjevac received representatives of the League for Changes Zoran Djindjic, Vladan Batic, Goran Svilanovic and Milan St. Protic, along with two representatives of Otpor movement. After this first, numerous delegation, talks continued with the parties gathered in the League of Democratic Parties, president of Social Democratic Union Zarko Korac, and leader of Sandzak coalition Rasim Ljajic, representatives of the League of Voivodina Hungarians Istvan Pastor and Sandor Egeresi. Finally, the talks were joined by Vojislav Kostunica leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia and Momcilo Trajkovic from the Serb Resistance Movement from Kosovo. Nobody explained why separate talks had been necessary: whether this had been the plan of the Montenegrin party or a demand of Serbian opposition which, as known, is not united concerning all questions of strategy of the struggle against Milosevic.

“As if they were discussing a new treaty of San Stefano”, noted ironically one of the numerous journalists who spent hours in front of the stone walls of the ancient sea-side town-hotel waiting for the joint statement. Finally, around five o’clock in the afternoon, Filip Vujanovic, Montenegrin prime minister and one of the leaders of DPS, read the joint statement.

“Participants of the negotiations on Constitutional reconstruction of FRY condemn and reject Constitutional amendments passed in July 2000 by the federal assembly in an irregular and anti-constitutional manner”, it is said in the statement, stressing also that both parties “comply with the stands of the resolution adopted by Montenegrin parliament on the occasion”.

Participants of the meeting also agreed concerning two issues essential for the future of the federation. “The precondition for creation of a new state community are democratic changes in Serbia and consistent implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1244 in order that Kosovo and Metohija remain an integral part of Serbia”, it is said in the statement, along with the conclusion that it is necessary to work together on the establishment of a stable, successful and European union of Montenegro and Serbia, “regardless of the attempts of destructive political forces to interrupt progress”.

This would, at least officially, be the result of the one-day negotiations: rejection of Constitutional amendments, respect for international standards and a wish to construct a union of Montenegro and Serbia on democratic foundations. Nothing spectacular: general, well-known stands, agreement on principles.

There was nothing dramatically new in the statements issued during the day and later by participants of the talks either. “We share the stand that the union of Serbia and Montenegro is in our mutual interest. We share the stand that it must be a European union and that it is not that now. Reforms are necessary but in the opposite direction from the ones initiated by Milosevic”, said president of Democratic Party Zoran Djindjic. Goran Svilanovic, president of Civil Alliance of Serbia, said that agreement had been reached that “amendments of the federal Constitution lead to unstabling of the union, but of the whole region as well”.

Two key questions were, intentionally or not, left aside: the question of federal elections, and the question of the road Montenegro should take from now on.

In separate talks, however, it was heard, most of the time was devoted to the decision of official Podgorica to boycott federal elections. “It is necessary to be wise and not reach decisions rashly”, said Nebojsa Covic when asked by journalists whether Montenegro would decide to run in federal elections after all. “The proposal of our host is not to specifically declare our stands on the elections”, admitted Dusan Mihajlovic of New Democracy. Only representatives of SPO were specific. “We have reached full agreement about the elections. SPO believes that the real question is - the question of fair and democratic elections, and not of running in federal elections for which there are no conditions now”, said Tomislav Jeremic, official of SPO.

The Montenegrin party officially has not even mentioned federal elections. Svetozar Marovic just stated in general that it was most important for both Montenegro and Serbia that “the level of democracy is rising in this region” failing to explicitly answer whether Podgorica would be running in federal elections.

Sources from the leadership of DPS stress that running in federal elections is out of the question and that this was sincerely said to Serbian opposition which is divided concerning this issue: SPO is also in favour of boycott, while the others consider federal elections the last chance to overthrow Milosevic in a democratic way. More precisely: majority in Serbian opposition could not persuade the Montenegrin party to change its stand about boycott of federal elections and there was considerable misunderstanding about it, well informed claim. That is why, in the end, the topic of federal elections was removed from the text of the joint statement.

There was even less real agreement about the question of Montenegrin referendum. It is true that a large majority of Serbian opposition thinks that Montenegro cannot be deprived of this right, but the possibility of sharp Milosevic’s counter-measures are not disregarded by anybody either. That is why the real talks were left for “better times”. The leader of the Movement for Democratic Serbia testifies about it. “I know for sure that the people and state leadership of Montenegro do not wish to leave Yugoslavia, but I also know that they do not wish to live under Milosevic’s dictatorship. I hope that in talks in the forthcoming period we will reach a reasonable solution which will be the optimum for the citizens of Montenegro and Serbia”, said Perisic.

This former general of Yugoslav People’s Army has perhaps come the closest to the estimate of the actual results of the meeting in Sveti Stefan. The meeting of representatives of Montenegrin ruling parties and Serbian opposition showed that dialogue was possible even when viewpoints were not identical. But, apart from general agreement and the joint statement, the meeting in Sveti Stefan will hardly have any significant influence on the future of Serbian-Montenegrin relations. Due to the simple fact that nobody can disregard: the destiny of peace in this space depends primarily on Slobodan Milosevic and his actions. For as long as the opposition in Serbia is not powerful enough to limit or significantly influence behavior of official Belgrade, negotiations with Montenegrin ruling parties will be just statements of good will without actual consequences on developments in Serbia and Montenegro.

Original article