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ICG-CEPS Open Letter on Montenegro
ICG-CEPS Open Letter on Montenegro
Thessaloniki and After (III) The EU, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo
Thessaloniki and After (III) The EU, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo
Table of Contents
  1. Overview

ICG-CEPS Open Letter on Montenegro

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.

Dear Dr Solana,

We have been following with strong interest your efforts to try to resolve the present impasse over the future of Monetenegro-Serbian relations. We are extremely concerned that the EU is trying to bull-dozer Podgorica in a direction that would be economically and politically unwise.

On the economic side, Podgorica has already moved faster towards the open European market (tariff average 3%) than Belgrade (tariff average 10%), and should not now be required to move backwards. 

Podgorica has already introduced not only the DM as its currency two years ago, but now successfully - and without external help- moves onto the euro for its budget and replaces DM by euro notes and coin. It should not be forced back onto the Yugoslav dinar, a currency with a very bad track record. 

Economic openness and the euro as currency make sense for a small coastal Adriatic economy, which can build a prosperous future with tourism as its main export industry. There is no reason why a small economy of this type cannot be viable - in population Montenegro is about the same as Cyprus and much bigger than Malta. 

Re-integration of the region together with its integration with the EU, are objectives that we all support. But the EU should not push for a federation between unwilling partners. As you will remember surely, history is littered with failures of this type, mostly imposed by the European great powers of the day. 

A different scenario is entirely possible, and suggested in fact by the Montenegrin statement of 5 February. If a constitutional agreement cannot be found today, it would be better to welcome the perspective of progressive convergence of Serbia and Montenegro over the time horizon ahead for preparing for EU accession (i.e. at least ten years). In the meantime, there would be several options including: (1) a loose confederation, allowing for different economic policies for the time being, and (2) independence. Either one would have to be legitimised by a referendum. We strongly believe that the people of Montenegro should be allowed to excercise their democratic right to decide on the future of their republic.

In all cases the outcome could be supported by an agreement between the parties to resume re-integration talks after some years as EU accession becomes a closer prospect. The EU should abstain from expressing any further preference over which should be the solution, but simply facilitate an amicable resolution without more delay, and agree to be supportive in all cases. 

In all cases Belgrade should get on with the job of rationalising its own government structures, eliminating the overlap of Yugoslav and Serbian governments. 

Finally we must express our alarm at the undoubted fact that EU pressure for a federal solution is playing into the hands of political factions in both Belgrade and Podgorica that are the least progressive in terms of modern European values, rather than the reverse. 

Yours sincerely,

Gareth Evans, President, International Crisis Group; former Foreign Minister, Australia 

Daniel Gros, Director, Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels 

Desmond O'Malley TD, Chairman, Joint Foreign Affairs Committee, Irish Parliament 

Ersin Arioglu, Chairman, Yapi Merkezi, Turkey 

Emma Bonino, Member of the European Parliament; former European Commissioner 

Richard Caplan, Research Fellow, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford 

Michael Emerson, Senior Research Fellow, CEPS 

Tim Judah, Journalist, London, England 

Heidi Rühle, Member of the European Parliament

Pär Stenbäck, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finland 

Ed van Thijn, former Minister of Interior, The Netherlands; former Mayor of Amsterdam 

Nicholas Whyte, Research Fellow, Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels

Thessaloniki and After (III) The EU, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo

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.

I. Overview

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.[fn]With the adoption of a new Constitutional Charter in February 2003, Serbia and Montenegro redefined their relationship as a loose State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, replacing the former, defunct Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). Under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Kosovo remains legally a part of this state, as successor to the FRY, although under UN supervision.Hide Footnote As part of this assistance effort, it included the three entities in the Stabilisation and Association process (SAp) that it established to build security in the Western Balkans and open perspectives for eventual membership.[fn]The Western Balkan countries covered by the SAp are, in addition to Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Albania.Hide Footnote

As far as Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo are concerned, however, Thessaloniki is likely to produce only limited results and not advance long-term stability unless it is harnessed to a clear political agenda to resolve outstanding post-conflict issues and set all three entities firmly on the path of EU integration. For this to happen, the EU must address the status of Kosovo without too much delay. It already plays the key role in promoting the province’s economic development, through both the resources it devotes and its leadership of the economic pillar of the UN administration. Amid widespread calls for it to take on an even greater role, it cannot afford to endanger its substantial political and financial investment because of unreadiness to tackle the underlying causes of instability. The EU should also be ready to help Serbia and Montenegro resolve their relationship in a mutually acceptable way, so that both republics can finally move past the endless debates over statehood that have dominated political life since Milosevic's fall.

In this briefing paper, our basic conclusions with regard to the EU and the SAp are:

  • The EU should maintain its assistance at levels commensurate with the seriousness of the challenges facing Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo provided that they achieve clear, realistic benchmarks along a roadmap whose destination is EU membership.
     
  • The SAp should be adjusted so as to address the specific circumstances in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo more flexibly, in particular through creative use of the new European Partnerships which will be drawn up with each country.

With regard to Kosovo,

  • The EU should prepare to address the issue of Kosovo’s final status, first of all by reaching a common understanding among its member states on their goals.
     
  • Using the European Agency for Reconstruction and in direct liaison with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, the EU should develop an integrated approach to delivering targeted assistance, establishing benchmarks and assessing progress on carrying out reforms in line with EU standards.

Belgrade/Podgorica/Pristina/Brussels, 20 June 2003