THU, 05 APR 2001 01:20:56 GMT
Montenegro's Reactions to the Milosevic Arrest
"A 'True Patriot" Got What He Deserved
Except for the People's Socialist Party, not one relevant actor on the
Montenegrin political scene spoke in defense of Slobodan Milosevic.
Some, the discontent (and worried) were silent, and the majority --
AIM Podgorica, April 1, 2001
Politicians and news media in Montenegro did not keep a low profile
regarding the events in Belgrade. The arrest of former Yugoslav
president Slobodan Milosevic was the number one topic in radio and TV
broadcasts, and party statements and promotions at the height of the
election campaign were overshadowed by the efforts to arrest Milosevic.
A former close collaborator of Slobodan Milosevic, Momir Bulatovic, did
not hasten to Belgrade to be at the side of the person whom he likes to
call "my sincere friend." From a distance of several hundred kilometers,
in Podgorica, he instead called for clemency for Milosevic, several
hours before he was arrested.
Bulatovic, who became Yugoslav prime minister at Milosevic's proposal,
arrived at a rally of his new party -- the People's Socialist Party --
wearing an immaculate and expensive suit and escorted by three frowning
bodyguards. The crowd, consisting of men whose faces were red from
drinking and women whose faces were smeared with cheap make-up, greeted
him with cheers and cries of "Slobo! Slobo!" They continued to cheer to
Milosevic throughout the rally occasionally interrupting Bulatovic's
As opposed to former officials of the Socialist People's Party turned
leaders of the People's Socialist Party, Novo Vujosevic and Emilo
Labudovic, who praised Milosevic as a "symbol of patriotism, freedom and
resistance" and a "defender of Yugoslav dignity," Bulatovic appeared
somewhat less inspired. He asked that Yugoslav President Vojislav
Kostunica pardon Milosevic, claiming that the stability of the country
depended on this. He backed his request with the fact that Kostunica had
pardoned ethnic Albanian poetess Flora Brovina, "Albanian terrorists and
Croat spies," and by calling the Yugoslav president "an honest and good
man and a jurist."
"I believe that all of us were deeply concerned last night over what
course events in Yugoslavia will take. I felt particularly bad because
it affected my sincere friend... I have cooperated with Milosevic for 10
years and I know that he is not guilty of a single crime listed in these
false accusations," Bulatovic said. He did not comment on the cries of
the crowd -- "Slobo!," "Slobo the Serb!," "Treason, treason!," and
"Let's go to Belgrade!" -- nor on the claims by Novo Vujosevic that "the
People's Socialist Party, together with the patriotic part of
Montenegro, will spare no political effort to fight those who extradite
defenders of the homeland to The Hague."
The People's Socialist Party accused the incumbent Yugoslav prime
minister, Zoran Zizic, of precisely such intention. The Socialist
People's Party, of which Zizic is a vice president, however, said it had
nothing to do with Milosevic's arrest. Neither did the federal
government. "The criminal charges for abuse of power and some other
criminal activities is in the jurisdiction of the Serbian judiciary,"
said the party's media representative, Dragan Koprivica. The prime
minister and other members of the federal cabinet made no public
statements, trying as best as they could to play down the negative
consequences of the arrest in the eyes of their backers.
Neither they nor their former leader, Momir Bulatovic, mentioned the
possibility that Bulatovic himself could be placed behind bars in
connection with the crimes that Milosevic was jailed for, and that a
similar fate was in store for Zivadin Jovanovic, former Yugoslav foreign
minister in the Bulatovic cabinet.
It is obvious that the Milosevic arrest will negatively affect the
election campaign of the Socialist People's Party, whose supporters have
on many occasions displayed their elation with Slobodan Milosevic. For
the People's Socialist Party, however, the arrest is a true gift -- they
can hope to win over many of the former's backers. Those most rigid, who
believe that invoking nationalism and chauvinism and organizing rallies
are still indispensable factors in the political struggle, have already
sided with Momir Bulatovic, and those who are still undecided between
moderate nationalist Kostunica and their dearest Slobo, are in the
process of making up their minds.
The other, democratic Montenegro, did not have to make any calculations.
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic replaced his definition of
Milosevic as the "dictator from Dedinje" by calling him a "definite
"Milosevic is a definite political loser who faces the moral and human
fall that he deserved," said Djukanovic, claiming that over the past 10
years Milosevic led his people and his country through a horrible plight
for selfish reasons -- only to secure power and privileges for himself
and his family.
The speaker of the Montenegrin Legislature, Svetozar Marovic, also
reacted to the events in Belgrade by saying that they "marked the
sorrowful end of one dictatorship." This time around the Democratic
Party of Socialists did not wait several days for passions to calm down
as it regularly does. Maybe this was due to the fact that several years
ago its representatives in the federal Parliament voted for Milosevic to
become Yugoslav president. Miodrag Vukovic, senior official of
Djukanovic's party, explained that on several occasions with their
conviction that Milosevic would respect the Constitution. Although they
certainly knew who he was because they had been Milosevic's coalition
partners since the beginning of the 1990s. Djukanovic, Marovic, Vukovic,
et al. only later learned that Milosevic has no respect for things he
Despite a multitude of conflicting statements and comments,
dissatisfaction with the explanations officially given as the reasons
for Milosevic's arrest was quite conspicuous. This was well-illustrated
by a question addressed by an official of the Social Democratic Party,
Miodrag Ilickovic, to Belgrade: "Will Gen. Mladic and Radovan Karadzic
be prosecuted for illegally moving into apartments in Belgrade, or for
disturbing Sarajevo's zoning plans?"
It is clear that in the campaign that is gaining momentum there will be
a lot talk about Milosevic and his allies in Montenegro as well.