Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 22:33:09 -0500 (CDT)
From: Greek Helsinki Monitor <>
Subject: [balkanhr] AIM: People's Assemblies In Montenegro
Article: 76081
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
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People's Assemblies In Montenegro: Tribal Threats

By Zoran Radulovic, AIM Podgorica, 6 September 1999

Under no condition shall we accept separation of Montenegro from Yugoslavia, the community of states of the Serb people which we inseparably belong to ethnically, historically and spiritually, this is the joint message from gatherings which have until now been organised in Kuci, Rovci, Vasojevici, Uskoci, Drobnjaci and Zeta.

The gathered inhabitants of Rovci (near Kolasin) sent word that for them the call for sovereign Montenegro is the same as a call to take up arms. In Golubovci (near Podgorica) it was heard that natives of Zeta would not give up on what their ancestors dreamt of for centuries: that all the Serbs would unite in a single state. Their northern neighbours, residents of Kuci (of course, only those present at the people's assembly) demonstrated intolerance towards non-Orthodox population of Montenegro with the following message: We shall not allow that the decisive role in decision-making about our state be given to those against whom our ancestors have fought for freedom for centuries.

During all that time, in the vicinity of the border between Serbia and Montenegro, the speakers at the People's assembly of Vasojevici were specific: there will be no referendum (for independent Montenegro), because it has already taken place at Vucji dol, Carev Laz, at Krusi, in Moraca and in Mojkovac, but primarily at Kosovo polje... There can be no doubt: tribal gatherings are a political response of Serb Montenegro to the attempt of Montenegrin authorities to rearrange relations between Serbia and Montenegro in the federation. The question that arises is: who stands in the background? For the time being, all gatherings are formally organised and chaired by local, semi-anonymous tribal committees. But it is no secret that in fact the initiators and organisers of these gatherings are the Socialist People's Party (SNP) and the Serb Orthodox Church (SPC) in Montenegro which are loyal to Milosevic. Vice president of SNP Predrag Bulatovic, announcing the tribal gatherings, states that if Montenegro will not have the federation, Serbia will let it go, but the question of its state and legal status must be discussed and decided about within Montenegro itself it.

At the same time, the head of the SPC in Montenegro, metropolitan Amfilohije, precisely said that the most important task of SPC was preservation of unity of the Serb Yugoslavia and prevention of secession of Montenegro. Therefore, one need not be surprised that tribal gatherings at which everything that is not Serb is insulted and intimidated, are accompanied by tolling of bells of the SPC which corroborate with their divine chiming every word in the adopted 'Proclamations'.

Although, conditionally speaking, these were poorly attended (according to daily press, the number of the persons gathered varied from a few hundred to two or three thousand) messages sent from them caused evident concern. And not only among representatives of the current Montenegrin authorities. Majority inhabitants of Montenegro, urban and democratic, remember very well that with similar gatherings and messages in the beginning of this decade began the blood-stained Yugoslav crisis.

In 1991 the Croatian story began with similar self-organizing and after three-year war ended in a tragic exodus of the Serb population. The first thing that at the time radical Serb leaders headed by Jovan Raskovic and fully controlled and supported by Milosevic's regime did was to establish people's assemblies which then started forming Serb autonomous regions. The rest of the story is well known. Something similar has happened in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

A special reason for concern is the fact that a large number of the inhabitants of Montenegro are more than well armed. Along with traditional pistols, revolvers and hunting weapons, in houses, sheds, in pits, an enviable quantity of automatic weapons is also to be found hidden. They were once distributed to its supporters by officials in charge of the job of the then united Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), and in the past few months the job was taken over by the Army of Yugoslavia and Montenegrin Ministry of Internal Affairs. The weapons are still distributed solely according to political affiliation and verified loyalty to the regime in Belgrade or Podgorica, and a few previous incidents are sufficient indication that among those who are armed there is an unnegligible number of sufficiently wild and impulsive men who would be only too happy to use the weapons the first chance they get.

Therefore it is clear where the initiated campaign and the threat of establishment of self-administered regions could lead Montenegro. Civil war around here begins with singing patriotic songs accompanied by fiddling the one-string folk fiddle, Montenegrin deputy prime minister and president of the People's Party Novak Kilibarda reminds and states that provoking of tribal brotherly awareness is the response to the platform of Montenegrin government which is very skillfully schemed by Slobodan Milosevic through servile Belgrade Montenegrins. From the other member of the ruling Montenegrin coalition along with disapproval a warning arrived. Montenegro is nobody's property, but especially not of the tribes, says professor of Law School in Podgorica and member of SDP Council Radovan Radonjic.

In the meantime, rural population of Montenegro is still mostly amused by these gatherings. One of the latest jokes says: In Montenegro a civil war cannot break out; only a peasants' rebellion is possible.

Nevertheless, the regime has decided to take action. While there is still time. In the beginning of this week, leaders of DPS set out following in the foosteps of the people's assemblies, headed by the highest officials of the party and Montenegrin state: president Milo Djukanovic, prime minister Filip Vujanovic and chairman of the Assembly Svetozar Marovic. How serious DPS is about this business is best testified by the fact that the first who will take action is president Djukanovic himself: after London, Paris, Vienna, Bonn, Moscow and Athens, he will present his views to the prominent politicians and entrepreneurs in Berane and Zabljak.

It seems that for the time being Montenegrin regime does not show signs of disturbance or panic. On the contrary. When he recently visited Berane in the north of the Republic, President Djukanovic said: Montenegro knows how to build and how to defend the state. It is quite clear: the message was sent to the addresses of orgnaisers of tribal gatherings.

Whether these activities accompanied by evidently intensified occupation of Montenegrin police with tribal gatherings will yield results or, according to the wishes of Belgrade regime, the ideal of unreserved Serbdom will prevail—will soon become clear. Perhaps at one of the next assemblies announced or just planned to take place in Piva, Moraca, Grblje, Pastrovici...