by Veseljko KOPRIVICA
The first session of the Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro – a sort of a corner stone for the new state – could have served as a warning. The session turned into a bickering match with plenty of insults on the account of the representatives of Montenegro, arguments, theatrical exits from the building, until the newly elected president of the parliament adjourned the session and postponed the election of Svetozar Marovic for the first head of the new state for a few days... Sufficient indication that in the new state one state will nevertheless be more equal.
Other business followed the similar track. Mostly due to efforts of the Montenegrin authorities. According to most sources, Montenegrin authorities came up with the idea to bend the Constitutional Charter through a political deal with Belgrade (until recently they claimed that the Charter was untouchable, like the Holy Gospels) so that Montenegro gets economy related posts in the Council of Ministers. No one is quite clear why these posts were so important, as Montenegro is hardly an economic powerhouse. Distinguished Montenegrin jurist and university professor from Podgorica Dr. Blagota Mitric claims:
“The Constitutional Charter is explicit on this matter and states that Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense cannot be from the same state. That solution is supposed to protect the interests of the smaller state, Montenegro. President of Serbia and Montenegro Svetozar Marovic has stated that it makes sense that Serbia holds ministries of foreign affairs and defense, but he forgets that the Constitutional Charter has not only political but also legal, state, international and all sorts of other significance”.
Mitric concludes: representatives of the Montenegrin authorities advocate the policy: take away everything but the Montenegrin name! But, there are also less gloomy interpretations. Since heads of both ministries requested by Serbia will rotate after two years, at that point Montenegro would have four, while Serbia would keep only one ministry!?
Violations of the Constitutional Charter at the very start and promotion of political agreements at its expense have become a new cause for disputes among Montenegrin political parties, although it was to be expected that the creation of the new state would have eased their chronic mutual animosity. The spokesperson of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) took care to confuse the ordinary mortals, who also have the role of voters, when necessary, even more by stating that “Montenegro hasn’t given up the ministries of foreign affairs and defense”. And he did that immediately after the presidency of the DPS proposed that Branko Lukovac become the Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, while Amir Nurkovic, candidate of the Socialdemocratic Party (SDP), would become the Minister for Internal Trade.
It is interesting that the SDP, DPS’ coalition partner, is convinced that the Constitutional Charter would be violated if Serbia gets both the ministries of foreign affairs and defense. Goran Danilovic, an official of the Serb People’s Party, seconds that opinion: “The Constitutional Charter is being violated for purely mundane reasons in an attempt to keep everyone happy, above all within the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS)”. Dragan Koprivica, the spokesperson of the Socialist People’s Party (SNP) joins in: “The DPS is trying to make a political deal with their allies in Serbia on the account of Montenegrin interests by openly undermining the Constitutional Charter”.
Vice-president of the SNP Zoran Zizic also has no kind words for the deal forged by the DOS and the DPS to distribute ministerial posts in violation of the Constitutional Charter. For him, this is an attempt to humiliate common sense. At the same time he warns that Milo Djukanovic, Montenegrin Prime Minister, has also applied himself to seeking loopholes in the Constitutional Charter. “Djukanovic has announced the so-called ‘authentic interpretation’ of the Charter. His ‘authentic interpretation’ is usually referred to elsewhere as legal violence, and is definitively not a way to speed up our integration in the European Union”. Therefore, Zizic announced that if the Charter is violated the SNP will file a suit with the Court of Serbia and Montenegro.
What a turnaround! Similar accusations – that Montenegrin officials in the federal authorities were working against the interests of Montenegro – came from the DPS on the account of the SNP. The “shipment” is the same, but the addressee has changed.
“What was announced by the Montenegrin and Serbian officials was an agreed violation of the Constitutional Charter and it is yet another unfortunate development, as far as the image of both the Montenegrin and Serbian politicians in the international community is concerned,” Rade Bojovic, a political analyst from Podgorica warns.
Dragan Kujovic, a DPS official, responds to these accusations by saying that “those who until recently supported everything done by Slobodan Milosevic and the authorities in Serbia are now raising their voices as defenders of Montenegrin interests. To me this smacks of opposition politics and an a priori rejection of everything coming from the authorities”.
The previous ruling team, consisting of representatives of pro-Yugoslav parties (SNP, SNS, and NS) from Montenegro, ended up in opposition defending Yugoslavia both in Montenegro and in the parliament of Serbia and Montenegro. Now, they seem to be getting ready to break up the coalition due to their inability to pick a single candidate for the president of Montenegro. And there will be many other topics for discussion. We can only guess how much bile will be poured regarding the division of the ambassadorial posts, if the distribution of posts in Belgrade is causing so much trouble.
By the way, the reshuffle of the top officials in the ruling party has already produced several victims. One of them is Mladen Vukcevic, now already a former president of the Executive Council of the DPS. He was just a tad hasty and offered his candidacy for the post of the deputy president of the parliament in Belgrade. At the same time he promoted the idea about a common strategy of Montenegrin representatives in Belgrade for the sake of protection of Montenegrin interests. However, a few days later he resigned outraged that Milorad Drljevic had been elected for the deputy president of the federal parliament.
For now, no one knows what will happen with Vukcevic’s idea about the common defense of Montenegrin interests. The block of pro-Serb parties says that they have no idea what that is about. Zoran Zizic, vice-president of the SNP, had an interesting comment regarding that: “Until now the protection of interests of Montenegro implied establishment of a private state in Montenegro. I am not implying that the same is now happening on the level of Serbia and Montenegro, but let’s wait and see”.
The media have speculated quite a lot about Milo Djukanovic’s attempts to keep Marovic away from Belgrade. It is also suggested that Djukanovic is responsible for sending Drljevic to Belgrade in place of Vukcevic. According to one version Djukanovic even demanded from Serbian authorities that they provide the first president of Serbia and Montenegro.
Thus, it turned out that those who a year ago claimed that in Montenegro Marovic was international community’s main player were right. Now, by moving to Belgrade, he has gotten out of Djukanovic’s control and in his inauguration speech, a former zealous Yugoslav, sent Yugoslavia to a museum. Without shedding a tear. But tears came running from the one who was least expected to show regret – political leader of the Liberal Alliance Miodrag Zivkovic. And then the DPS representative Miodrag Vukovic burst into tears over Zivkovic’s tears: “The political leader of the Liberal Alliance, Miodrag Zivkovic, cried like a child while watching us vote for the Constitutional Charter, so that even I ended up crying with him while reading his laments in the press. However, the Liberals quickly consoled themselves and sent two representatives to the Parliament of the union.”
Liberals are defending themselves by saying that they are going to Belgrade to defend Montenegro. And they do not believe that it is a sin to sit on two chairs, like the DPS and the SDP. But, they are surprised that Ranko Krivokapic [leader of the SDP] will not find it distasteful to earn a salary paid in Dinars for his work in Belgrade.
The gist of the public exchange about tears and salaries is actually something else. The so-called pro-independence parties, which are justifiably suspected of preferring independent Montenegro, will move their chronic quarrels to Belgrade. In Montenegro, they quarrel among themselves and with pro-Serb parties. And the other way round. Judging by their relations over the last decade, war axes will not be buried for a while. If so, can anyone expect that they will successfully defend Montenegrin interests in Belgrade, whatever that may be?