Montenegro: Djukanovic is Prime Minister, again, again

So Milo Djukanovic is back as Montenegro’s Prime Minister again.

Djukanovic is a damn interesting character. When Yugoslavia broke up, most of the pieces were dominated by guys in their fifties and sixties — Milosevic, Izetbegovic, Tudjman. Hell, Gligorov of Macedonia was a WWII vet in his seventies.

Montenegro was the odd exception. Djukanovic was born in 1962, so he was just 27 when he and a couple of colleagues rode Milosevic’s coattails to power in Montenegro. By 1991 he was the youngest Prime Minister in Europe. By 1998 he had squeezed out various rivals to become the most powerful man in the country.

Which he still is today. He’s been in “retirement” for the last year and a bit, but everyone knew this was just a refractory period before jumping back in. Originally it was thought he’d run for President next year, but the current PM fell ill. Sow now he’s going to be Prime Minister for the third time.

Djukanovic is an intelligent, amoral opportunist. Despite the generational difference, he has a lot in common with the other “founding fathers” of the Yugoslav republics (Milosevic, Tudjman, et al.): he’s never had any ideology beyond getting power, keeping power, staying safe, and getting rich. He was a strong Milosevic supporter until he realized Slobo was going down; then he switched sides overnight and became “pro-Western”. He led the drive for Montenegrin independence in 2006, not out of any patriotic sentiment but because he saw that Serbia would be going in circles for the next few years, and he thought he and his friends could do better running a sovereign nation. He’s currently under indictment in Italy for mafia-related activities; once he’s PM again, the indictments will be suspended for diplomatic reasons.

Djukanovic is not a particularly likable or admirable character; he’s made himself a millionaire many times over, he winks at violence against journalists and opposition supporters, and he’s never hesitated to steal an election if he thought he could get away with it. Democracy and human rights are not likely to move forward rapidly under his administration; indeed, one can doubt whether real democracy will ever come to Montenegro as long as Djukanovic dominates its politics. On the other hand, he’s smart, energetic, and savvy; under his administration, Montenegro got through three major political crises (the break with Milosevic in 1996-7, the Kosovo war in 1999, and the secession of 2006) much better than anyone could have expected.

I haven’t been back to Montenegro in a while, so comments by people who know more are welcome.

4 thoughts on “Montenegro: Djukanovic is Prime Minister, again, again

  1. I wouldn’t say that I know more, but there’s a strong sense of deja vu here. Nobody I know has any love for Djukanovic, but everybody agrees that he gets the job done. The problem is that the jobs he gets done tend to be the jobs which will benefit him rather than Montenegro. “L’etat, c’est moi” only works up to a point.

    In this case, one imagines that his job will be fixing up the economy and lining up for Europe, which might present him with an interesting conflict of interest, because the reforms which are required won’t necessarily be in his interests….

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  3. Interesting that your posts on Serbia tend to draw a lot of comments, but posts on Montenegro don’t. By “interesting”, I guess I mean “predictable” – poor Montenegro!

  4. Pingback: Montenegro » Blog Archive » Promotion and Flag montenegro of human rights.

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