Montenegro and the referendum on independence:KOSTUNICA-DJUKANOVIC SECRET AGREEMENT!

Posted in Europe | 03-May-06

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has carried out a public opinion survey in Montenegro on the occasion of the announced referendum where the citizens of Montenegro will decide on the status of their state, i.e. whether they want to live in an independent state of Montenegro or in a state union with Serbia, which will take place on 21 May 2006. For the purposes of the survey the citizens were also asked if they would participate at the announced referendum. The most interesting sections from the comprehensive survey are given below:

The IFIMES International Institute has carried out a public opinion survey in Montenegro on the occasion of the announced referendum on independence which will take place on 21 May 2006.

Data on the sample:
• The sample: random, three-stage
• Size of the sample: 1.010 respondents (male and female citizens of lawful age)
• Methodology: telephone survey
• Period: April 25 to 27, 2006
• Degree of reliability: 95%
• Control: per 10% specimens
• Standard deviation: +/- 3
• Territory: Montenegro

1. Will you vote for the independent Montenegro at the referendum on 21 May 2006?

- YES 49,30 %

- NO 43,80 %

- UNDECIDED 6,90 %

Data on the sample:
• The sample: random, three-stage
• Size of the sample: 1.010 respondents (male and female citizens of lawful age)
• Methodology: telephone survey
• Period: April 25 to 27, 2006
• Degree of reliability: 95%
• Control: per 10% specimens
• Standard deviation: +/- 3
• Territory: Montenegro

2. Will you participate at the announced referendum on independence of Montenegro which will take place on 21 may 2006?

- YES 82,30 %

- NO 17,70 %

The announced referendum on the independence of the Republic of Montenegro which will be held on 21 May 2006 is characterised by the polarisation and severe referendum campaign. The polarisation of the political scene in Montenegro has led to the political phenomenon of the so called "Ukrainisation" of Montenegro in which two antagonistic political blocks have been formed: 1. The block favouring the state union with Serbia comprises: SNP (Socialist People's Party), NS (People's Party), DSS (Democratic Serbian Party), SNS (Serbian People's Party) etc. 2. The block striving for the independent Montenegro includes: DPS (Democratic Party of Socialists), SDP (Social Democratic Party), LP (Liberal Party) etc. Regardless of the result of the referendum, the political polarisation of Montenegro will continue in the post-referendum period, which raises the question as to whether such a state is able to function at all. The analysts believe that under such circumstances there will be no real political winner of the referendum in Montenegro but rather a kind of "collective defeat". A similar situation can be observed in Ukraine which is trying to find a way out of the political crisis caused by the polarisation into two totally opposing political blocks.

The recent secret agreement concluded in Rome by the Prime Ministers of Serbia and Montenegro, Vojislav Kostunica and Milo Djukanovic respectively, where Kostunica "blessed" the independence of Montenegro, leads to the question as to whether the block for the state union with Serbia is the object of manipulation of the official Belgrade just like the Serbs were during the formation of the new states in the region of the former Yugoslavia starting with Slovenia and Croatia and followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

The minorities in Montenegro will influence the referendum result in several aspects. The notion of "minority" has a very specific meaning in Montenegro since the latest census in Montenegro showed that there is no majority nation in this state. The presence of the minorities at the referendum will not be conditioned by the will of their political leaders but by the maturity and responsibility of the minorities themselves regarding the future status of Montenegro. The political leaders of minorities who are directly influenced by the Djukanovic regime do not have the absolute support of the voting body. An example of such leaders in Montenegro is the Albanian minority leader Ferhat Dinosha who represents "Djukanovic's Trabant" and who has a minor influence over the Albanian voting body. Consequently, an Albanian NGO in Montenegro called the "Citizens Initiative", which strives for the establishment of partnership relations with the official Podgorica, enjoys better reputation and support in the voting body than the DUA (Democratic Union of Albanians) led by Dinosha. Research has shown that the Montenegrin regime should involve also the Albanian leaders outside Montenegro in the resolving of open issues related to the Albanians in Montenegro in order to eliminate or minimise the manipulation of the minorities by the regime. Similarly, other NGOs also represent an important factor in the political life of Montenegro. For example, the "Group for Changes" has a specific political importance and significant support of the citizens which is greater than the support given to certain political parties.

A similar situation can be observed in case of the Bosniaks in Montenegro whom the present regime has divided into two nations: the Bosniaks and the Muslims, although they obviously form one nation. The division is based on the definition made by the leading regime according to which the citizens who identify themselves as the Bosniaks belong to Bosnia and Herzegovina as the country of their origin and therefore automatically have the minority status in Montenegro, while the citizens who identify themselves as the Muslims represent the autochthon inhabitants of Montenegro of the Islam religion. This represents the well-known ideology of the totalitarian communist regime of former Yugoslavia which has very few followers in the ex-Yugoslavian region, Djukanovic being one of them. Although well aware of this fact the international officials avoid mentioning it.

The IFIMES International Institute is of the opinion that Montenegro will most probably become an independent state. However, this will not eliminate the problems present in the Montenegrin society which were caused by the political polarisation of the state, but rather open the question of the general functioning of the state and its long-term viability. The European Union approached the Montenegro issue very superficially without taking into account the complexity of the political and social scene which is still very much influenced by the traditional tribal structure of the Montenegrins as one of the very few nations in the Balkans still functioning on that basis.

Ljubljana, 03 May 2006

Internationale Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) – Ljubljana

Director:
Bakhtyar Aljaf

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