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November 20, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 216
Shades of Dayton

The Montenegrins in America

by Velizar Brajovic

Just as the state delegation of Montenegro finished its official visit to the United States of America, the Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic announced: he had already packed his bags for a visit to London where he will be the official guest of the British government; on the invitation from Vienna, only the date is missing, and that a journey to Moscow will follow due to an invitation from the Russian Prime Minister. That is, as was officially stated, only a part of Montenegro's announced intense diplomatic activity which the Prime Minister of Montenegro places in context of the reintegration of the southern federal units into the international community following the expected suspension of the sanctions after Dayton. What will remain, however, is that rarely had a state delegation following a visit to a foreign country justified itself so much in front of the public and certain "unidentified" circles as did and does the Montenegrin one after their return from America.

Stories of the "clash" are a few months old and are especially alive after the personnel shifts in the Montenegrin police force. At the time, according to the statements of confidential sources, the distrust between Bulatovic and Djukanovic culminated in such a way that on the occasion of personnel shifts in the police force - as our sources claim - a parity principle was applied. Some were nominated by Bulatovic, others by Djukanovic, and over some a concord could not be reached, so that certain positions at the top of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) have remained empty. According to the same source, President Bulatovic has for a long time been bearing the load of pressure from Dedinje to bring to order or even eliminate Djukanovic. Prior to their departure, and especially during their stay in America, the stories became even more intense concerning the possibility of overthrowing Djukanovic's government. The fact that on the voyage across the ocean Djukanovic was accompanied by the Parliament Speaker, Svetozar Marovic, for the "well informed" indicates that Djukanovic's position has improved.

TROUBLES WITH KERTES: The undermining of Djukanovic's position from Belgrade allegedly started after his statement given last year that Montenegro finances itself, that is after the start and accelerating pace of the private sector process and Djukanovic's insistence that Montenegro be granted, by federal laws, the right to its own model of transformation and private enterprise. "Djukanovic's economy" is burdened with a major headache forced upon it by the head of the Federal Customs Administration, Mihalj Kertes, so that in return, news is broadcasted from Podgorica of a major embezzlement of government funds which, allegedly, Kertes distributed to other sources instead of into the budget. Djukanovic therefore decides not to pay funds into the budget acquired from duties and taxes collected on the territory of Montenegro, until the debt is settled. Belgrade's answer was exceptionally speedy, and a Regulation was adopted by which customs duty could be collected from goods only on border crossings. The customs houses in Podgorica and elsewhere are practically excluded from further business, the Montenegrin businessmen are faced with a number of problems, and the money flow into the Montenegro pension fund is almost non-existent considering the fact that goods are in most cases cleared through customs on crossings of the Serbian-Macedonian borders.

For this story, even Djukanovic's "clash" with Mirjana Markovic is not irrelevant, nor are his frequent statements that Montenegro shall either be an equal in the Federation or independent. At the time, Djukanovic announces Montenegro's intense diplomatic activities, states that he is dissatisfied by the fact that during the peace negotiations, neither the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ) nor Montenegro are mentioned, leaving only Serbia's name, he adds that the fact must be altered that in accordance to that, the diplomats of powerful world forces act and concludes that the international community has chosen Slobodan Milosevic for peace negotiations, but that with the entrance of other topics on the agenda, Montenegro will do its share of the business.

In any case, Djukanovic says that he is preparing ground for actions following the lifting of the sanctions and intends to accomplish a series of talks on economic cooperation in almost all European capitals. For now, he sees opening up towards America as the most important step, where, as he says, means should be put aside for establishing a Montenegrin lobby as well as for opening a Montenegrin Information Center, all for the sake of ensuring better positions for Montenegro. Whether the former prime minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Milan Panic, who has generously put himself at the service of the Montenegrin delegation, shall be a part of that lobby, it is difficult to say, but it is indicative that, according to Djukanovic's statement, the Yugoslav Embassy in America had performed its share as entrusted upon it regarding the preparation of the tour, yet the largest part of the same organization was, however, performed by various law offices in America which have been working for Montenegro for months now. It is uncertain whether that marks a tendency towards opening Montenegrin branches throughout the world, while bypassing Yugo-embassies, but it is known that Djukanovic is expecting a number of consulates to open in Montenegro.

POSSIBLE BUT NOT ESSENTIAL: Djukanovic estimates that the Montenegrin government had authority to offer Bar harbor services to the Pentagon, since that stand results from a general determination for establishing peace on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, adding that the issue of a commercial effect for the actual harbor which has not had any business for the last three and a half years, is also in question. Djukanovic refuses insinuations that it means an installation of the NATO pact forces in Montenegro, as well as speculations that they wish to retain peace forces in Montenegro due to danger of a possible clash with Belgrade.

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