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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The history of Montenegrin independence should be a lesson for Russia

Saturday marks exactly ten years since the referendum which Montenegro left the state Union with Serbia. This anniversary she celebrates accession to NATO, but about the sequence of these events it was possible to guess it then. That all happened the way it happened, is indirectly the fault of Russia. And it is important to understand that such “surprise” is not the last.

On Thursday, the foreign Ministers of NATO countries signed a Protocol on the incorporation of Montenegro into the Alliance. It remains to be ratified, but since then, the representatives of Montenegro have the right to attend regular meetings of the NATO observer status. The event was attended by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who in recent years has been the engine of the accession of his estate to the Alliance contrary to the opinion of much of the population.

“Montenegro was flooded with cars with foreign plates, on which you can ride all you want, but it was impossible to travel outside of the country – almost all of them were listed as stolen”

The fact that this event almost coincided with the tenth anniversary of referendum on secession of Montenegro from the state Union with Serbia may have been an accident, but it turned out symbolic. From a formal point of view, Montenegro gained independence on 21 may and 3 June, when the referendum results were approved by the Parliament, but it is assumed that Yugoslavia ceased to exist just after the announcement of the first results of the plebiscite. However, “Yugoslavia”, the country was called only by inertia. In the state, in 2003 renamed the state Union of Serbia and Montenegro, no national unity was not, and Podgorica preferred to live his life, until the illegal adoption of the Euro in 2002.

The turnout at the plebiscite was extremely high – nearly 87%. According to the hastily adopted law on referendum, to secede from the Union with Serbia was necessary 50% of votes plus one vote, but the opposition demanded to take into account the voices of not only the citizens of Montenegro, and the Montenegrins living abroad (70% of Montenegrins have relatives in Serbia). The situation grew tense, and the EU representative, Miroslav Lajcak (now Minister of foreign Affairs of Slovakia) said that Brussels recognizes the independence of Podgorica only in the case if “for” vote of 55% of voters. Where Lajcak took this figure is unclear. Theoretically, he could “expose” Djukanovic (Yes, then he was also the Prime Minister) any interest, because there is no generally accepted international practices or legislated regulations of the EU on this issue does not exist. Suppose it was a free flight of thought Miroslav lajčák, comes from the fact that the bloodless separation happens only in the case that a separatist victory would be relatively convincing. And that is why it was considered a convincing result in 55%, no one knows still.

In any case, clearly did not work. Immediately after the vote, Djukanovic was quick to say that “for” vote of 55.5 %, then the figure has been adjusted to 55.3%. Another representative of the Union responsible for organizing the referendum, františek Lipka (a Slovak too, and also a poet and a sommelier), in the end, adopted the figure of 55.6% 44.4% against. The opposition had for some time disputed about 19 thousand votes, so the final announcement of results was delayed, but in the end the fate of the Union decided approximately 2,000 ballots – about so exceeded the required threshold. The opposition leader Predrag Bulatovic still claims that the secession of Montenegro voted 54%, that is, we need the EU the result has not been achieved.

The vote distribution of Montenegrins is very uneven, but it is significant. Pomor gave 60% “for”, which is understandable and historically. Rich coast has lived and is living through tourism, there has long been forgotten what the Yugoslav Dinar. Even in Tito’s Yugoslavia fortunate inhabitants of Pomerania, Montenegrin and Croatian Dalmatia for the holiday season earning an income that could comfortably spend the winter in Western Europe, and even in Miami. In addition, seaboard, by that time firmly hooked on a variety of smuggling, among which was dominated by cigarettes. And “final” independence was presented only as an additional option, which will expand the existing opportunities, often striking outside observers. For example, Montenegro was flooded with cars with foreign (mostly Italian), on which you can ride all you want, but it was impossible to travel outside of the country – almost all of them in theft.

A separate story – the vote in Ulcinj and to the South of it. This area historically was inhabited mainly by Albanians, but has already managed to feel the creeping colonization of Kosovo. The result of Ulcinj, and all the settlements to the border with Albania polls voted for independence. Then the government of Montenegro, it didn’t seem dangerous, since Djukanovic had developed a good rapport with the Kosovars, and those from time to time kept quiet about his claim to Ulcinj and Rozaje. Even the personal bodyguard of Cute has long been Albanian.

In the border with Serbia and Bosnia regions, the situation was just the opposite. In some “opstina”-municipalities for the preservation of the Union voted to 75% of the population. And we must understand that in a Patriarchal Montenegro, with its vestiges of the communal-tribal system “, opshtiny” in everyday life means more than the Central government. For example, without the consent of the representatives opshtiny virtually impossible to begin construction or to open a resort business. The land historically belongs to a local family (clan), and the user opshtiny, as a rule, are his representatives here with them-and have to agree. Another thing is that the traditionalist society is not too good understanding of the political realities, as “keepers of traditions” is easily conducted in high-sounding phrases. The result proved to be decisive voice mountain of Montenegro, where support for independence was predetermined by that word, beautiful sounding in all the mountains.

First, the independence of Montenegro has recognized Croatia, and most of all rejoiced in Kosovo. The then Prime Minister, Pristina and the famous KLA fighter Agim Ceku said that the referendum “the final step to the destruction of Yugoslavia”. Liberal Serbian President Boris Tadic has recognised the results of voting almost immediately, but the opposition to him by Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica (Serbia is already well-established practice of political dualism, it – multiple personality disorder) was quiet for about a week until he was finally forced to repeat the confession Tadic. But Brussels is rightly the winner decided to tickle the nerves of all parties and repeatedly stressed that “the European future of Serbia and Montenegro will depend on their choice and the readiness to cooperate with the ICTY”. Than this pressure has ended, we see the results of the last process in the Hague.

“If you wish, in Serbia typed those 55%, which will push the entry into the EU and NATO, and if not typed, delegates from Brussels will come up with a new figure”

Still diplomatic relations with Podgorica did not establish the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Tanzania, Nigeria, Somalia, Madagascar, Sao Tome and Principe, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Kingdom of Tonga. It is possible that in these countries do not quite understand, where is Montenegro, and certainly don’t feel for her any feelings. As to Russia, she, like China, have stated that they would support any results, than untied the hands of supporters of independence through diplomatic and other channels Djukanovic knew that Moscow would not block a UN security Council recognition of Montenegro.

This ostrich position is not that understandable, but the natural policy of the Balkan countries (and especially small and Montenegro) in Russia was in those days something third-rate. In fact, a unified and targeted strategy in the Balkans did not exist, although several influential diplomats and business live there physically, will arrive in Moscow to work. Their complacency was a product of the very contagious in the home of the Mediterranean way of life, Moscow is based on the notion that “anywhere-they are not going anywhere” due to circumstances, mentality and Orthodoxy. In the end, Montenegro almost no one did, except for rare flashes of attention on the basis of privatization of several industrial facilities. Such a policy for eye became known as “corporate diplomacy” because the public interest was determined not by strategic calculation and prediction, and the interests of large companies and state corporations. However, the calculation of the Orthodoxy, the mentality, economic ties and so on. (if ever there was some calculation) is not justified. After years of the previously privatized enterprises, including the famous aluminum plant, was lost for the Russian business.

Movement of Montenegro in NATO was gradual, but so obvious that it was impossible not to notice. Cooperation with the ICTY seemed a tribute to the conventions, but at the slightest hint from the Hague it is closed to the possibility of stay in Montenegro, even those who legally owned and owns real estate there. This was followed by a strange story with a possible Montenegro Russian naval base, which included an investment of several billion dollars, which exceeded the entire annual GDP of the country. After some haggling and hesitation Djukanovic rejected the Russian proposal, and what this trend means in fact it is clear even from the sun dazed tourists on the beaches of Budva.

When advancing towards NATO became official, and Djukanovic began to push specific legal steps, no tools counter was gone. They are, however, not originally, but suddenly it turned out that the tough stance of Russia against NATO enlargement is not backed up in practice. Unrest in Montenegro, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest against joining the Alliance, have been exclusively natural, and intellectual and media support of Russia’s initiative was limited to just a couple people. That is, statements Djukanovic about the “hand of Moscow” behind street protests in Podgorica, were, to put it mildly, an exaggeration, but the exaggeration is significant. This was followed by a very brutal crackdown, which is not typical for Montenegro, where most of the problems even in 90-e years were solved through negotiations.

Now you can talk about “changing balance of power in the Balkans”, a direct violation of agreements not to expand NATO to the East and South, but Montenegro have already entered into the Alliance at an amazing speed as rapidly at the time, was achieved and its independence. Change it all will not succeed, but the findings needed to be done. For example, you need to hear the applause from Belgrade, from the part of Serbian society, which in the last ten years, despite the integration in the Russian political process, were set on joining the European structures, contrary to the opinion of the majority of society. And, if desired, in Serbia typed those 55%, which will push the entry into the EU and NATO, and if not typed, delegates from Brussels will come up with a new figure.

We need to live in this situation. To think about a new model of “soft power”, the fullness of embassies and missions concerned and sincere people, a more stringent position of the MFA as a whole. And while the Assembly of Podgorica, at the regular meeting unanimously adopted the decision on renaming of the Republic square in Independence square. As follows from tourist brochures, “a large space, a beautiful fountain, next to shopping malls and restaurants, and free wi-fi made this area one of the most favorite places for recreation for residents and guests of the capital”. Free wi-fi is the key word.

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