Montenegro’s Socialist People’s Party: A Loyal Opposition?
Montenegro’s Socialist People’s Party: A Loyal Opposition?
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 92 / Europe & Central Asia

Montenegro’s Socialist People’s Party: A Loyal Opposition?

The assertion of the primacy of Serbian rights over all other peoples by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has driven nearly every nationality of the former Yugoslavia toward the Republic’s exits.

Executive Summary

The assertion of the primacy of Serbian rights over all other peoples by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has driven nearly every nationality of the former Yugoslavia toward the Republic’s exits.  Even Montenegro, once Serbia’s closest political and military ally, has not been immune from the turmoil that Slobodan Milosevic has created and has opted to distance itself from Belgrade’s controlling influence.

The resulting political tensions have reshaped Montenegro’s political landscape.  The Socialist People’s Party (SNP), which enjoys the support of about one-third of the Montenegrin public, was formed as the result of a split within Montenegro’s ruling party, the Party of Democratic Socialists (DPS).  The SNP is a party increasingly on the defensive, caught between the initiatives of Montenegrin President Djukanovic to define pro-Western, democratising and reformist policies; and the intimidation tactics of federal President Milosevic who seeks to bring Montenegro to heel and thus salvage the Federation.

Cracks have begun to appear in the SNP’s once-united front.  Tensions have reportedly increased between party leader Momir Bulatovic, the federal prime minister portrayed by Djukanovic as a Belgrade-centric gauleiter of Milosevic, and Predrag Bulatovic, the deputy party chief (and no relation of Momir), who appears to speak for Montenegrins concerned about Momir’s incompetent leadership and supportive of the Federation but who are increasingly sceptical of Milosevic’s assumption that SNP policies must be tailored to the Serbian leader’s wishes.

The SNP seems to be struggling whether to continue as an opposition party owing primary loyalty to Belgrade, or a loyal opposition to Djukanovic whose critique of government actions is based on the needs of the Montenegrin people.  The policy issue for the Western democracies is to determine how serious these differences are and whether to engage the putative loyal opposition in serious dialogue that would advance the prospects for Montenegrin reform and stability without undermining the efforts of President Djukanovic to resist Belgrade’s pressures.

The SNP has yet to earn a status as the loyal opposition, but the possibility that significant elements of the party wish to do so should not be foreclosed. It is worth exploring – in a cautious but deliberate manner – whether a Western relationship with the SNP that is based on a reciprocal willingness to identify what is best for the Montenegrins will help Montenegro survive in its end game with Milosevic.

Podgorica/Washington/Brussels, 28 March 2000

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

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