Montenegro: The democratic consultative road to independence

Spring 2007  |  ARTICLES
Source : Ambassador's Review  

On June 3, 2006, Montenegro became the 192nd member state of The United Nations.Following almost a decade of negotiations, Montenegro, after the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992, entered first into a loose state union of Serbia and Montenegro in 1993.The thirteen years of transition to full independence in 2006 passed without any serious civil or political rights violations. The move for independence was rooted in the history of the Montenegrin people, who were independent from the late middle ages until 1918.The culture of Montenegro has been in Europe for over five centuries.Its status as an independent state was subsumed by the various incarnations of Yugoslavia starting in 1918.This was continued by the state union of Serbia and Montenegro in 1992.The eighty-eight years when Montenegro was without its independence ended on May 21, 2006, when the Montenegrin people decided that they wanted independence once again.On June 3, 2006, the Parliament of Montenegro formally declared that Montenegro was an independent, sovereign state.   Diamond in the Adriatic   Located in the West Balkans, on the shores of the Adriatic, the 5,019 square miles, about the size of North Carolina, Montenegro has a population of around 631,000 people.Montenegro, in the spotlight as a newly sovereign state, is being described as a diamond in Europe’s backyard.   The name “Montenegro” has been in existence since the 13th century. During the time of King Milutin in 1276 the name “Crna Gora” is mentioned for the first time.In one of my trips to Montenegro I entered by the road from Kosovo and passed through the beautiful forests.The trees were tall and dense and the traveler could feel that he was in the middle of the black mountains.    The history of the area goes back for a thousand years.The area around Lake Skada became independent in 1040 and was proclaimed a kingdom in 1077.This state was known as Zeta and thus was one of the first independent states in the Balkans.   Culture and history   Montenegrin prominence in European culture is also rooted in history.Centuries before Montenegrin literature became known throughout the world, a few years after the publication of the Gutenberg Bible in 1493, a printing shop came into existence in what is now Montenegro. During this period of cultural development, the Turks ruled until the 17th century.The Montenegrins, however, maintained considerable autonomy.Full independence was regained in the mid 17th century.This lasted until 1918 when the eighty-eight years dependence began.As already pointed out, independence returned to Montenegro in June 2006.   Religious pluralism and ethnic diversity   Given the sometimes negative relationship between various religious and ethnic communities in neighboring Balkan States, the world observed the political evolution in Montenegro with a certain apprehension.The record, however, has been one of an orderly transition that should set an example for neighboring Kosovo. Approximately 75% of the Montenegrin people are Eastern Orthodox; either Serbian Orthodox Church members or affiliated with the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.The second largest religious group is Muslim, around 110,000 constituting around 18% of the population.They are either Albanian or of Bosniak background. Catholics number around 4% of the population and they are mostly of Croat ethnic background.Albanian Catholics comprise the remainder of the Catholic popula