Montenegro after America's pressure - Boycott despite everything

Despite American persuasion, Djukanovic persisted in the principled decision to ignore federal elections.


THU, 10 AUG 2000

Podgorica, August 4, 2000 - Montenegrin tripartite ruling coalition will boycott September federal elections, because they are founded on illegitimate decisions of illegitimate federal institutions.

This principled stand, stated immediately after recent passing of amendments of the Constitutions of FR Yugoslavia, denoted in the democratic public as legal violence against Montenegro, was defended by Montenegrin officials in all three rounds of persuasion to abandon it in order that democratic Montenegro help overthrow Slobodan Milosevic by participation in the elections. Serbian opposition tried twice to talk them into it, and a few days ago, US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright flew to Rome to meet Milo Djukanovic from Washington in order to try to persuade him.

The decision on the boycott is, from the aspect of intrests of democratic state of Montenegro and its authorities, the only reasonable solution in its present completely unequal position in the common state with Serbia, which has recently become Constitutional.

It is all in fact explained by the old metaphor: "In the elections in a (concentration) camp, the certain winner is - the administration of the camp"!

Therefore participation in September elections for Yugoslav parliament and the new/old head of the federal state would be just another, who knows for how long, nullification of Montenegro and its further removal from modern democratic, economic and other processes.

"For democratic Montenegro, federal elections do not exist. The state will neither defend them nor promote them. If Montenegro decided to participate in the elections, it would first have to previously establish reasons for it, and then in a legal procedure suspend all the previously reached decisions and activities by which it defended its state, ethnic, civic and democratic interests from the regime in Belgrade", says Miodrag Vukovic, high official of Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) clarifying that the stand of official Montenegro on refusal to run in the elections does not mean "disassociation from the joint effort to remove Belgrade dictatorship which is threatening the future of everybody in this space".

The additional argument for the decision of Montenegrin authorities to boycott the elections is preservation of peace in its own threepartite coalition.

"Participation of official Montenegro in the so-called elections will be treated as a reason for leaving the ruling coalition", Dragisa Burzan, member of presidency of Social Democratic Party and deputy prime minister, warned his coalition partners.

He also warns that Milosevic has actually and simply broken the alliance with Montenegro by annexing it to Serbia, but fortunately only on paper. That is why Montenegro would legalise this unilateral and forcible act by participating in the elections.

Burzan does not conceal that participation in the elections would mean dissolution of the multiparty Montenegrin government which would inevitably have numerous and hardly predictable consequences. Burzan's party prefers independent Montenegro and even proposes that either before or maybe even on September 24, the referendum be organised in which Montenegrin citizens would state their will on sovereignty of their state. However, forcing the referendum would for the time being, according to numerous estimates, be a risky experiment.

Montenegrin regime, however, cannot disassociate itself completely from September elections. It will lose the role of a neutral observer because of the obligation to put the central electoral register of Montenegro at the disposal of Socialist People's Party (SNP) as the main Milosevic's stronghold in Montenegro, and to open state media for the election campaign of those who wish to participate in it.

This is an interesting precedent in political history: Montenegrin regime which does not recognise legitimacy of the federal state will have to partly participate in the organisation of federal elections although it will neither be able to control the voting nor count the votes, and therefore neither will it be able to decide whether the elections were regular or not. Everything is in the hands of the "administration of the camp". This means that in any case, the part of Montenegro which wishes to break away from dictator Milosevic can count only on losing, because the possibility of Milosevic losing these elections by ballots is pure fantasy.

The impatient international community does not seem to realise that Milosevic is invincible, so it has tried again a few days ago, through US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, to talk Montenegrin president Milo Djukanovic into making the attempt to neutralise Milosevic together with Serbian opposition and with the help of the voters. Djukanovic remained firm. Whether there will be new attempts to pressure him and whether he will abandon the present stand remains to be seen.

"American state secretary Madeleine Albright did not demand from president Djukanovic that Montenegro participate in federal elections Milosevic has scheduled for September 24. In the dialogue that lasted for several hours they considered all options concerning the forthcoming elections, will all drawbacks and advantages, and among other possible participation of Montenegro, but clear and convincing Djukanovic's arguments were received with appreciation", a source close to American delegation headed by Madeleine Albright in Rome stated to Vijesti from Podgorica.

It is known that in diplomacy all the cards are never revealed to the public, so that such and similar statements would not be interpreted as a definite end of the dialogue about this delicate topic. Indeed, Djukanovic himself has slightly opened the door to the possibility that the present stand might be changed. "The decision whether it will participate in federal elections will be made by the ruling coalition", declared Djukanovic after the talks with Madeleine Albright.

Although it is possible to make guesses about what Madeleine Albright actually asked Djukanovic to do, it is quite certain that what a few days ago in Podgorica Serbian opposition wished to do was - to persuade official democratic Montenegro to run in federal elections.

However, the incomplete delegation of Montenegrin authorities consisting of representatives of Democratic Party of Socialists and the People's Party, and a numerous team of Serbian opposition have not brought their stands on federal elections any closer even after the second round of talks. Montenegrin officials were not willing to "swallow" readily as Serbian opposition their arguments against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic and of what he has done to Montenegro. But, there is always a "but".

"A definite decision still has not been made and the discussion will continue in the next few days on the level of experts", says Zoran Djindjic.

Memories are still fresh in Montenegrin democratic public that except for Serb Revival Movement, not a single Serbian opposition party has raised its voice against rash amendments of the Constitution of FRY and legal violence against Montenegro. But this does not prevent them from persistently persuading Montenegrin regime to participate in something that cannot be significantly affected by Montenegrin voters, but that can cause them to sacrifice democracy and future of Montenegro. That is why it is difficult to understand the intensive pressure of Serbian opposition to which Dragisa Burzan, member of presidency of Social Democrats, sent the following message after the talks in Podgorica:

"Because of their several-year long support to the traditional assimilative policy of official Serbia in relation to Montenegro, leaders of Serbian opposition will not have the support at least of those citizens who are in favour of sovereign Montenegro".

This is quite certain and their number is not at all negligible.

Original article