KOSTUNICA: This visit to Montenegro will have the official character and I am not going to Podgorica to continue consultations regarding the composition of the Federal Government. These consultations will be continued in Belgrade, where they were initiated. My visit to Montenegro is an expression of my readiness to show that it is one of two equal units of the common state; I want to demonstrate that the president of FRY should follow the situation in the other federal unit and frequently visit Montenegro, if he is from Serbia. I will continue to do so. I will consult the authorities in Montenegro and representatives of different political factions.
VIJESTI: Do you at this moment control the Yugoslav Army (YA)? Will you discuss the changes in the military leadership at the first meeting of the Supreme Defense Council?
KOSTUNICA: I've had frequent contacts with the Chief of Staff of the YA and the Chiefs of Staff of the YA ever since I started my tenure as the president of FRY. My assessment of the Army was confirmed by the recent events. In the recent events, the YA behaved the way it was supposed to: it was objective, neutral, and accepted the change of government as something normal in a democratic system.
Naturally, every topic is open for discussion. As is well known, the Supreme Defense Council hasn't met for a long time. As soon as the new meeting takes place, that will be a chance to clear up and resolve many unresolved and unclear issues in an open and frank conversation. I regret that that meeting hasn't happened yet. The reason for that is well known and is due to injuries suffered by the president of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, in a traffic accident. I must add that both president Djukanovic and the president of Serbia, Milan Milutinovic, have accepted invitations to a meeting of the Supreme Defense Council. If there is readiness for dialogue and if there is an open discussion of all issues, I believe that sooner or later, all problems can be solved.
VIJESTI: The Montenegrin public was disturbed by your statement made in an interview that "Montenegro cannot be an independent state"?
KOSTUNICA: The statement you mention is a part of my interview to one of French TV stations, and obviously, the way it was interpreted, does not fit my views on this issue, repeated many times so far. Therefore, there are no doubts regarding the position and rights of Montenegro in the present Federation. My stand on this issue has been known since 1993. I advocated a referendum on independence in both Serbia and Montenegro, as a test of popular support for the common state. If it turns out that the people support a common state, then we will initiate a democratic dialogue to organize and redefine our relations, which in practice implies the writing of a new constitution. This has been my view on this issue since the common declaration of the Democratic Party of Serbia and the People's Party of Montenegro, adopted in 1993, and to this date nothing has changed in my views. Therefore, a referendum is the only way to test the will of voters in both federal units. I would also support a referendum in only one federal unit, in Montenegro, as the means for testing of the popular will. There should be no doubt about that either. I cannot support any other path of action. Only a democratic expression of the popular will in both federal units, or only in one of them, is acceptable for me. Therefore, nothing in my attitude with respect to this issue has changed. My information and convictions indicate that a majority supports a common state of Serbia and Montenegro, and I do not have anything against a democratic test of that support.
VIJESTI: How, in your opinion, should the new Federal Government be formed, having in mind that the ruling coalition in Montenegro, "To Live Better", did not participate in the Federal Elections because of the manner in which the Federal Constitution was amended?
KOSTUNICA: It is a very simple problem. Actually, we have a group of parties that participated in the Federal Elections and have representation in the Federal Parliament, and another group, led by president Djukanovic, which according to the result of the 1998 elections enjoys the support of a majority of voters in Montenegro. That of course causes problems in the discussions about the formation of a new Federal Government. I find it very acceptable that both sides be consulted and their views be taken into account in the formation of the new government.
In a five-hours long exchange of opinion behind the closed doors, as Vijesti found out, the SDP insisted that a referendum be organized as soon as possible, and by December 23 at the latest, in order to beat the forthcoming Serbian general elections. The SDP believes that the outcome of these elections, which implies the total dismantling of the Milosevic's regime, would be a signal for the international community to hurry with a recognition of FR Yugoslavia and apply pressure with the goal of setting up a three-member alliance of Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo within the existing borders.
The People's Party believes that after the departure of Milosevic from power, the key reasons for the secession of Montenegro from the common state have disappeared, but it does not oppose a referendum, while it believes that it is impossible to organize it properly in the near future. The NS demands that the so-called [sic] loopholes in the existing law on referendum be first removed in the regular procedure in the Parliament and that three to six months are put aside for the campaign.
The leaders of the DPS avoided, according to our sources, to take a definite stand regarding a possible date for the referendum, expressing conviction that first it would be necessary to try to reach with the DOS an agreement on the future alliance of sovereign states, which would imply the independence of both members. In that sense the modification of the Platform About New Relations With Serbia is planned. The new Platform should include a demand for two seats in the U.N., both for Serbia and Montenegro.
The DPS claims that signals for readiness for such a resolution of the relations of Montenegro and Serbia have already been received from the DOS.
At a meeting which took place while in Belgrade protesters were overthrowing Milosevic's regime, a Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Leader of the People's Party, Savo Durdevac initiated the attack. He accused the chief of Montenegrin Diplomacy of not having the government's mandate to promote his views regarding the independence of Montenegro. Durdevac was prompted by Minister Lukovac's statement given to The New York Times and Toronto Star, also carried by Vijesti, that Kostunica will not have legitimacy in Montenegro since 80 percent of citizens boycotted the elections. The president of the executive council of the NS and the Minister for Social Policy, Predrag Drecun, later also criticized Lukovac using the same arguments.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs refused to retract his statement.
Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic offered a rather "lukewarm" defense of Lukovac, the ministers from the DPS were mostly silent, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs was only supported by the government members from the SDP, emphasizing that ministers have the right to advocate their own, rather than government's views, states our source.
Lukovac is the only minister in the government who is not a member of any political party.