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June 6, 1998
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 348
Interview: Filip Vujanovic, Premier of Montenegro

We Are Ready for Everything

by Nenad Lj. Stefanovic

“After the election of our representatives to the Chamber of Republics, Montenegro will have representatives who will finally represent our interests there,” stated for VREME the Premier of Montenegro, Filip Vujanovic.  “Up to now we had in this Chamber representatives who are members of Mr. Bulatovic’s party who do not hold the interest of Montenegro as their top priority.  There they represented the interests of their party.  After changing representatives after the election, in the future we will be in a position to stop all legal projects and resolutions in the Chamber of Republics which are harmful to Montenegro.  In my opinion, this will prevent Milosevic from governing the way he has done so far — with absolute power.”

VREME: Does this mean that there will no longer be room for SNP representatives in the Chamber of Republics?

VUJANOVIC: If Montenegro decides that Mr. Bulatovic’s MP’s do not wish to represent the interests of our Republic, but the interests of Slobodan Milosevic, then it is logical that SNP MP’s will not be represented in the Chamber of Republics.  In the parliament of the republic, Bulatovic already has minority representation, so that he cannot significantly influence political life in Montenegro.  Also, his Federal Government is not acknowledged by Montenegro because we believe that it was chosen illegally.  Bulatovic promised that in the event of a defeat in the parliamentary elections he will submit his resignation.  Of course, I am certain that he will not do that.  He has not kept any public promises up to now.  However, it is certain that Momir Bulatovic does not have any significant political influence in Montenegro.

What direct consequences can be produced by the fact that in the future all 20 representatives in the Chamber of Republics might be from Coalition “For a Better Life”?

Without a majority in the Chamber of Republics, no single decision can be adopted in Federal Parliament.  Of course, we cannot change anything with these twenty representatives through an active decision.  But we can produce the dissolution of Federal Parliament with our passive attitude and refusal to cooperate.  For instance, in the event that a budget is not adopted, according to the constitution, parliament must be dissolved.  When in January of next year a vote is taken on the federal budget, the survival of the federal assembly will directly depend on the majority in parliament.  That is why I believe that FRY President Slobodan Milosevic will have to totally respect the interest of Montenegro in the future.

What is more realistic at this moment — for Belgrade to attempt to isolate Montenegro after these elections and to prevent the influence of democratic changes, or maybe to turn toward searching for more drastic solutions?

In my opinion, it is more realistic to expect that the influence of democratic processes and reforms in Belgrade will be felt in Serbia.  The economic and social situation in Serbia is exceptionally difficult, Serbia is at the edge of economic and social collapse and its further isolation would carry with it the risk of great social unrest.  That is why I believe that under the pressure of economic interests, of democratic political forces in Serbia, and especially under the pressure of dissatisfied citizens in Serbia, democratic changes will have to happen with the resultant economic and political reintegration of Serbia, and with that also the return of Yugoslavia into the international community.  Above all into international trade and financial organizations.  Until then, we in Montenegro will strive to facilitate further economic reforms in Montenegro through our diplomatic and industrial contacts, above all through the influx of foreign capital.  The model of privatization so far has shown that there is interest on the part of foreign capital, while high officials of many European countries and of the USA have called on businessmen in their countries to invest in Montenegro.  As far as “more drastic solutions” are concerned, such a possibility has definitely now gone to pieces.

Do you have any suggestions from the regime in Belgrade that it might eventually accept the election results?

Mr. Bulatovic’s party has acknowledged election defeat, which they had to finally do anyway.  The elections were held in a completely democratic atmosphere, which were acceptable to all types of control, of which many were unnecessary.  I believe that the preliminary OEBS findings, which are completely positive, will also force Belgrade to accept the election results.  But it is completely insignificant for us whether they will or will not do that.  The government of Montenegro is elected by the citizens of Montenegro, and not by the regime in Belgrade, which is obviously not only working against the interests of Montenegro, but also of Serbia itself.

It seems that from now on we will have a state with three different systems — one in Serbia, one in Kosovo, and the third in Montenegro.  How can such a state function at all.  For instance, will resolutions by the Federal Government carry any weight for you?

First of all, we must await with utmost patience the reactions of the Federal Executive Council (SIV) in its obligations toward Montenegro.  They can decide to take the route of economic exhaustion of Montenegro by not making transfer payments from the federal budget to our republic, above all from the fund for pension security and the fund for health security.  And that is a significant financial expenditure.  Then they could reduce or all together stop issuing permits for imports of goods subject to quotas or of goods which are regulated by a system of permits.  They can also continue to close off our borders toward Albania and Croatia.  It is especially damaging to Montenegro to continue restricting the Croatian border, because of the upcoming tourist season and the great interest of tourists to come to the Montenegrin coast.  And finally, SIV could also continue the present regimen of visas which could signify great economic damage to Montenegro, because it would continue to threaten its tourist industry.  In the event that SIV decides to exhaust us economically, and Bulatovic continues to be the president of Federal Government, I fear that economic exhaustion will occur, and then we will have to find appropriate defense mechanisms.  Those mechanisms have to be financially efficient, but they must not threaten the existence of the federal state, because our common interest is to maintain the common state.  Solutions to the present situation could also be sought in the call for renewed federal parliamentary elections.  Personally, I am convinced that those elections could also mean Slobodan Milosevic’s political end,” stated Premier Vujanovic.

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