(Fwd) [globalobserver] Montenegro and Serbia form new federation

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Date sent:      	Fri, 15 Mar 2002 15:41:02 -0000
Subject:        	[globalobserver] Montenegro and Serbia form 
new federation
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Copyright © 2001 The International Herald Tribune | www.iht.com 

Montenegro and Serbia form new federation  
Daniel Williams The Washington Post 
Friday, March 15, 2002  


ROME Averting a potentially nasty divorce, Serbia and Montenegro
agreed Thursday to remain part of a single federation and in the
process, the two sides dropped the name Yugoslavia. In a stroke, they
ended a tumultuous history that dated from the end of World War I.

The new union will be called Serbia and Montenegro. Its creation is
possibly the last act in the decadelong disintegration of what was
once Yugoslavia into five separate states plus Kosovo. Kosovo,
technically part of defunct Yugoslavia, is currently a ward of the
United Nations. For all the fighting by Serbia to preserve Yugoslavia,
the name went out with a whimper rather than a bang.

The accord was signed Thursday in Belgrade. It settles a festering
dispute between Serbia, with 10 million people, the most populous
republic of the former Yugoslavia, and Montenegro, a mountainous,
Adriatic Sea coast region with only 650,000 inhabitants.

Some Montenegrins had agitated for independence and the president 
Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, had promised a referendum.

Serbia had opposed the loss of yet another constituent part of 

The new agreement puts aside the referendum proposal. After three
years, each side can reconsider the agreement.

Under the accord, Serbia and Montenegro will have separate 
and customs services. A common presidency, defense establishment,
foreign ministry, human rights ministry and supreme court will join
the two republics. New elections are scheduled for autumn to choose a
Parliament, which will in turn elect a president of the federation.

The current Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, seized on the
opportunity to highlight a definitive break from the era of his
predecessor, Slobodan Milosevic.

Milosevic is on trial for war crimes at a UN tribunal. He led Serbia
to four defeats in battles with the breakaway regions of Slovenia,
Croatia, Bosnia, and finally, Kosovo, which won the backing of North
Atlantic Treaty Organization air forces against Milosevic's army.

"At a time when Europe is integrating and when the pestilence of
disintegration is affecting the Balkans, Serbia and Montenegro have
embarked on the road of integration," Kostunica said Thursday.

His reference to Europe reflected the lure of joining the European
Union. Of all the shards left from Yugoslavia's breakup, only Slovenia
has been invited to join the economic club. The rest all aspire to

In Brussels, the EU spokesman, Gunnar Wiegand, hailed the 
Thursday as "good news for the western Balkans on the road to the
European Union."

The EU was not interested in the appearance of yet another Balkans
mini-state on the scene and pressured Djukanovic to relent on his
referendum pledge.

The EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, brokered the deal. Last
August, Solana forged a complex arrangement to avert civil war in
Macedonia by winning new rights for ethnic Albanians in the divided
country and persuading guerrillas to demobilize. Despite months of
tension and occasional outbreaks of violence, the agreement has held.

Djukanovic, at least, faces immediate political problems at home. A
separatist party keeps his governing coalition in place. "Anything but
a referendum is a betrayal of those who made him president," said
Vesna Perovic, speaker of Montenegro's Parliament.

Kostunica's opponents regarded the compromise Thursday as a final
insult. "This is an illustration of the tragicomic regime which has
broken its election promise on the preservation of Yugoslavia," said
Branko Ruzik, a Milosevic supporter.

Yugoslavia was once a kingdom, created in the aftermath of World War
I. During World War II, fierce fighting raged across the country, when
partisans under Josip Broz Tito resisted Nazi forces.

Tito created the Yugoslav Federation in the war's aftermath.

His was the first Communist country to reject the leadership of 
Stalin and the Soviet Union. Tito died in 1980, and 12 years later,
the federation began to unravel.

The agreement Thursday and the demise of the name Yugoslavia raise
questions about the future of Kosovo. Within Yugoslavia, it was a part
of Serbia. Without "Yugoslavia," does the old arrangement legally
hold? Serb commentators said that Serbia and Montenegro are heirs to
Yugoslavia, including a UN resolution that declares Kosovo part of the

In Pristina, the Kosovo capital, there was already talk of instant

"This agreement will accelerate the process," said Ruxhdi Sefa, a
Kosovo politician, "Because from today, Yugoslavia no longer exists." 

 Copyright © 2001 The International Herald Tribune 

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