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Facing the past

Milo Djukanovic and Momir Bulatovic with Montenegrin soldiers in 1991 
Milo Djukanovic and Momir Bulatovic with Montenegrin soldiers in 1991

In 1991 it looked as if Samuel Huntington was right: Orthodox Montenegrins participated in the shelling of Catholic Dubrovnik. Orthodox Montenegrin police officers deported Muslims who had fled to Montenegro to be killed by Bosnian Serbs.

"Rat za mir" ("war for peace") was the slogan under which Montenegro backed the Yugoslav Army's campaign in southern Croatia. It is also the name of a controversial film by Montenegrin filmmaker Koca Pavlovic made in 2003. It was only in 2007 that the film was shown for the first time in public in Montenegro. As Paul Hockenos and Jenni Winterhagen have written in May 2007:

"One year after declaring independence, a controversial film is forcing a visibly reluctant Montenegro to wrestle with the legacy of its role in the bloody conflicts of the early 1990s.

In 1991, as part of Serbia's war against Croatia, Yugoslav Army units led by Montenegrin officers and full of Montenegrin reservists ravaged many of the villages in the southernmost tip of Croatian Dalmatia and shelled the historic port city of Dubrovnik, causing millions of euros in damage and hundreds of civilian deaths. Throughout the duration of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, Montenegro remained in a federal state with Serbia until 2003 when the two countries formed a loose state union. In 1997, Montenegro expressed regret for its part in the wars and the consequent atrocities. However, the process of coming to terms with the past has been selective and superficial, say opposition critics."

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