Happily divorced: Serbia and Montenegro
In February 1997 Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic 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 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 was to prove long and difficult, however. It would take nearly a decade until Montenegro could split from Serbia.
After Djukanovic took over the ruling "Democratic Party of Socialists" (DPS) in 1997, forcing Milosevic loyalists to create their own party, Montenegro began to assume more and more state functions, from border control to foreign policy. In November 1999 it introduced the German Mark as legal tender. By the time of Milosevic's ouster in October 2000, the only state functions that were effectively executed at the federal level were defence and airspace control.
However, Milosevic's ouster also removed the main reason for the US and the EU to back Djukanovic and his separatist policies. Under strong pressure from EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, a "State Union of Serbia and Montenegro" was created in 2002.
In practical terms, however, this amounted only to recognition of the status quo. Montenegro did not have to hand back any of the powers it had acquired. With most of the Montenegrin elite opposed to political union with Serbia – as ESI research from this period demonstrates – the joint state was doomed.
Montenegrins voted for independence in May 2006. Despite strong resistance by parts of the political opposition and the Serbian leadership, the separation was smooth and peaceful.
20 April 2011