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.
Tens of thousands of followers of Serbian Orthodox Church staged regular protests throughout month over controversial new Freedom of Confession Act, leading to clashes with police, and tensions with neighbouring Serbia. Critics argue law, which was passed 27 Dec, provides for govt register of all religious sites and stipulates religious groups must provide historic evidence of ownership to keep their properties, seeks to reduce role of Serbian Orthodox Church and allow govt to claim religious sites as state property. Tens of thousands of Church followers 12 Jan staged protests in capital Podgorica and other major towns calling for annulment of law; protestors 25 Jan clashed with police in Podgorica after security forces used tear gas to disperse them. Montenegrin president 23 Jan discussed religious law with Serbian president in attempt to diffuse rising bilateral tensions; acknowledged that respective positions on dispute remain so far “distant”. Police 31 Jan arrested in Mojanovići village mother of Milan Knežević, leader of opposition Democratic Front party, along with party members and another family relative; Knežević said arrests were related to his party’s objections to religious law.
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.