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Interview of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro Miodrag Vlahović to the Spanish Daily El Pais: The last brick of Yugoslavia

Published date: 20.02.2006 15:34 | Author: Intervjui

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Interview of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro Miodrag Vlahović to the Spanish Daily El Pais: The last brick of Yugoslavia
Guillermo Altares, 14.02.2006.

The most common sentence of Minister Vlahović, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, is clear: It will be a peaceful and a persuasive process. He talks about the referendum, which will be held by the end of April in which Montenegrins will vote for the separation from Serbia, which will mark the end of the country once called Yugoslavia. Vlahović visited Madrid on Tuesday and met with high officials of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to persuade that the referendum would not represent a new era of instability in the Balkans.
The existing Union is formed in the way so that we have the right to leave it. We will hold a legitimate referendum in accordance with our Constitution, and in peace. We count on numerous observers during the referendum. The result will provide a persuasive and stable solution which will turn Serbia and Montenegro into two independent countries. This is a common process, atypical for the Balkans, and it will not cause any crisis. Actually, the referendum represents the last chapter of the process that was supposed to finish four years ago, 41 years old Miodrag Vlahović states in the interview in Madrid.
During the 90s, Yugoslavia broke away in pieces through the enormously cruel wars (in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo; conflict in Kosovo caused an intervention of the international community). The name of the country, which was fundamentally in Europe during the Cold War, survived, but thanks to the union of only two republics, Serbia and Montenegro, which do not go along well.
During the Barcelona Summit 2002, responsible for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, succeeded to convince the two countries to stay together under the name of State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Up to now, the Parliament will meet in Podgorica next week to decide on the date of the referendum- 30th April is the most probable date. The result will surely bring a new country in the Balkans, a small country of 650 000 citizens, with one of the most impressive littoral in the Mediterranean. Of course there is a risk of instability, Vlahovic insists. All the countries in the Region and the countries of the EU are deeply involved in the process.
The Government of Montenegro was deaf to the numerous petitions of Serbia and the EU to postpone the referendum, at least until the international community decides upon the final status of Kosovo, the Serbian province with majority of Albanian population, governed by the UN and also streaming for the independence. We cannot separate from Serbia, as we are not part of that country. We were two states which formed Yugoslavia, which later turned into the Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Our legitimate right and the true interest is to become a sovereign country which controls its own development and integration in NATO and EU; but as a state, not as a region.
According to many aspects, we talk about two different countries. The currency is different (dinar in Serbia, and euro in Montenegro) and there is a border on which regular checks are done. We actually share the control of air space and passports, even though we make our own documents. We are already two states, but what we need is a new political, peaceful, persuasive and democratic definition, Minister explained.
Serbs and Montenegrins are deeply related, so it would be impossible that this process ends with a new wave of violence in the Balkans. One quarter of a million of Montenegrins live in Serbia, and a third of Montenegrin population are Serbs. Most of the observers think that on the referendum yes would win, supported by the Government, even though there are many of those who are in favor of the existing Union. The last surveys show that 40 % of the population is in favor of independence, and 33% is for the union with Serbia.