WED, 05 MAR 1997 21:47:01 GMT
All together now - charge!
Already dazed by the turmoils in Serbia, Milosevic received the hardest blow from the Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic who, in the last issue of the independent weekly "Vreme" (The Times) called him an obsolescent and used up politician. If the DPS leaders remain steadfast and stick to the idea of distancing themselves from Milosevic, then hard days are ahead of the Serbian President. The Montenegrin Prime Minister is well known for his feeling of the right moment to abandon the sinking ship.
AIM Podgorica, February 26, 1997
If Milosevic thought that by recognizing the OSCE Commission's Report, which he was forced to, and the interruption of protests of the "Zajedno" Coalition he has rid himself of a three-month nightmare and got the much needed time to fundamentally consolidate his shaken rule, he must have been very surprised when they informed him of a new political problem - interview of Milo Djukanovic given to the independent weekly "Vreme". "Today Mr.Milosevic is a man of obsolete political ideas, lacking ability to strategically view the challenges facing our state.", said the Montenegrin Prime Minister giving a political portrait of Slobodan Milosevic, stating that the aforementioned "left the impression of being unable to give long-term and serious projections of the future".
In addition, the Serbian President has no visionary abilities but is, according to Djukanovic, "persistently trying to impose himself as a tactician who, with a relative success, manages to find his way in the chaos he himself has previously created". That is why the Montenegrin Prime Minister does not predict a bright future for his until-yesterday tutor and fellow-politician. "I am convinced that it would a grave mistake for Slobodan Milosevic to continue to occupy any position in the political life of Yugoslavia", concluded coldly the Montenegrin leader.
For the first time in seven years of alliance one of the key personalities of Montenegrin authorities dared use the harshest qualifying terms to describe the Serbian President. Djukanovic left no space for misinterpretations - he publicly declared political war on Milosevic.
The Belgrade authorities immediately got the message and spared no means to fiercely strike back, particularly when commenting on the character and activity of the Montenegrin Prime Minister. The comment of the Serbian TV News, a day after Djukanovic's interview, brought back the memories of the times of the "happening of the people" when people were politically eliminated every day: the Montenegrin Prime Minister was publicly declared "an agent of the ambitious, impatient and constantly on duty pretender to the rule over Serbia, an American of Serbian descent, Milan Panic". In addition, Djukanovic was accused of "being in the service of interests of those who wish nothing good to Serbia and Yugoslavia". Two days later the orchestrated campaign started. A day later the Podgorica correspondent of the Novi Sad "Dnevnik" (The Daily) was "authorized to disclose" new, unknown to the Serbian public, details of the Montenegrin black-marketing of cigarettes. Prime Minister Djukanovic, as well as his family, were accused of shady dealings and dangerous connections with the Italian Mafia. The Belgrade "Vecernje novosti" (Evening News) hurried to present to its readership similarly intoned comment.
A part of the famous commentary of the Serbian television attracts attention and reminds of the long forgotten times of the Cominform. "It can be easily said that in this Milo Djukanovic does not have the support of the public, the more so because he speaks neither on behalf of the Government nor of the people of Montenegro", claimed the "well-versed", anonymous RTS commentator. Milosevic was obviously gambling on sewing the dissension within the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), also counting on the rebellion of"progressive forces" still loyal to him. Sources close to the Montenegrin leadership confirm that simultaneously with the media campaign, an enormous pressure was brought to bear on the leading men of the Democratic Party of Socialists and that they did not even shrink from direct and very personal threats, same as several years ago after the Montenegrin "betrayal" in the Hague.
However, those same sources also confirm that the interview published in "Vreme" was carefully studied by the top leadership of Montenegrin Socialists. Prime Minister Djukanovic had received the question some twenty days earlier, while he drafted the answers together with and with the suggestion of his men of trust. In any case, on a number of occasions the Montenegrin Prime Minister emphasized that there was no split in the DPS ranks. "The President of the Republic Mr.Bulatovic, Mr.Marovic, President of the Parliament and I are in full agreement on all most important strategic issues", claimed the Montenegrin Prime Minister.
The release of the Montenegrin Government addressed to the American Congress only two days after the publication of the mentioned interview, confirmed that "everything was under control" and that the Montenegrin top was united. This release was the Montenegrin reply, or better said objection, to stands expressed by Federal Foreign Minister, Milan Milutinovic in a protest addressed to the American Administration because of the visit of the American Congressmen to the FRY and the support they had extended to protesters in Belgrade. Montenegrins did not share Milutinovic's anti-American feelings. "I am deeply disappointed by the statement of the Foreign Ministry (MIP) and consider it a step back in the democratic process" said the letter of the Montenegrin Prime Minister, adding that "Serbia and Montenegro are equal members of the so called Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but our stands in relation to the visit of the American legislators are totally opposite".
Prime Minister Djukanovic was the first man from Montenegrin leadership to call the federal state the "so-called" thus raising hell in Belgrade. Djukanovic also indicated that "future congressional delegations will always be welcome in Montenegro", even if "they are not allowed to the Republic of Serbia".
The discrepancy between the political stances of the DPS leaders and the Serbian President is becoming increasingly apparent. This is no longer a perfidious game aimed at confusing the international community. However, the question remains why was the voice against Milosevic's policy raised only now? In the last several years the Montenegrin Socialist have jeopardized their international reputation unreservedly siding with the Belgrade dictator.
The Serbian President should start worrying. The recent past has shown that Milo Djukanovic, in his activities to date, has demonstrated an exceptional talent of turning his back on his fellow-combatants at a crucial moment when they were most vulnerable. Consequently, at the time of anti-bureaucratic revolution, at the last moment, but eloquently and effectively - he fell upon the former Montenegrin leadership whose favourite he had been till then. Similar was the destiny of his former political tutor from communist times - Stipe Suvar - whom Djukanovic politically "finished off" siding with Milosevic. Dobrica Cosic, Dragoslav Avramovic, Milan Panic could also testify how the DPS leaders, and especially the Montenegrin Prime Minister, without any qualms, "let them drown". In other words, Djukanovic did not lose his feeling for the right time to abandon the sinking ship.
Today Milosevic is more vulnerable than ever: his rule is seriously threatened, the army is dissatisfied and on the verge of survival, while the international community has definitely given up on him. However, it seems that Milosevic has not abandoned the idea of taking over the helm of the state, although it is quite clear that then FRY would really be a state without a future. Leaders of the Democratic Party of Socialists are aware of this. That is why Djukanovic said: "Milosevic is an obsolescent politician and should no more run for any position in FRY".
However, the interview was not motivated only by high politics. Namely, all information indicate that the specific concept of "self-financing" of Montenegro is in danger - i.e. black-marketing of cigarettes, oil and Russian diamonds. The channel of "additional profits" has been severed after the arrest of the bosses of the Italian Mafia "Santa corona unita" in the neighbouring Italy. Now only one smaller shipment of cigarettes a week gets across the Adriatic. In the meantime, the international community sent a clear message that it will not allow the formation of a new smuggling channel. Djukanovic himself explained the current economic situation in Montenegro. "In case Montenegro does not soon, as urgently as possible, integrate in the international flow of goods and capital, the Government will no longer be in the position to secure social peace", was the message of the Montenegrin Prime Minister from the recent session of the DPS Main Board.
There are two preconditions on which the struggle of Montenegrin authorities against Milosevic's propaganda and police machinery depends: that it gets a specific international support; and that the unity of the Democratic Party of Socialists perseveres. In addition, the political consensus in Montenegro could be of much help to Montenegrin authorities in their struggle against the Serbian President.
According to all available data, the Montenegrin authorities have already received the expression of support from the States, and consequently Europe, which gives them a free hand in squaring accounts with the Belgrade dictators. Other "factors" are much less predictable. The ruling party of Montenegro can hardly count on the support of the opposition. The National Unity coalition has already estimated Prime Minister Djukanovic's interview as "evasion of political responsibility" of the Montenegrin top.
The greatest unknown are the relations within the DPS. It seems, for the time being, that they are all more or less united in their support to the stands of Milo Djukanovic. However, all these years the Serbian police worked diligently on gathering every possible discrediting information on Montenegrin frontmen. In case of escalation of conflict, the question is whether the unity of Montenegrin Socialists will be preserved. In that war Milosevic will play relentlessly: the support of Montenegro is his only political mainstay. Therefore, we should wait for Bulatovic and Marovic to declare themselves. If the DPS leaders remain united and stick to their resolution to distance themselves from Milosevic, then hard days are ahead of the Serbian President.
Drasko DjURANOVIC AIM, PODGORICA