WASHINGTON — The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe today announced a forthcoming hearing:
Promoting and Protecting Democracy in Montenegro
10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
Tuesday, February 1
Rayburn House Office Building
Scheduled to testify are:
Srdjan Darmanovic, Director, Center for Democracy and Human Rights (Montenegro)
Veselin Vukotic, Managing Director, Center for Entrepreneurship (Montenegro)
Janusz Bugajski, Director, Eastern Europe Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, D.C.)
Montenegro is the smallest of the six former Yugoslav republics and the only to remain tied to Serbia, in a new Yugoslav federation established in 1992. In 1997, a split in the ruling, formerly Communist Party led to the ascendancy of current President Milo Djukanovic and his reformist followers, including those from Montenegro’s large Albanian and other minority populations, over that of the former Montenegrin President and current Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic and his following, which has aligned itself with the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Relations between Serbia and Montenegro have been tenuous since that time. In light of the worsening situation in Serbia since the Kosovo conflict in early 1999, the prospects for confrontation which could actually lead to conflict have increased.
Montenegro’s political leaders view the federation controlled by Milosevic as limiting the prospects for their republic’s democratic development and economic recovery through European integration, and are considering whether to move toward independence. Their opposition to Belgrade’s control has incurred the wrath of the Milosevic regime and its Serbian nationalist supporters
The issue is divisive for Montenegro internally, with reports of a build-up in paramilitary activity, and of confrontations between Montenegrin authorities and the Yugoslav military based in Montenegro. On January 14, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe said that it would be a “serious mistake” for Belgrade to interfere in Montenegro’s internal affairs.