in the Mountains
MONTENEGRO’S LOOMING SECESSION
Djukanovic can’t hardly wait to be called "Mr. President"
– and not just any which way. He is absolutely determined
to be the President of an independent, internationally recognized
of Montenegro. Come hell or high water, the former protégé
and admirer-turned-enemy of Slobodan Milosevic wants to see
the tiny state currently still within the Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia occupy a separate seat in the UN and – why not?
– NATO. With him as its near-absolute ruler, of course.
three days, depending on the outcome of state elections in
Montenegro, that dream of his – and the nightmare for the
rest of the Balkans – has a good chance of coming true.
four years now, Djukanovic has faithfully served the United
States as their Yugoslav "insider." He provided
sanctuary for pro-NATO politicians such as Zoran Djindjic
Draskovic, when NATO attacked Yugoslavia in 1999. He also
refused to fight against NATO, which largely spared his dominion
the indiscriminate bombing reserved for the rest of FRY. Montenegro
also served as a base of operations for US special envoys,
diplomats, spies and reporters, and a channel for funds to
Serbian opposition – notably Mr. Djindjic and other groups,
whoever was more willing to renounce their Serb identity in
favor of materialist liberalism.
ascension to power in 1997 was aided by copious amounts of
American taxpayers’ cash. Ever since, as a reward for his
services, Djukanovic has received millions of dollars in direct
US aid. He used it to buy the loyalty of the people and fortify
his power. Bereft of income from tourism, its industry in
shambles from five years of sanctions, Djukanovic’s Montengro
relied almost exclusively on foreign aid to make up its budget.
Last year, Montenegro was the second
largest recipient of per capita US aid – right after
OF A THOUSAND SLASHES
other republics of the former Socialist Yugoslavia (SFRY),
Djukanovic’s regime eschewed the headlong approach to secession.
Instead, they usurped
more and more federal authority, from taxation, and customs
to police, banking and currency, over time. German Mark replaced
the Yugoslav dinar as legal tender last year, soon after NATO
did the same in occupied Kosovo. Djukanovic’s regime has also
armed and trained about 40,000 paramilitary police (around
7% of the total population!), just in case anything interferes
with his destruction
Milosevic in power in Belgrade, the US enthusiastically funded
and supported Djukanovic’s regime. Djukanovic enjoyed endless
positive publicity, despite – nay, because of – the
fact that he was destroying the Yugoslav union bit by bit.
Of course, every action was justified in the name of self-defense
against Milosevic’s "aggression," as if a country
could really attack itself. Then again, if the world had bought
NATO’s explanation for Kosovo, there was nothing Djukanovic
and his masters could not get away with.
Kostunica and DOS took power in October 2000, the Milosevic
bogeyman disappeared. Supporters of Montenegrin independence,
from the US
government to the militant, pro-Empire ICG
to Djukanovic himself howled that Milosevic was still a threat
to Montenegro (i.e. Djukanovic, as those two terms had just
about become inseparable in their eyes). But the regime was
busily exploiting other openings.
Djukanovic suggested on one of his NATO tours, was not really
the problem. What really stuck in his craw was that Montenegro
could never be fully equal in a federation with Serbia. How
exactly did he envision "full
equality" of a tiny province of 600,000 with a several
times larger entity of 9 million, Djukanovic chose not to
elaborate. He did, however, reject
with extreme prejudice the proposal by president Kostunica
that would have reorganized the current Yugoslav federation
(loose and dysfunctional as it is) into a virtual confederacy,
with only a few key powers in federal hands. No, Milo replied,
and demanded total and complete independence under a pretense
of a union. Even Zoran Djindjic, the man who stands to gain
the most if Djukanovic secedes and leaves Kostunica without
a job, rejected
negotiations were supposed to fail, though, since they bought
time for Djukanovic to launch a media offensive and organize
an independence referendum. He and his "foreign minister"
Branko Lukovac went on tours
of NATO countries, trying to secure political, financial
and military support for secession. Lukovac wrote two editorials
asking for US backing, dutifully printed in the Washington
Post and the Washington
Times. For foreign consumption, the regime’s argument
focused on Montenegro’s contribution to fighting "greater
Serbian nationalism" – i.e., if Montenegro seceded,
that would somehow destroy the "dream of Greater Serbia,"
supposedly first espoused by Milosevic, and now Kostunica.
the domestic front, Djukanovic has encouraged pseudo-histories
and pseudo-linguistics, both aimed at somehow "proving"
that Montenegrins have been a separate nation from Serbs entirely,
and even spoke a different
language. He even encouraged the formation of the "Montenegrin
Orthodox Church", led by an excommunicated Orthodox
priest Miras Dedeic. The MOC then proceeded to assault
the priests, churches and offices of the Serbian Orthodox
Church’s Diocese of Montenegro-Littoral. Frequent protests
by bishop Amfilohije and his demands for legal protection
fell on deaf ears in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica.
inhabitants of Montenegro (sr. Crna Gora, eng. Black
Mountain) had long considered themselves Serbs – albeit first
and foremost members of their mountain clans, much like the
Scots. As fiercely as the Scots, they fought the Turkish invaders
for centuries and managed to preserve their little mountain
enclave as the last free remnant of the once prosperous Serbian
kingdom, which had been lost in the 1389 battle of Kosovo.
headwear of Montenegro’s men, incidentally, symbolizes
the bloody field of Kosovo framed in a black as a sign of
by Orthodox bishops (vladike) for centuries, Montenegro
was officially recognized as an independent state in 1799
by the Ottoman Empire, and in 1878 by the Western empires
at the Congress of Berlin. One of its greatest rulers, Petar
II Petrovic-Njegos, wrote the greatest Serbian liberation
epic, the "Mountain
Wreath" [Gorski Vijenac] in 1847.
Njegos’s heirs, Montenegro fought alongside the restored,
independent Serbia in the Balkan wars of 1912-1913, and stood
by its brethren in 1914-15, as Austrian and German troops
overran the Balkans. In 1918, it finally joined the Kingdom
of Serbia and accepted the Serbian crown – then merged
into the Kingdom of South Slavs, later Yugoslavia.
Italian occupation in World War Two, Montenegro was administered
by enemies of the unification, the so-called "Greens"
[Zelenasi] because their "nay" votes in 1918
had been on green cards, while the "Whites" [Bjelasi]
had voted on white cards. Yet many Greens still believed Montenegro
to be a Serb
the Communists took power in 1945, they established the Republic
of Montenegro, in accordance with their ideology: the Serbs,
as the most populous Yugoslav group, had to be weak and divided
in order for the Communists to govern effectively.
while the independent Montenegro had first been established
as an expression of Serb desire for liberty and unity, the
Republic was established as its absolute antithesis. Instead
of joining, it divided. Instead of strengthening, it weakened.
And instead of liberating, it enabled the Communists to imprison
thousands of people in Serbia – and Montenegro – as "Stalinists,"
during the 1948-53 standoff with the Comintern.
ANY LIE NECESSARY
regime is now trying to erase
those centuries of Montenegro’s Serb
identity by inventing the new language, history, culture
and even favoring the western, Latin alphabet – though Njegos
had written in native, Cyrillic Serbian.
is also trying to present his actions as the right of Montenegrins
to self-determination. Even if one concedes the incredulous
point that there is a "Montenegrin" nation – for
the sake of tolerance and understanding – how come, then,
that only those "Montenegrins" living on the territory
of Djukanovic’s private fiefdom will be allowed to vote in
the upcoming referendum? There are three times as many "Montenegrins"
(many of whom consider themselves Serbs from Montenegro) in
Serbia proper, or elsewhere in the world, and most of them
are not in favor of Djukanovic’s folly. Because of that, they
will not be able to vote. Ethnic minorities in Montenegro
itself, though, will. Many Slavic Muslims in the north and
most Albanians in the south support
Djukanovic wholeheartedly. Whether the latter would simply
prefer to be a sizable minority in a small, independent Montenegro
to being a tiny minority in FRY – or their plans perhaps coincided
with the authors of this map
– is immaterial. Djukanovic counts on their votes to win the
referendum, and they intend to deliver.
that there are enough minorities to push Djukanovic’s separatists
over the "50% of participating voters + 1" mark,
it is conceivable that the decision to secede will quite likely
be made by a minority of "Montenegrins."
Djukanovic has shown no sympathy for the fate of those "Montenegrins"
who live in Serbia. As far as he is concerned, they do not
exist. Someone might remember that Slobodan Milosevic’s not-so-remote
ancestors came from Montenegro, after all…
but not least, Djukanovic’s brazen request for 50,000 blank
identity documents from Belgrade leaves no room for doubt.
If he cannot win the election and the referendum legally,
he is more than ready to
cheat. He did say, after all, that Yugoslavia
no longer existed.