Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Dr. David Dasic
Head - Trade Mission of the Republic of Montenegro


Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Dr. David Dj. Dasic,

Head of Trade Mission of the Republic

of Montenegro to the USA

"Milosevic's Crackdown in Serbia and Threat to Montenegro"

July 27, 2000

Good morning. First of all I would like to extend my gratitude for this exceptional opportunity to speak in the
Congress, in the Helsinki Committee, as a representative of the Government of Montenegro, on the prospects for
further democratic developments of Montenegro, especially after the recent changes of the Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Allow me to commence my opening statement with some necessary general political considerations.

As it is well known, the Yugoslav federation is in a deep internal crisis today.

Relations between Montenegro and Serbia have been on the lowest level ever in the history of the two nations.

That crisis was further exacerbated by recent changes of the Federal constitution, adopted, in a hurry, by Federal
parliament, without participation of lawful and legal representatives of Montenegro, prepared in clandestine way,
without cooperation and consent of Montenegro.

The rift between the Yugoslav federation and Montenegro has become real, with many uncertainties for their

The core of the crisis is in a different vision of the future developments in Montenegro, in the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia and in Serbia.

Three years ago the Montenegrin government initiated, on the domestic scene, profound, sweeping and
far-reaching reforms, broadening the democratic base and making grass-roots democracy ample, visible and
feasible elsewhere in Montenegro, making Montenegro different in comparison with Serbia and the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia.

Montenegro has become a model for multi-ethnic democracy, tolerance and mutual understanding in the region.

One year ago, the Montenegrin government proposed its Platform for new future relations with Serbia in a
common democratic state, based on equality between the two republics and democratic values.

So far the state authorities of Srbia has not responded to Montenegro's political offer. Hopefully, the negotiations
with the Serbian democratic opposition in respect to the Platform have already started, with promising outcomes.

On the external scene, Montenegrin state policy has become pro - European oriented, aiming to establish
ever-closer links with all countries of the world.

Instead of sanctions and isolation, Montenegro has become a welcome partner in the international community,
including its beneficiary status in the Pact of Stability for South East Europe. The government of Montenegro
signed a very important agreement with OPIC for protection of private US investment from political risk.

Down the road of democratic transition, Montenegro still faces many economic difficulties, humanitarian problems,
internal political divisions and tensions, including continuous and persistent attempts of the federal authorities to
destabilize the Montenegrin government.

The recent changes to the Yugoslavia's constitution are the freshest example of such their behavior.

These changes radically changed the fundaments of the common state of Montenegro and Serbia, created in April

The major motives of the recent constitutional changes are to perpetuate the current posture of political power in
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to create legal possibility for extension of the power of current Yugoslav
president, Mr. Milosevic, for the next eight years.

The consequences of the recent constitutional changes are destructive for Montenegro.

Montenegro is not more an equal constituent of the federal state.

Practically, president of FRY will never be from Montenegro, because Montenegro has only 650,000 inhabitants
and Serbia has 10 million inhabitants.

Montenegro lost its capacity to express itself as a state in the Federal Parliament.

The Montenegro's Parliament denounced these constitutional changes as illegal and illegitimate, adopting the
Resolution on the protection of rights and interests of the Republic of Montenegro and its citizens.

In this Resolution the members of the Yugoslav Army are invited not to allow to be abused against the citizens,
institutions and state authorities of the Republic of Montenegro.

According to mentioned Resolution Montenegro will not comply, also, to the set of electoral laws, adopted by
Federal Parliament three days ago.

Under new created unfavorable constitutionally conditions, it would be inappropriate to participate in the
oncoming federal elections, because it would mean the recognition of the recently adopted constitutional changes,
as unacceptable. Of cause, within Serbian democratic opposition there are some different approaches concerning
the participation in the federal elections.

The major challenges for the Montenegrin state policy are how to keep a stable and enduring peace, avoid
deliberate provocations, avoid nervous reactions and steps that could induce the introduction of direct military
rule, escape radicalization of internal antagonisms, prevent a break out of possible violence or war, pursue
democratic reforms and values more steadfastly and resolutely, and maintain favorable political balance.

The constant interest and need of Montenegro is a democratic and prosperous Serbia, a democratic and
prosperous Kosovo within Serbia, a democratic and prosperous Yugoslavia, as well as a democratic and
prosperous entire region.

It is the main reason why the Montenegrin government has been waiting, with the persistence and the patience, an
answer from Serbia to its Platform.

Yugoslavia as a common state of Serbia and Montenegro, in any possible constitutional form - whether as a
federation, confederation, union, commonwealth, association or community - could exist only as a liberal
democratic state, as an open civic society, as a tolerant society and as an integral part of Europe. It is, also, the
only precondition for the practical survival of the Yugoslav idea.

A lack of a response from the state authorities of Serbia to the Montenegrin proposal for new relations could
force Montenegro to pursue its own course, opening of a constitutional procedure for Montenegro's

Montenegro was an independent state for centuries. The republic of Montenegro could become, again, an
independent state. It is up to the citizens of Montenegro to decide whether to create an independent state or
remain in Yugoslavia.

There are certain domestic and international predictions that the formal step towards the independence of
Montenegro could eventually provoke a violent reaction. It seems that the international community due to a fear of
the fifth Balkan war - fatigued and exhausted with the four senseless wars in the Balkans over the last decade - is
not ready to support the independence of Montenegro now.

Instead of independence, the international community prefers to support as much as possible the development of
democracy in Montenegro, considering it as a very important integral part of the needed democratization of the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

The future status of Montenegro as well as of the Yugoslav federation will depend mostly on forthcoming political
events that cannot be predicted today. However, today is possible to predict only that the people of Montenegro
would accept the political solution which will bring to them a peace, democracy, prosperity, international
affirmation and t integration in European and transatlantic structures.

Keeping the peace, preventing any drop of blood to be shed, has become the task of the highest priority of the
Montenegrin state policy. A violent conflict, if it occurs, regardless of its final result, would be a complete tragedy
for all of Montenegro and its citizens. In that case no one political option would be more viable.

The Montenegrin government, by persistently developing democracy, has shown its political wisdom, skills,
patience and prudence in preserving peace, security and stability in Montenegro so far.

It has been confirmed, in the every day's reality, that the most efficient weapon in defending peace in Montenegro
is further energetic development of democracy.

Crucial preconditions for the successful development of democracy and for a viable democratic peace are the
sustained economic growth and economic independence of Montenegro.

An urgent international economic support to Montenegro is extremely needed now, replacing aid with investment
and creating a climate for doing business.

Montenegro, despite of many difficulties it has been facing, with its current democratic capacities, has a great
chance to successfully reconstruct its society and economy and to find the best solution for its prosperous future.

I am convinced that Montenegro - with the strong democratic task force surrounding President Djukanovic - will
know to use this chance in the proper way, overcoming the grim legacy of the past, finding the right answers to
current contradictions, managing political differences, meeting the major challenges of the future, safeguarding its
state and national interests and bringing peace and happiness to its citizens.

All these comprehensive goals cannot be achieved without concrete and visible support of the international
community, of our western and other friends, especially of the USA, as a global power and the most important
partner in developing democracies around the world.

Thank you for your attention. With great pleasure I would like to answer your questions.