Friday, May 19, 2006

Heart, history to sway Montenegro independence vote

By Ellie Tzortzi

BELGRADE, May 19 (Reuters) - Montenegro votes in an independence referendum on Sunday which could dissolve its union with Serbia and allow the tiny Balkan state to seek membership of the wealthy European Union on its own.

The choice has more to do with Montenegrins' feelings for Serbia than for the abstract union established three years ago in which Serbia is the dominant partner.

The two Balkan neighbours have been together for almost a century -- in two kingdoms, in Josip Broz Tito's socialist Yugoslavia and in the rump Yugoslav federation of late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

But Montenegro's pro-independence government says ending the union will bring economic development and a faster path to the EU, which this month froze talks on closer ties over Belgrade's failure to arrest war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic.

The pro-union camp says Montenegro is too small to survive alone and cannot afford to lose out on the jobs, education and health care their far more populous neighbour has to offer.

But in the Balkans, where politics constantly refers back to old battles, long-dead kings and treason plots, it is emotional arguments about identity and belonging that sway voters most.

Serbia is the dominant partner, with 7.5 million people against over 600,000 in Montenegro and its economy is 10 times bigger.

Most ethnic Montenegrins, 43 percent, are likely to choose independence, as will Muslims, Albanians and other minorities. The 32 percent ethnic Serbs are likely to back the union.

Under pressure from the EU, Montenegro agreed to referendum rules that say at least 50 percent must vote and at least 55 percent must choose independence for the result to be valid.


SEPARATE NATION?

Are Montenegrins a separate nation or is it time to undo the 1918 union with Serbia some say was little more than annexation?

"You've always had those who wanted an independent state and those who say Serbs and Montenegrins are the same nation and should be in the same state," said senior researcher Milos Besic of Podgorica's Centre for Democracy and Human Rights.

"I don't think this referendum can resolve that. The division will exist, arguments will remain, for a couple of generations."

Kristof Bender of the European Stability Initiative said supporters of independence do not see the issue as breaking away from Serbia, but rather as reaffirming their statehood.

"These people often reproach Belgrade and say: 'What is this rhetoric about losing Montenegro? It was never part of Serbia."

"But in the unionist camp, some people identify very strongly with the Serbian identity, so they perceive independence as breaking up something that belongs together."

Analysts see few practical effects from a divorce. The two already have different laws, policy and currency, sharing only defence and diplomacy. Their joint parliament barely meets.

Bender said separation would allow both to focus more on their domestic problems and on pursuing EU membership.

Serbia this year also faces the loss of Albanian-dominated Kosovo province, adding to an impression of abandonment that plainly irks some Serbs.

Analysts said few Serbs saw Montenegro as a state with its own history, culture and distinct identity. They tended to view the independence drive as yet another breakaway bid.

"You mustn't forget that Belgrade was capital of the old socialist federation, and there was a similar feeling that Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia broke away," Bender said. "Montenegro is now the last to go."

11 comments:

Sacred Dardanicum said...

Well everyone knows that Montenegro was a independent country up to 1918 then they throw away it to join the SKS Kingdom (Serbian Croatian Slovenians Kingdom). But the history witnesses the way how Serbia behave to ward the Montenegro. Much more the developments in Serbia during 1990-ies pushed the montenegro together with Serbia in UN Sanctions and now for them is much better if they vote for Independent Montenegro so they will miss the punishement that Serbia will face down due to Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic and also not joining EU.

Liberty Stands said...

lets watch first what happens, then congratiolations are in order

Pietro05 said...

interesting!

Montenegro was indeed an independent state before 1918. So was Serbia.

In 1918, Croatians and Slovenians rushed to join new, south Slave state freely.
Croatia had strong reasons for that, the same one in 1918 and again, in 1945 - in Second world war, Croatians participated on Nazi Germany side.
As far as Montenegro is concerned, they are not separate nation but the Serbs living in Montenegro; they became ´nation´ sometime in the early fifties of last century.

Sanctions against, then SR Yugoslavia, Karadzic and Mladic, illegal NATO aggression...you, sacred dardanicum, are mixing things - ecause of your lack of knoledge or you are just mean?!?

Sacred Dardanicum said...

pietro05 i am from Kosova I know a lot about Balkans history so don't mix things

I know even for Beogradksi Pashalluk.

And I know about SKS and How the king was killed.

Croatian joined to SKS because of language now they are wiping out that language.

The NATO Aggression can be seen only from Serbians as Illegal. Do you consider the killings of Albanians during 1900-1999 was legal or illegal.

Also during WWII we Albanians had a participated on Nazi's campaign against Serbians of course.

Not only Croatia.

Well, as it concerns to Montenegrin they even do not speak the ekavski dialect of Serbian but they do speak jekavski and they will become in near future just like Czech and Slovak langauges what are facing now.

Pietro05 said...

to sacred dardanium:

if I do understand it correctly (I read it even twice just to make sure I got it right), you just wrote that you are proud of Albanians´ in Kosovo and Metohija Nazi past?

Secondly, I am not sure what killings between 1900-1999 you are refering to?

Thirdly, as you are probably aware of, in both World wars, Serbs were on Allies side, therefore against Nazism.
And as far as it concerns shameful NATO aggression against independent country, the only ones who were favourable of it, are people behind it.
If this is the case, you would probably agree that NATO countries should pay war reparation damages before moving forward on any issues.
Or you consider it legal only because the US says so?
And the last but not least, slight differents in serbian language exist in Serbia itself, sometimes two cities speak differently (Belgrade, Novi Sad, Uzice...)

Who is mixing things here?

Kristian said...

Your both mixing things up! Now you guys happy? Each trying to put a spin to their story to suit their own opinion.

As far as the killings from 1900, there were a lot of atrocities committed till the nation of Yugoslavia was formed, then the communists did a hell of a job of exterminating ppl anywhere in FROY. Then seperatists that wanted to join Albania were removed in many ways: killed, jailed, etc..

There are a lot of things that happen that are not documented in life you know!

And let me remind the both of you that Balkan pride hurts us more then you can imagine. It blinds us from reason and things are conveyed by emotions and not logic.

Kristian said...

Oh I forgot just my opinion!

Peace to all!

brit said...

What about the killings by albanians on serbs roma etc(and destruction of religous buildings) since 1999 to the present day, is that not illegal.You albanians are just full of human faeces. What about Kosovo under the albanians being the transit point for drugs and human trafficking since 1999, is that not illegal. Crawl back under that stone from where you come from pondlife. NATO has failed for all its duties to ethnic minorities and crime while Kosovo has been under its juridstiction.

Chris Blaku said...

Actually, to put things into a more accurate perspective, the Serbians were not against Nazism, as you claim Pietro, until they were invaded by the Germans and their interests were threatened. After all, many years before World War 2, Belgrade's mayor had the audicity to celebrate his city as the only "Jew free city in all of europe."

Additionally, numerous Jewish groups and countless international historians have found the claims of mass Jewish extermination at the hands of the SS Skenderbeg division to be lackluster claims, at their best. Although there is no doubt that the murder of the Jews at the hands of the Nazi sponsored group did take place, it was minimal in comparison and not deemed to be Anti-semitic. The actions of the Albanians during World War 2 are instead celebrated and recognized in the Holocaust museum in Israel as heroic, humane, and inspirational.

Also, let's not quarrel about the origins of the Montenegrin state. It was founded by French support after Prince Nikola appeared before the League of Nations in rags and tears, begging that his land be free of alleged Muslim barbarians, wherein the League, in its infinite wisdom, chose to create the state of Montenegro in a land populated by Albanians. The battle of Ulqin subsequently followed, wherein a group of loosely armed Albanians from all four viyalets, were ambushed by a regiment of Montenegrin and Serbian troops, eight batallions of Ottoman troops sent in to reinforce the decision of the League of Nations following the loss of the Ottomans to the Russians, and seventeen war vessels constantly pounding the Albanians into submission after six months of hectic battle.


Do not blame the Albanians for their distrust of their neighbors and their continent, they have been bitten before.

Chris Blaku said...

Also, the alleged harassment and mass murder you claim has taken place following the UN administration of Kosova is, as is usual with Serbian claims, ridiculously overstated and astronomically overblown. Your nation is responsible for the death of a quarter million human beings only a decade ago. Over a million raped. An entire continent rocked by violence in an age of unparalleled prosperity. You were the cause, you continue to be the cause of instability in the region. The state of Albania has lived peacefully, without any form of aggression against its neighbors, for nearly a century. No informal annexations, no halfway invasions, no bombings. In stark contrast, the nation of Serbia has caused a World War, shattered a powerful union, and caused NATO to go to war for the first time in its history. I suggest you readdress your claims.

Mir said...

"The actions of the Albanians during World War 2 are instead celebrated and recognized in the Holocaust museum in Israel as heroic, humane, and inspirational."

Funny how this information wasnt "common knowledge" until the 1999 bombings when CNN's propaganda machine was working tirelessly. You forgot to mention that Jesus and Buddha were also Albanian.

"Your nation is responsible for the death of a quarter million human beings only a decade ago. Over a million raped. "

Wow. Talk about "ridiculously overstated and astronomically overblown". Assuming you are talking about Bosnia... the population today is 4,498,976 (CIA) and it was probably smaller in 1990s during the wars. If "we" raped 1million women that means about 1 out of every 2 Bosnian women were raped by a Serbian soldier.

Lets assume the Bosnian Serbian forces numbered 100,000 in the 1990's. That means every Serbian soldier raped 10 Bosnian women.

Do you truly believe your own "astronomical" numbers?

I dont deny rapes happened. They happen in war often. But you completely underestimate what the JNA (that many of the Bosnian soldiers had been in) was. They were very disciplined and trained. This idea that they were wild animals running around doing nothing but raping and massacring is completely idiotic. But CNN already wrote the history of the Balkans for the world so this arguing is pretty meaningless.