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A Marriage of Inconvenience: Montenegro 2003
A Marriage of Inconvenience: Montenegro 2003
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
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
Report 142 / Europe & Central Asia

A Marriage of Inconvenience: Montenegro 2003

It is time for new policies and new approaches on Montenegro. International engagement with that republic in recent years has brought significant positive results.

Executive Summary

It is time for new policies and new approaches on Montenegro. International engagement with that republic in recent years has brought significant positive results. It bolstered the pro-Western government of Djukanovic when it faced the threat from Milosevic. It has helped promote reforms that have set Montenegro on the way to becoming a modern democracy, with a market economy and an independent, effective criminal justice system. However, efforts to promote regional stability have been hampered by an unnecessary obsession with keeping Montenegro and Serbia in a single state. The international community’s overriding interest in the region should be to find stable, long-term solutions. Cobbling together interim solutions that lack legitimacy for those who must implement them and that are unlikely, therefore, to be functional in practice, is not the way to build stability.

The formation of a new state union of Serbia and Montenegro, following the March 2002 Belgrade Agreement, has failed to resolve the future relationship of the two republics. The tortuous negotiations that eventually produced the new union’s Constitutional Charter demonstrated the lack of common purpose or consensus. Throughout the negotiations, from November 2001 until December 2002, only heavy engagement and pressure from the European Union (EU) kept the process on track.

The agreement on a new union takes no account of the status of Kosovo, notionally still an autonomous province of Serbia, but in practice a UN protectorate. As long as Kosovo’s future remains unresolved, the territory and the constitutional make-up of Serbia, and of the joint state of Serbia and Montenegro, remain undefined. The agreement between Serbia and Montenegro only partially addresses the future of the defunct Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and does not represent a stable solution for the territories of the former state.

The EU’s determination to press Montenegro into retaining the joint state was largely driven by its fear that early Montenegrin independence would force an unready international community to address Kosovo’s status prematurely. Consequently the EU and the wider international community have opted for interim, inherently unstable solutions for Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo alike, rather than tackling the causes of instability.

The international community should no longer oppose Montenegrin independence but should instead be ready to support whatever solution Montenegro and Serbia can agree upon for their future relationship. It, and the EU in particular, should be ready to assist those two republics to work out a satisfactory arrangement, while adopting a neutral stance on what the form of that relationship is to be.

A major focus of international policy should be to promote needed reforms. Already, considerable resources have been devoted to this end, and they have brought good results. However, the negative attitude of much of the international community towards Montenegro, as an alleged haven of organised crime, has led to a distorted approach in which the prevalence of organised crime is sometimes linked to the status issue.

Organised crime and corruption are indeed problems in Montenegro, as elsewhere in the region. Some steps have been taken, although concerns remain about the degree of commitment Montenegrin authorities demonstrate when the allegations that need to be investigated relate to senior officials. The focus should be on helping, and when necessary pressing Montenegro, as well as other entities in the region, to show greater zeal in carrying out reforms and in tackling organised crime and corruption.

Particular stress should be placed on reform of the criminal justice system, especially to end political interference. Assessments of progress should be based above all on concrete results. In particular, any suspicion that some figures are above the law, due to their high connections, and that sensitive cases are covered up should be dispelled.

Strict conditionality should be applied on assistance to Montenegro, based on performance. Assessments of reform programs need to go beyond ticking off legislation adopted and focus on implementation. In particular, the international community should insist upon effective measures to tackle corruption. Where there is not adequate evidence of action, assistance programs should be shut down. Credit should be given where it is due, and pressure should be applied where progress is lacking, but no assessment should be influenced by a desire to influence Montenegro on the status issue.

Given its budgetary problems, the Montenegrin government depends on international assistance. Until now the leverage that fact of political life implies has largely been used in the ill-conceived effort to keep the republic in a union with Serbia. Instead, it should be used to force real change in the way that Montenegro is governed.

Podgorica/Brussels, 16 April 2003

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