WED, 25 JUL 2001 23:09:30 GMT
New Federal Prime Minister Designate from SNP
The Prime Minister for a Short-Term
For the fourth time in a row, a Montenegrin will take the helm of the
new Federal Government and although Dragisa Pesic is relatively unknown
to the broader public, no one is predicting that he would last long as
chief of the Federal Government.
AIM Podgorica, July 18, 2001
The new Prime Minister designate of the FRY Government is Dragisa
Pesic. His Socialist National Party of Montenegro (SNP) - the strongest
parliamentary opposition party in Montenegro - nominated him for that
post on July 15. The next day, as expected, FRY President Vojislav
Kostunica agreed with this nomination thus finally putting an end to
twenty-day long speculations as to who would be entrusted with the
establishing the new Federal Government.
In other words, in only three years the FRY will for a fourth time in a
row get a Prime Minister from Montenegro, and the third one from the
Socialist National Party. After practically forgotten Radoje Kontic
(from the times of the united DPS), Momir Bulatovic and Zoran Zizic from
the SNP (who ended their careers ingloriously) Pesic will be the next to
try his hand at it.
The composition of Pesic's Cabinet is mostly known, since this was
agreed in Belgrade late last week after the SNP and the Democratic
Opposition of Serbia signed a new coalition agreement. The Montenegrin
coalition "For Yugoslavia" (composed of the Socialist National Party,
the National Party and the Serbian National Party) will get four
mandates: four ministerial posts in addition to the Prime Minister's.
Three Montenegrin parties will get the departments of justice, economy,
defence and transport and communications. Two Ministers will be from the
SNP, and one from the National Party and the Serbian National Party
each. The DOS will also get four ministries and the place of the
According to the available information, there were no misunderstandings
regarding departments, since this will be a provisional Government,
which should primarily enable the preparations for the adoption of the
future FRY Constitution and continue country's integration into
international economic institutions. The new Government should also
ensure adequate political and democratic conditions so that new federal
elections could be held in ten months, at the latest. According to
statements of its leaders, the only thing the coalition "For Yugoslavia"
insisted on was parity in the Federal Cabinet so that it could not be
outvoted in decision-making as happened during Zoran Zizic's Government.
In his first statement for the public, the future Prime Minister and
hitherto Finance Minister in Zoran Zizic's Cabinet, said that his
Cabinet "could not be of limited term because it represents a full
expression of the will and agreement of political factors at the federal
level". According to Pesic, that will be a Government with full
constitutional capacities and powers.
The new Prime Minister Designate of the Federal Government explained a
novelty: under the coalition agreement made with the Democratic
Opposition of Serbia (DOS), the Prime Minister will be able to veto
"decisions that are unacceptable for Montenegro". Vice-Premier of the
Government, who will be from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, will
also have that possibility according to Pesic who expressed his hope
that this right would not be exercised.
On that same day, in an interview for the Podgorica daily "The
News"(Vijesti), the SNP President Predrag Bulatovic presented his
somewhat different vision of the Government: "I shall insist that this
Government be provisional. Its mandate and priority will be to translate
into practice the new perception of relations in the future federation
of Montenegro and Serbia. The deadline for this is mid or end of August
so that a solution could be found for a disastrous state crisis and
agony of FRY that cannot last much longer".
Who is the new Federal Prime Minister? Dragisa Pesic was born in 1954
in Danilovgrad. He graduated from the Faculty of Economy in Sarajevo.
Until two years ago he worked as a financial expert in the economic
sector and was twice Chairman of the Executive Board of the Municipal
Assembly of Podgorica. He was a deputy to the Federal Assembly, Chairman
of the Budget Committee of the Chamber of Citizens and in 1998 was
elected Federal Minister of Finance. He discharged this function in
Prime Minister Zizic's Federal Government since last November. When the
Socialist National Party, whose President at that time was Momir
Bulatovic, split into two separate organisations he sided with Predrag
Pesic was nominated by his party for this function as the envisaged
deadline was expiring. According to many media, until the last minute
the main candidate for the Prime Minister designate was Predrag
Bulatovic, the SNP President. Rumour has it that Yugoslav President
Kostunica would have gladly seen him in that role. But, Bulatovic
refused that honour. Even Kostunica did not manage to persuade him to
move to Belgrade.
Why did the SNP leader decide to refuse the Prime Minister's chair?
That question bothered and still bothers many local advocates of the
joint state. It seems that the fates of Radoje Kontic, Momir Bulatovic
and Zoran Zizic, who will be remembered as Prime Ministers who did not
"interfere" much in the federal affairs, was for Bulatovic, as an
experienced politician, a sufficient warning not to continue political
career in Belgrade. Apart from that, political careers of all those
three went downhill after they stepped down as Prime Ministers.
Also, according to Bulatovic himself, FRY is in agony and the SNP's
political leader is probably weighing all political options. The fact is
that even SNP is no longer mentioning Yugoslavia without any other
alternative(which was Momir Bulatovic's slogan), while Predrag Bulatovic
insists that the Federation must be redefined. Until that time, the SNP
leader wants to avoid any possibility of discrediting himself.
Finally, Bulatovic still vividly remembers reproof from Belgrade his
party had been exposed to because of the "Hague Law". Therefore, he
chose a sure thing: better to stay in Montenegro, i.e. at the helm of
the SNP. And it seems that the monolithic unity of the party has been
disrupted once again and Bulatovic is the only one who can preserve it.
Both SNP's allies will take part in the Federal Government. That is a
great point for them and for that they should be thankful to the
coalition with Bulatovic's Socialists. It is interesting that the
National Party had boycotted the last year's federal elections and
cannot boast of some poltiical rating. However, it is noticeable that
the love for Yugoslavia is growing stronger in its ranks(although few
years ago they called Yugoslavia a watchman) ever since they got a
chance to grab a number of positions in the federal administration.
Regarding discussions on the formation of the new Government, members
of the National Party have launched an information that even the
Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro might take part in that
Government(which Podgorica doesn't recognise for some time). However,
that will not happen. President of the DPS Executive Committee Miodrag
Vukovic stated that his party would not participate in the formation of
the Federal Government, and that it was not interested in possible
federal elections. "The DPS will not take part in any federal elections,
either now or ever, because it considers FRY to be a hackneyed idea and
because the solution is not a joint state, but an alliance of mutually
recognised states of Montenegro and Serbia", said Vukovic.
Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic also stated his stand on
this issue. "The federal state is not a guarantee of good-quality and
stable relations between Serbia and Montenegro. On the contrary, it was
and still is a source of our conflicts, which was best seen in the
past", said Vujanovic for TV Montenegro.
That is why political analysts from Montenegro assess that the latest
Federal Prime Minister will not last long. Incidentally, leaders of
Serbian authorities are no longer hiding their dissatisfaction with the
federal authorities seeing them as a toll which Serbia doesn't need. In
Montenegro preparations are underway for a referendum on its
Serbia is also thinking about a referendum. That is why, Dragisa Pesic,
as the Federal Prime Minister, might join those who will drive the last
nail in the coffin of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Even the newly
introduced right of veto for the Federal Prime Minister cannot help him
much in this.