Update No: 125 - (26/10/07)
Montenegro separated from its former federal partner, Serbia, in June 2006 after
a referendum on independence on May 21, narrowly won. It was an independent
state until 1918 when its leaders opted to join the newly-formed Kingdom of
Serbs, Croats and Slovenes that later became Yugoslavia.
During communist times Montenegro was the smallest among the six-republics in
federal Yugoslavia. It was the only republic to stay in a federation with Serbia
There is little doubt that most of its people are now glad to be free of the
Serbian connection. Montenegro has a population of some 680,000, of whom 43 per
cent are Montenegrins, 32 per cent Serbs, 12 per cent Bosniak Muslims, 5 per
cent Albanians and 1 per cent Croats. A re-run of the referendum would be won
with a far more handsome majority than the 55% of last year.
It is now on the map. People the world over, but particularly Russians, are
flocking to this jewel on the Adriatic. They are coming to buy! Its property
market is soaring. Prosperity is at hand.
Nevertheless, there are teething problems. It has not been clear for some time
exactly how the new state should be constituted.
The parliament of Montenegro, Europe's youngest state, adopted a new
constitution on October 19. The document, Montenegro's first constitution since
it regained its independence, was backed by the governing coalition, headed by
Prime Minister Zeljko Sturanovic, together with a part of the opposition.
Following months of deliberations in the parliament, the ruling coalition
managed to secure the two-thirds majority required for the adoption of the
constitution to avoid yet another referendum. In addition to the governing
Democratic Party of Socialists and Social Democratic Party, the document was
approved also by the opposition Movement for Changes, the Liberal Party and by
parties that represent Montenegro's Bosniak/Muslim, Albanian and Croat
communities. 55 MPs voted for, 21 against and five abstained in the 81-seat
The new constitution stipulates that Montenegro is a state of citizens instead
Parties that represent Montenegro's Serbs, the Serb List, the People's Party,
the Serb People's Party and the Socialist People's Party, vehemently opposed the
text of the constitution. The pro-Belgrade Serb parties insisted that Serbian
should be Montenegro's official language, and objected to the adoption of the
red flag with the Montenegrin royal eagle, instead of the red, white and blue
standard that is similar to the Serbian flag.
The new identity - Europe
The Montenegrins need a new association. They are used to being part of a
federation. What better confederation than the EU?
Montenegro has signed a treaty with the European Union which brings the country
closer to membership of the 27-nation bloc.
Zeljko Sturanovic, Montenegro's prime minister, signed the Stabilisation and
Association Agreement (SAA) with EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on October
15. The SAA concerns a gradual introduction into the EU free-trade zone and must
still be individually ratified by the 27 EU member states.
The proper implementation of the agreement is "the gateway to EU candidate
status one day", said Olli Rehn, the EU enlargement commissioner.
The procedure could take up to two years so an interim economic accord will come
into force on January 1.
That deal will allow free access for Montenegrin products to the EU market, in
exchange for the progressive opening, over five years, of its markets to