Montenegro during the Milosevic era
In February 1997 Milo Djukanovic, the Montenegrin prime minister, told the Belgrade weekly Vreme that, "Milosevic is a man of obsolete political ideas, lacking the ability to form a strategic vision of the problems this country is facing."; The interview marked Djukanovic's break with Milosevic, his mentor and ally for nearly a decade. It was also the first step towards the re-establishment of Montenegrin statehood, an idea first floated by Montenegro's liberals soon after the break-up of communist Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The path towards independence however was to prove long, difficult and divisive. It would take nearly a decade for Montenegro to divorce from Serbia.
After Djukanovic took control of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) in 1997, forcing Milosevic loyalists to leave and create their own party, Montenegro began to assume more and more state functions, from border management to foreign policy. During NATO's bombing campaign of Yugoslav military and Serbian security forces in Kosovo, in Serbia and some in Montenegro too, from March to June 1999, the republic remained neutral. In November 1999 it adopted the German Mark as its own currency. Its special police forces were built up as a serious para-military force which could take on Milosevic controlled Yugoslav troops in Montenegro should the need arise. Fears that Milosevic, struggling to stay in power in Serbia, could instigate violence in Montenegro fortunately did not materialise and his efforts to regain political control in the small republic failed. By the time of Milosevic's fall from power in October 2000, the only state functions that were effectively carried out at the federal level were defence and airspace control.
The removal of Milosevic opened the way for the normalisation of Montenegrin-Serbian relations. It also removed the rationale for the hitherto unconditional support given to the Montenegrin leadership by the EU and the US, which had mainly consisted of large transfers of money which were handed over without any serious incentives or demands for reform.
6 May 2011
Report: Autonomy, dependency, security. The Montenegrin dilemma (2000)
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