The Balkans was best known for minority problems. Today, the most bitter conflicts are between parties that appeal to majority ethnic communities. As recent turbulence in Macedonia shows, Eastern Europe could face new dangers if majority populism ends the current stigma against separatism for oppressed small groups.
Post-election protest and attacks on ethnic minorities erupted following defeat of incumbent President Đukanović. Đukanović, who had ruled country for three decades, 1 Sept conceded defeat following 30 Aug election, accusing Serbia of stoking ethno-nationalist tensions; Belgrade same day denied meddling in election; election dominated by controversial Freedom of Confession Act that critics argue facilitates govt register of all religious sites in attempt to reduce role of Serbian Orthodox Church. Three opposition coalitions –For the Future of Montenegro, Peace is Our Nation and Black in White – 9 Sept signed coalition agreement promising to uphold country’s commitment to joining EU bloc. Meanwhile, post-electoral attacks broke out against ethnic minorities as supporters of pro-Serb parties reportedly attacked Bosniaks and Albanians in northern towns, and caused material damage to an Islamic community centre in the northern town of Plvelja 2 Sept. Religious leaders and opposition parties called for calm; top Orthodox Bishop Metropolitan Amfilohije 2 Sept called attacks an affront to “every citizen of Montenegro”. Thousands of protesters 6 Sept gathered in capital Podgorica to contest Serb nationalist imagery featuring prominently in opposition celebrations. New parliament 23 Sept convened, approved new govt composed of three electoral coalitions with slim majority of 41 seats; leader of pro-Serbian opposition party Zradvko Krivokapić appointed new PM.
Montenegrins are more likely than not to vote in April 2006 to break away from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. It is time for the European Union, whose diplomacy in 2001-2002 created the manifestly dysfunctional confederation, to make clear that it will accept whatever decision Montenegro’s citizens make, and encourage those opposing independence to participate peacefully in the referendum process.
Since the fall of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000, the steady normalisation of Serbia's relations with the international community has significantly enhanced the prospects for long-term peace and stability. The European Union (EU) rose to the challenge, providing resources for reconstruction and reforms in Serbia itself, as well as in Montenegro and Kosovo.
It is time for new policies and new approaches on Montenegro. International engagement with that republic in recent years has brought significant positive results.
On 14 March 2002 the leaders of Serbia, Montenegro and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) signed an agreement in Belgrade to replace FRY with a new "state community": a "union of states" to be called "Serbia and Montenegro".
Ten months after the fall of Slobodan Miloševiæ, considerable progress has been made in establishing democratic governance in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and reintegrating the country into the international community.
The extraordinary parliamentary election to be held in Montenegro on 22 April 2001 is focused on the single issue of the republic’s future status, whether in a continued federal union with Serbia, or as an independent state.
An Open Letter to Dr Javier Solana Madariaga, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.