Post-modern nation: the path to statehood
The fall of Slobodan Milosevic, then president of a Yugoslavia consisting only of Serbia and Montenegro, in October 2000 removed the principal reason for US and EU support to Milo Djukanovic, then Montenegrin president, who had over the preceding years been moving to a pro-independence position. Under strong pressure from Javier Solana, then EU foreign policy chief, the formation of a "State Union of Serbia and Montenegro"was agreed in 2002. Either state had the right to opt out of it however after three years.
In practical terms, the State Union amounted only to recognition of the status quo. Montenegro did not have to hand back any of the powers it had acquired since 1998 which included monetary policy, border control and foreign policy. With most of the Montenegrin elite opposed to continuing in a political union with Serbia, as ESI research from this period showed, the joint state was doomed.
Montenegrins voted for independence in May 2006. Despite strong resistance from sections of the political opposition and the Serbian leadership, the separation was smooth and peaceful. The government and the opposition agreed on a formula proposed by the EU, according to which the referendum would be valid only if at least 55 percent of voters cast their ballots in favour of independence. It was to be a close call. On 21 May 2006, 55.5 percent of Montenegrins voted for separation from Serbia. Independence was declared by the Montenegrin parliament on 3 June 2006.
While the young state faces a number of issues related to identity, for example, in connection with language and religion, Montenegro's ethnic diversity and its traditionally good inter-ethnic relations have become a part of the country's identity. Together with Kosovo, Montenegro is the only state in the region that is explicitly defined in its constitution as a state of its citizens, as opposed to a state of the dominant ethnic group or groups. Most of its mainstream parties include politicians of differing ethnic backgrounds.
6 May 2011
See also the case studies on trade, citizenship and property law commissioned by ESI in 2001 as part its Serbia-Montenegro project.
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