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Symbols of statehood

Old hospital - Copyright by ESI The old government building -  Copyright by ESI
Old hospital – the old government building

A stroll though Cetinje today shows the former consulates that are reminders of this state tradition. There is the old hospital (fallen into decay), King Nikola's Palace, and the old government building.

However, despite Montenegro's statehood and its long tradition of resistance to Ottoman rule, the Montenegrin population had not developed a national consciousness in the modern sense. Like all his predecessors and most of his subjects, Nicholas I (1841–1921), Montenegro's last ruler, considered himself Serb.

He pursued Serbia-friendly policies and the two entities were never at war. Already before World War One, the idea of union with Serbia enjoyed considerable support, but due to Austro-Hungarian opposition it was not a real option. Nicholas himself was also reluctant, but after World War I –with Nicholas in exile in France – Montenegro was merged with Serbia and immediately incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. To this day the legality of this process remains hotly disputed.

Nevertheless, the concept of a Montenegrin nation, fostered during socialist times, is popular in Cetinje. Unsurprisingly it was a pro-independence stronghold ever since the debate about Montenegrin statehood resurfaced after the disintegration of socialist Yugoslavia.

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