Montenegro – A state is born

By Håkan Wiberg and Jan Oberg

Originally published here

The 192nd member has recently been admitted to the United Nations. Montenegro with its 600,000 inhabitants recently had a referendum, where 86.6 per cent of those enfranchised voted. Out of these, 55.5 per cent voted for independence, and 44.5 against. Another way of presenting the same data is that 48.1 per cent voted for, 38.5 against and 13.4 not at all.



There are reasons to dig deeper into what happened. What is the internal and external background to this event? Does it increase or decrease the stability of the region? Could this decision cause trouble at some point in the future? Could it have an impact on the question of independence for Kosovo? Indeed, is the Montenegrin drive for independence mainly a result of external – at the time, anti-Milosevic – pressures by the West and, thus, an unintended result of short-sighted policies years ago? And what about the fact that there live about as many Montenegrins in Serbia as in Montenegro, but the former could not vote?

 
A few historical notes



Two Balkan states managed to preserve their independence throughout the Ottoman period. Republica Ragusa (Dubrovnik) did so by being rich and having a vast navy, very thick walls and a very complex diplomacy, cautiously balancing among all the surrounding powers, that earned it the nickname “Cittá delle sette bandiere” – the city of seven flags. Montenegro also had an impressive international diplomacy, but otherwise its security basis was just the opposite of Ragusa: it was very poor, had mountains instead of walls and could mobilise most of the male population within days. A small army entering it would quickly face defeat, a big one would slowly starve to death. [Read more…]

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Some ethical aspects on NATO’s intervention in Kosovo – Part B

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 74 – July 29, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

• Stereotyping and discrimination
Ask yourself whether NATO’s bombing and subsequent occupation could have been done against any other nation in today’s Europe. Whether any other country than Yugoslavia and any other people but Serbs is so despised? The plight of the Albanian refugees is in focus, but how well and how extensive did media cover that of the Serbs, Goranis, Montenegrin, Turks and Gypsies in Kosovo? The refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania entered our living rooms – but did the human suffering of people living in and fleeing to bombed-out Yugoslavia?

Recent Albanian extremist violence against Serbs is reported with ‘understanding,’ presented as (justifiable) revenge for what Serb police, military and paramilitary units did. But the media which told the story this way, never ‘explained’ that Serb ethnic cleansing after NATO started bombing could be ‘understood’ as (justifiable) anger at what THEY saw as the destruction of their entire country commissioned or demanded – as it was – by moderate as well as extremist Kosovo-Albanians.

Everybody knows that humanitarian aid should be based on needs only. But people living in Yugoslavia shall not receive any assistance ‘as long as Milosevic is at the helmet.’ One wonders whether the international human rights community is on collective holiday? Since the early 1990s, Serb human and minority rights were never cared for to the extent e.g. Croatian, Bosniak and Albanian rights were.

In social science, stereotyping can be defined as ‘a one-sided, exaggerated and normally prejudicial view of a group, tribe or class of people, and is usually associated with racism and sexism.’ Stereotypes are often resistant to change or correction from countervailing evidence, because they create a sense of social solidarity. Is it so unlikely that the United States and NATO did just a bit of stereotyping to maintain alliance credibility and solidarity?

• Authoritarian politics undermining international democracy.
NATO now has a near-monopoly on conflict-management. The UN, the EU, single governments in the region, OSCE and NGOs went out of the region when NATO went in. No NATO government declared war, no parliaments voted about participation in the campaign. (In contrast, the ‘dictatorship’s parliament in Belgrade debated both the Rambouillet and the G8 plan). None of the democracies in NATO dared challenge the near-total US military and political dominance in this operation or that of the “Quint” – the five biggest NATO leaders. [Read more…]