President Vujanovic’s Closing Speech at the Crans Montana Forum
Dear Mr. Schwimmer
Dear Mr. Carteron,
Dear Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very glad that the Crans Montana Forum decided to organize this prestigious international political and expert gathering in Montenegro. I am particularly glad that the Forum was focused on the topic: “Montenegro in the 21st Century”, which has currently been of topical interest not only for Montenegro, but for the whole region as well.

I am particularly grateful for Mr. Schwimmer’s official closing remarks at the Forum, including his view on the way in which state policy of Montenegro was conducted during the periods of crisis in ex-Yugoslavia, his view on current situation in Montenegro and his evaluation of position of Montenegro vis-à-vis minorities and their rights, which is also shared by Montenegrin part. Minorities are indeed wealth of Montenegro, and our good interethnic and interdenominational relations do represent a great capital of Montenegro, which enabled preservation of peace and ensured our joint future being equally valuable both for majority and minority population.

I would also like to thank Mr. Schwimmer for his analysis of our motivation to hold a referendum and analysis of our further steps as an EU partner. Therefore, just like Mr. Schwimmer said, this referendum is a referendum to be decided by the citizens of Montenegro about their future, not against Serbia or Serbian people, but for their own country and with Serbia as a reliable and good partner with whom we shall have extensive relations, about a status within which we shall decide about our path by ourselves and be EU partners autonomously. In this respect, I am very glad to hear this from Mr. Schwimmer since it is obviously a message from this gathering.

So, as a President of the Republic, I am obliged to communicate my view on Montenegro in the 21st century, explaining also the reasons for such view of mine. Communicating a position on the state status has always been a complex and responsible matter, but I am sure that it is easy and convincingly in case of Montenegro.

Namely, need for regaining full sovereignty of Montenegro has been influenced by regional and internal national requirements. Both requirements are clear, thus making my task easy.

Regional processes are integration-oriented. Ex-Yugoslav countries participate in these processes as independent and internationally recognized states. All of them made significant progress towards wider national and security integrations. They are either NATO or Partnership for Peace members. All of them, but Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

All countries of the region made huge steps in the EU accession process, by becoming either the EU member state (Slovenia) or are in the process of negotiation for the membership (Croatia) or by being granted a candidate status (Macedonia). Albania has been in the negotiation process for several years. Only Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro are far from the Agreement.

Therefore, the regional processes make necessity for integration into wider national and security structures logical, while responsibility for quality and dynamics of such integrations lies with the internationally-recognized states willing to integrate.

While analyzing internal needs of Montenegro for regaining its full sovereignty, a question arises whether related processes could be implemented in a faster and easier way independently or within a union with Serbia. And another and equally important question is whether it is both out of historical and actual reasons to regain our independence or not. The response to both above questions is certainly positive, and I will offer my arguments for it.

At the NATO Summit in Istanbul 2004, it was clearly said that Montenegro and Serbia may not be in the Partnership for Peace because of non-cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and because of charges brought by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia against some NATO countries. None of the two reasons referred to Montenegro. Montenegro has responsibly co-operated with the Hague Tribunal from its establishing, and its Chief Prosecutor assessed many times that the Serbian government was liable for lack of such co-operation. This assessment was accepted by the NATO and UN Security Council. Montenegro also considered insisting on the charges pointless, which encountered disagreement by the Serbian government. Therefore, Montenegro is not in the Partnership for Peace only because the union with Serbia prevents it to be.

Dynamics of negotiations on the EU accession process crucially depends on co-operation with the Hague Tribunal, with highly serious and real warnings that such process could be suspended because of non-extradition of General Mladic. This means that even in this integration process, Montenegro is a hostage of Serbia.

Has Montenegro deserved a role of hostage? I am sure she has not. Has Montenegro deserved uncertainty as regards fast dynamics of her accession to the security and wider national integrations? I am sure she has not. Even if General Mladic is immediately extradited and the integration process is speeded up, should Montenegro forget the years she wasted? I am sure she should not. High bill for previous waiting and missed benefits because of lack of integrations make necessary conducting of the integration process independently and relying on our own capacities and values.

Historical and actual reasons justify regaining of full sovereignty of Montenegro. Historical: because Montenegro and Serbia tested all models of state relations, since they were independent states, and then in all forms of unions: through joint monarchic state, then federal Yugoslav state with six republics, then joint federal state with two republics and now in a completely atypical state union, which is unfamiliar in the constitutional and law theory or practice.

It is clear that monarchic and federal state with several member countries did not provide good framework for state co-existence. It is impossible to ensure co-existence of so much different member states. In a constitutional sense, joint state of different people and their countries may not be sustainable if it is in their interest to be independent. Anyway, it is not just the experience of ex Yugoslavia, but also of other complex states which were- due to such differences and bad experience related to the unity- transformed into independent states.

Joint state of Serbia and Montenegro - Federal Republic of Yugoslavia proved in all aspects, including security aspect, that it may be abused by a larger one- Serbia against smaller one- Montenegro. Present atypical state union, with common foreign policy and security, proved that no functioning may be possible in interdependence between two disproportional states, because it is a difference in construction that may not be overcome. It only creates a risk for the relations between the two close states to get worse for good.

For that reason, the best, most stabile and mutually most useful model of relations between Montenegro and Serbia is that of two independent states- states which are independent but have close and extensive communication, with open boundaries, free movement of people and goods and with citizens enjoying the same rights in both states.

In the period of her formal independence from 1878 to 1918, Montenegro experienced economic, cultural, educational and overall renaissance, and her reputation as a state surpassed the size and number of the country. Serbia created its future alone, and relations between the two independent countries have for years been close and frankly. Precisely because of the fact that they were independent!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Montenegro has a chance to regain her independence and, after that, with Serbia being independent as well, to affirm relations of lasting stability, friendship and equality. EU sent a clear message that it would recognize independent Montenegro if her citizens decided so in a democratic way.

Upon failure of government and opposition to reach an agreement on census required for the referendum outcome to be valid, the EU suggested new and unusual model that has never been applied, providing unequal footing for voters, with risk of disregarding relation between majority and minority.

I have been, and I still am, pointing to these serious weaknesses and violation of fundamental right of equality of citizens and democratic relation between majority and minority. The same concern was also expressed by other representatives of government and parliamentary parties, law theoreticians and empiricists and all others who are concerned about the unfairness of this referendum model.

Despite the fact that the EU only suggested the model, it also accepted the weak spots of the model and is committed to their removal, along with being its author and considering it a good compromise. Therefore I am convinced that this model will be further analyzed in all its aspects by the EU.

Nevertheless, should this be a definite position of the EU, I am sure that both government and opposition will face the reality with maximum seriousness at the Parliament of Montenegro, which is to make final decision, enabling citizens to vote on independence of our country; on independence which was denied to Montenegro almost nine decades ago, by her annexation to Serbia with brutal disrespect of the Constitution of one sovereign state.

Such chance was not truly offered fourteen years ago, when, having expectation for equality with Serbia and illusion of re-establishment of a wide Yugoslav spirit, referendum on unity rather then independent Montenegro was organized.

The chance should be given to apparent majority of citizens who are supportive of independent Montenegro, which was demonstrated in last two cycles of parliamentary elections as well as in many local elections at which ruling and pro-independent parties won. The chance should be given to that majority of citizens who are persuaded that Montenegro may not have equal future with Serbia in such interdependence, but may only be certain that good and close relations with Serbia will worsen.

Right to vote in the referendum on independence should also be enabled because of the chance for Montenegro to regain her full international subjectivity after 128 years since her international recognition at the Berlin Congress. At that period of time, Montenegro was the 27th state of the international community. She was independent, renowned and proud. Represented in the world under her name. A chance should be given to those who are for such Montenegro or for those who are against such Montenegro to express their opinion in a democratic manner.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is a historical chance for Montenegro in which a wish for own country independence will win, along with and despite of possible applying of this unknown rule that can only be an extra motivation just because of its unfairness, whereupon, I am sure, Montenegro will come back to the international community in her full sovereign capacity.

Sveti Stefan, 21 February 2006