Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Statement of Hon. Christopher H. Smith
Chairman - Helsinki Commission


Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Promoting and Protecting Democracy in Montenegro

Tuesday, February 1, 2000

Statement of Christopher H. Smith, Chairman

In the past decade, those of us who follow world affairs have had an in-depth lesson in the history, geography and
demography of southeastern Europe. Places like Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo were little known
and little understood. Unfortunately, too many policy-makers became aware of them only as the news reports of
ethnic cleansing began to pour in.

The Helsinki Commission, which I have now had the honor of chairing for the past five years, has sought for over
two decades to inform Members of Congress, the U.S. Government and the American public, of developing
issues in countries of Europe, the Caucusas and Central Asia. Hopefully, with timely and well-informed attention,
we can more effectively and quickly respond to a potential crisis, and perhaps save lives.

Today, our purpose is to examine the situation in Montenegro, the smallest of the former Yugoslav republics and
the only to have maintained ties in a federation with Serbia. Since 1997, Montenegro has moved toward
democratic reform, and its leaders have distanced themselves from earlier involvement in the ethnic intolerance
and violence which devastated neighboring Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. In contrast, the Belgrade regime of
Slobodan Milosevic has become more entrenched in power and more determined to bring ruin to Serbia, if
necessary to maintain this power. The divergence of paths has made the existing federation almost untenable,
especially in the aftermath of last year's conflict in Kosovo. We now hear reports of a confrontation with
Milosevic and possible conflict in Montenegro as a result.

In addition to the ongoing operations to keep the peace and provide justice and democratic governance in Bosnia
and Kosovo, the international community will face the challenge of promoting and protecting democracy in
Montenegro. With good judgement and resolve, conflict can be avoided, and those seeking conflict deterred. As
democracy is strengthened in Montenegro, the international community can also give those in Serbia struggling to
bring democracy to their republic a chance to succeed. The people of Serbia deserve support.
Democracy-building is vital for Serbs, Montenegrins and others living in the entire southeastern region of Europe.

Before we can respond, however, we must know more about what is happening. Today, we have before us two
analysts from Montenegro. The first, Srdjan Darmanovic from the Center for Democracy and Human Rights, will
provide a political overview of the development of democracy in Montenegro and the relationship between
Montenegro and Serbia at this time. A little over one year ago, Mr. Darmanovic testified before the Commission
on the similar subject of the Milosevic regime versus Serbian democracy and Balkan stability. We had hoped, at
that time, to point out the flaw of relying on Milosevic - the instigator of conflict - to maintain peace, and I believe
the subsequent carnage in Kosovo proved the folly of this policy. Thank you for returning, Mr. Darmanovic, and
providing us with new information on what is happening now.

Next we have Veselin Vukotic, from the Center for Entrepreneurship. Dr. Vukotic will focus on the critical issue
of Montenegro's struggle to survive economically, following the collapse of its Yugoslav economic base, the reality
of the imposition of sanctions as a means to stop Milosevic's aggression, and Milosevic's own attempts to steal the
wealth and resources of Serbia and Montenegro. Welcome, Dr. Vukotic.

Finally, we have with us today Janusz Bugajski from the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in
Washington, DC. Mr. Bugajski is well known to, and valued by, this Commission, having testified in 1993 on the
potential for the spillover of the Bosnian conflict into neighboring regions, and in 1998 on the pending conflict in
Kosovo. Mr. Bugajski will put the issues relating to Montenegro into the larger perspective and suggest possible
policy options which the international community can pursue. It is a pleasure to see you here again, Mr. Bugajski.