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. Continue reading →
Well, we are united in our diversity here at Fistful. I have to say I disagree with almost every point Doug made about Montenegro in his last post, and will respectfully dissect his arguments below. But first off, a plea for some sanity here. Too many people seem to think that the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1990-93 was in some way the EU’s “fault”; that it failed to act quickly enough, to apply diplomatic pressure, or even (in contradiction to the evidence) that the EU’s recognition of Croatia and Slovenia in December 1991 somehow caused the wars. Nonsense. The fact is that Yugoslavia was broken up by the policies of the Serbian leadership. Outsiders tried to ameliorate or decelerate the process and the consequences; they largely failed. The international community does bear some responsibility for its inaction in the face of evil. But the larger share of the responsibility belongs to the local actors – especially, though not only, the Serbian political leaders. The fact is that we can plan all we like for international do-gooding, but the forces in action on the ground will always be the crucial factor. And so it is in Montenegro.
I’m sure Doug agrees with me on most of that. Now let’s get to the points of our disagreement. It’s important to realise that Montenegro has been effectively independent since 1997, when Djukanovic, then Prime Minister, threw the pro-Milosevic elements out of the ruling party and won the Presidential election against his former patron. Montenegro has had a separate customs area since roughly then. It adopted the Deutsch Mark (now the Euro) as currency in 1999, while Serbia retains the dinar to this day. The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, established in 2003, remains largely fictional apart from the foreign ministry. Montenegro’s referendum, if successful, will merely formalise the reality of its independence. In fairness, Doug states most of this as well. Yet he seems to think that rolling history back is both possible and desirable. Continue reading →