Summary

  • The threat of an attack on Montenegro by President Slobodan Milosevic's regime is increasingly likely and may take any form ranging from an indirect "constitutional" coup to a more direct attempt to enlist pro-Milosevic forces in Montenegro in acts of violence against the democratic regime.
  • Although Montenegro remains a politically divided society, it is making great strides toward establishing inclusive political and social institutions.
  • Montenegro's democratic government threatens Milosevic's legitimacy as FRY president and weakens his authoritarian political base. A respite in Kosovo may provide him an opportunity to reverse Montenegro's democratic consolidation by removing the Djukanovic government.
  • Montenegro does not seek de jure independence from the FRY, but the de facto independence it does enjoy represents a loss of control by Milosevic.
  • Although Montenegro is a small country it plays a significant role in the Balkans. It is an example of successful transition from communism to democratic pluralism and economic liberalism. Montenegro's actions and policies relating to the Kosovo crisis and the prospects for a democratic transition in Serbia are pivotal.
  • Given its regional significance the international community must consider programs to ensure Montenegro's democratic consolidation and autonomy from Belgrade. These might include stationing an OSCE observer mission in Montenegro, continued Western support for democratization, and establishing relations with Western governments separate from Belgrade through military-to-military contact programs and national drug interdiction and anti-crime organizations such as the U.S. Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI).
  • Such efforts would not support Montenegrin independence-a stance that is not advocated by the Djukanovic government-but encourage cooperation with the West, discourage the spread of violence in the FRY, and increase prospects for Serbia's democratic transition.

 

About the Report

In December 1998, at a meeting at the United States Institute of Peace, Montenegrin government and parliamentary representatives expressed their concerns regarding the possibility of a Serbian crackdown on Montenegro's democracy movement and discussed with Balkans Working Group participants possible options for avoiding a crisis. At an earlier meeting on October 14, 1998 the working group had discussed the growing threat to Montenegro from Serbia and recommended preventive measures to be taken by the international community and the Montenegrins themselves. This report is a summary by senior fellow Daniel Serwer, program officer Lauren Van Metre, and research assistant James Rae of the working group's discussion and the presentation by Montenegrin officials.

The Balkans Working Group is composed of representatives from government agencies, think tanks, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) who are expert on Balkan matters. Chaired by John Menzies, former U.S. ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina and USIP Senior Fellow, the group met periodically throughout 1997 and 1998 to discuss threats to and support for Balkan stability and implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. The objective is not to reach consensus within the group but to explore issues and options.

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