A RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION?
The Author, John Kennedy, was a British Parliamentary Candidate at
the 1992 and 1997 General Elections and formerly Political Secretary (1987-92)
to the the Secretary of State for Transport; Secretary of State for Health
and Secretary of State for Social Security. In 1993 he became a member
of the British Royal Household, firstly as Equerry and later Private Secretary
attending at official functions in England and abroad with members of the
British Royal Family. John Kennedy is of Montenegrin descent on one side,
through the Gvozdenovic family and Kennedy (Scottish) on the other.
The Yugoslav Coalition Government of President Kotunica (1)....
The Montenegrin Coalition Government of President Djukanovic....
Free market conservatism and the political parties of Montenegro....
History of Montenegro as an Independent State....
Unification of Montenegro into a Jugo-Slav State....
This paper is designed to provide an analysis, which examines
the self-determination of Montenegro but draws no conclusions. These are
essentially matters for the people of that Republic, and of Yugoslavia.
This is an examination of the views and positions that form the backdrop
to the latest crisis in the region, drawing on recent discussions.
In October Montenegros President, Milo Djukanovi, announced
that a referendum on secession would be held before June of next year.
The background was a period of virtual isolation from Serbia, since 1998,
when Montenegro broke with its Jugo-slav partner who was by then the only
other republic remaining in what had become a rump state.
For almost all of the period of the last two and a half years
President Slobodan Miloevi held sway in Belgrade while President Djukanovi,
with the active encouragement of the West, has disengaged himself and his
Republic from the Federation, almost totally.
In October of 1997, as Prime Minister, Mr. Djukanovi had scraped
through the presidential elections in Montenegro to beat the incumbent,
a staunch allie of Serbias President Miloevi. Western governments seized
the opportunity, hoping that Montenegro's change of leader would make the
republic a heavier geopolitical domino in the Balkans than its tiny size
While Dr Kotunica correctly points out that President Djukanovi
and his coalition originally voted to install President Miloevi as Head
of State, none the less in the years of separation Montenegro has enjoyed
frequent high level exchanges with representatives of various western governments,
often at a head of government or head of state level. Mr. Djukanovi has
been regarded de facto as a head of state, and his administration has been
extended the dignity usually reserved for sovereign representatives. President
Chirac of France was not alone in receiving the Djukanovi delegation with
full honors at the Elysees, at a time when NATO and the UN were conducting
operations against Serb forces in Kosovo.
Such endorsements were a tonic for those in Montenegro who believed
that it was time to find their own way out of the Yugoslav chaos. But at
the same time this policy irritated a considerable body of opinion in Montenegro
and overwhelmingly in Serbia, who saw any separatist tendency as not only
anti-Jugo-Slav but anti Serb specifically.
However the International attention Montenegro has received has
not only fuelled this whole debate, it has enabled it. It has made it possible
for Montenegrins to consider a future as a born-again independent entity.
In a sense the day by day politics of dealing with Miloevi has opened,
in Montenegro, the very questions that the same piecemeal approach opened
in Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. And as in those
republics it is difficult to simply switch off the current, simply because
this is a time for new politics.
Even with Miloevi gone, for the time being, it is clear that
President Djukanovis approach has found deep roots among an important
portion of the population in his Republic. Some argue too deeply to reverse,
others point to the fact that President Djukanovi himself will be finished
if Montenegro does not continue on the course it has hitherto charted.
Many suggest fierce opposition to such moves in parts of Montenegro. It
remains to be seen in what measure each side can claim support or if the
crisis can be resolved one way, or another, without another explosion.
With the election of President Kotunica, the West has urged
President Djukanovi to forgo independence and work out a new relationship
with Belgrade in part to ensure that a Yugoslavia exists in which Kosovo
can be a part, to avoid immediate demands for Kosovo's independence.
President Bill Clinton evoked this risk at the start of NATO's
campaign, saying that Kosovo, in contrast to Bosnia, was not confined by
natural borders but instead could evolve into an open?ended conflict liable
to spread through the southern Balkans and ultimately involve two North
Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, Greece and Turkey.
If Macedonia starts collapsing amid internal conflict, the position
of NATO forces there, currently 12,000 troops waiting for peacekeeping
duties in Kosovo, would be untenable.
The ramifications of this would extend into the wider Balkan
region, and include not only Macedonia but Greece as well. Self-determination
is an inalienable right, but only to a point.
Encouraging Montenegros de facto break away during the Miloevi
years was privately seen as a high-risk strategy, not least due to the
ever-present threat of intervention by the Federal Army. The removal of
boarder controls and visa requirements by the Montenegrin Government, flouting
Yugoslav sovereignty, was one in a line of measures that could have been
used as a pretext for a crack down. It would have left western military
and political leaders with a serious problem, having intervened so decisively
in Kosovo, which does not even enjoy the full status of a republic, but
is seen internationally as a province of Serbia, could it have stood by?
In egging on President Djukanovi the United States in particular
backed up Montenegro, it urged him out on a limb with its very public helpings
of aid and moral support ? and warned President Miloevi of dire consequences
if he threatened the small republic.
And it was very much touch and go. On one evening in particular,
during a session of the Montenegrin Parliament, a former president of that
Republic arrived in the capital while the Federal Yugoslav army were put
on high alert. If, as had been expected, the issue of independence had
been declared during the session, a coup detat would have come into immediate
effect. But Montenegro, which has a surprisingly sophisticated intelligence
service, was one step ahead. While acrimonious, the session, which was
frequently adjourned, was completed without interference or any significant
But Serbia's democratic revolution, which drove President Miloevi
from power in early October, has changed things. Now the Clinton administration
has explicitly warned President Djukanovi to ease up on his quest for
Montenegrin independence or face a cutoff of aid. In October, during a
visit to the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, the US Balkans envoy, James
O'Brien, made it clear to Mr. Djukanovi that continued delivery of US
aid ? to reach $89 million this year ? depended on his willingness to avoid
"unilateral" steps to break away from Serbia
So western policy has been decisive in creating, or resurrecting,
a political current in Montenegro. It has built up and given status to
President Djukanovi who now finds that his position at home has been weakened
by President Kotunica's election.
Mr. Djukanovi argues that Yugoslavia no longer exists and that
he does not recognise Mr. Kotunica as president of Yugoslavia, simply
the democratically elected leader of Serbia. That infuriates the Yugoslav
President, who is open for negotiating a new relationship or even separation,
so long as the process is transparent and capped by referendums in both
This shift has angered some US Republicans. They say the threat
is tantamount to betrayal. The Kentucky Senator, Mitch McConnell, chairman
of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, even went as
far as delaying $10 million in US aid to Serbia.
An aide to Mr. McConnell said the senator was also resisting
efforts by officials to block money for customs training and central?bank
reform in Montenegro, which the administration fears could be construed
as supporting independence.
McConnell supports whatever the Montenegrins want to do and
doesn't believe that the United States should blackmail them into a course
of action inconsistent with their aspirations.
President Djukanovi, though eager to stay on good terms with his American
patrons, has also given them cause for alarm by proposing that Montenegro
and Serbia occupy separate seats in the United Nations, according to a
letter he wrote on 27th October to Secretary?General Kofi Annan.
Montenegrin sovereignty, Mr. Djukanovi wrote, is the foundation
of our initial proposal to President Vojislav Kotunica, namely the proposal
that acclaims the relationship of Montenegro and Serbia as an alliance
of two internationally recognized states.
For the first time, on 12th October, President Kotunica said
that the coastal republic of Montenegro could choose to seek independence
from Serbia. The President conceded that he would bow to the will of Montenegro
If the will of the people of Montenegro will be not to be part of the
federation, this will is to be respected. Only two days before Dr Kotunica
stated that there was no provision in the Yugoslav constitution to allow
Montenegro to secede.
But in reality the election of President Vojislav Kotunica means
that there will be no different policy on the question of Yugoslavia. Dr
Kotunica has made it clear that there is no support for the removal of
Montenegro, and further more Dr Kotunica has subsequently succeeded in
having Yugoslavia reinstated as a member of the United Nations, as a single
entity, as the successor to the former Yugoslavia, a move which gives Yugoslavia
the lead role in the region, reversing Montenegros role and importance
at a stroke.
There are strong grounds to argue that Serbia and Montenegro
fit together naturally, more so than any of the former republics that once
made up Yugoslavia. Nationalistic elements of Serb opinion, a body to which
President Kotunica undoubtedly belongs, see overwhelming historic, religious
and political reasons for the union of Serbs from Serbia and Serbs from
Even the supporters of the development of two distinct states
are not in total disagreement - they see a certain commonality of cause,
there is no schism here, not at least of the kind seen between Serb and
Croat or Croat and Muslim in other parts of the former Yugoslavia.
But on the other hand, those seeking Montenegrin independence
also argue that Mr. Kotunica is not Yugoslavia, and that the good will
invested in that state today, absent yesterday, may well be gone tomorrow.
Turmoil could yet return. A demand for parallel equality between the two
republics, in a single state, is as logical and reasonable as it is absurd,
in terms of a population divide of 95%/5%, respectively. Those seeking
independence suggest that with just two republics remaining the only answer
is a new arrangement, one of confederation between sovereign states.
Opinion on the structure of Yugoslavia is entrenched. The West
fears fuelling Kosovan separatism and Serbia is aware that further moves
along these lines may also open up the question of Vojvodina and the Sanjak
at a later stage, thus giving new momentum to the Yugoslav-domino effect
The Serbs of Serbia regard the inhabitants of Montenegro as Serbs
- without distinction. Montenegrins meanwhile, probably by a majority,
recognise themselves merely as ethnic kin - brothers.
Montenegrins point to the fact that unlike other former Yugoslav
republics, Montenegro has been a Sovereign state. She was recognised by
the international community until the early years of the last century,
and was finally annexed in what many regard as a duplicitous and undemocratic
Montenegro's modern union with Serbia dates only from 1918. After
the Turks' defeat of the Serbs in Kosovo in the 14th century, Montenegro
was never subdued, although the Ottomans didnt officially recognize its
independence until 1799.
The Serbians on the other hand claim that the unification of
Serbia and Montenegro fulfilled a long held dream, of both the Serbians
and the Serbs of Montenegro; to live in a single homeland. The whole issue
of the union between Serbia and Montenegro, of the Paris Peace Conference
in 1919, of the arrival of the Serbian army, is suddenly current once again.
Montenegro in particular sees parallels, whereby on both occasions it sided
with the allied powers, and on both occasions was abandoned upon final
victory. Today, however there is a significant difference. President Djukanovi
is neither in exile, nor is he an old man, as was Montenegros King Nicholas
I at the end of Word War I.
On 7th January 1919 the late King of Montenegro wrote from Paris
to President Woodrow Wilson, a letter which the American leader described
as moving, ironically it is a text that might be sent by today, by the
current Montenegrin figurehead:
The union of Montenegro with its Jugoslav brothers?
But all my life I have been the most resolute and most listened
to partisan of it! Only, I have always felt that it was necessary to leave
my people an independence which they have so dearly bought by five long
centuries of strife, and I have always proclaimed that in the formation
of a Jugoslav community each member ought to preserve its autonomy. This
I re-stated in October 1918. No Jugoslavia is possible, in my opinion,
without liberty and equality among its members.
One option now open to western policy makers is to stall on the
question of further disintegration and attempt to buy a way out of the
crisis. Against Montenegrin pressure to conclude a future arrangement the
west might encourage a climate in which the economic advantages of a growth
economy in Yugoslavia undermine the tide of secessionism. This may well
work, it cannot be denied that there is a strong faction in Montenegro
who vehemently oppose any divorce from Serbia, and even a faction in President
Djukanovis own party has not been won over to the secessionist talk.
The one time Balkan economic power house (Yugoslavia has previously
enjoyed one of the highest growth rates in the world) is already regarded
by analysts as having the best potential, in terms of production capabilities
and as a market significant enough to make it a potential engine for a
general Balkan recovery.
The British Government has already announced £10m in bilateral
aid for the refugee and civil population. Of that, the Department of Trade
and Industry is participating with £1.2m of assistance, in addition
to 17% UK participation in the 200m Euros that the EU is sending in urgent
aid for wintertime needs.
The Japanese have pledged $10 million in aid for a start and
want to participate in infrastructure projects next year.
Trade delegations from Greece, Austria and the Czech Republic
have visited. American and European companies are considering investing
or reviving dormant links, and some that weathered the storm have expansion
plans. In 1989, Yugoslavia was the wealthiest and most politically and
economically liberal nation in the Communist world and investors see opportunity.
With eight million people in Yugoslavia, plus or minus two million
Kosovans and two million Serbs in the diaspora, Yugoslavia is one of the
Balkans' biggest and most important markets.
President Kotunica believes in speedy privatization with State
assets such as the Ni tobacco factory, electric, oil and gas companies;
cement factories; and the government's 51 percent stake in Telecom Serbia
all being prime targets.
The New York Times recently reported that the Austrian Construction
Company, Bau Holding Strabag A.G., is exploring the loans and grants promised
to Serbia for rebuilding by the European Union and others. There are projects
for the reconstruction of bridges over the Danube as well as new highways.
The Austrian bank Raiffeisen Zentralbank Group hopes to set up
in Yugoslavia having contacted several Yugoslav banks with a view to establishing
relationships with them as correspondent partners.
But the New York Times also reports that the key is whether the
government (Republic of Serbia - not Yugoslavia) that emerges from the
December elections can push significant reforms through the regional parliaments
in Serbia and Montenegro and whether the governments can hold together
through the pain of reforms.
If he is to succeed the key task facing President Kotunica must
be to convince enough of Montenegros population that the benefits of this
industrial and market potential will outweigh what the independence movement
believe they can offer by an economy based on a unique fiscal framework
with a mix of tourism and financial services associated with an off shore
Montenegrin leaders have, since 3rd November 1999, abolished
the ailing Dinar in favor of the German mark which, at that point, became
The Dinar had been trading on the streets at one third of its
official value at the time.
Mr. Djukanovi was repeatedly described as a pro?Western at the
time by leaders such as Mr. Blair and President Clinton. His move on currency
has given him a strong weapon against a return to a unified system, arguing
that to re-adopt the dinar would remove the effect of a currency that has
seen food staples, pensions, utility bills and other government?regulated
prices remain stable.
Whether Montenegro can be sustained in the future from a tourist
industry, which has collapsed, or by a financial service sector that has
yet to arrive, is another matter. In both the case of Serbia and Montenegro,
new investors need to be convinced that institutionalised incompetence
as well as bureaucracy and corruption has been stamped out.
President Kotunicas has a small window of opportunity, a time
in which he must show that the trickle down theory can have a bearing,
but in a climate where the tax and revenue system has collapsed. The sale
of State assets will have to do more than convert capital holdings into
Those close to President Kotunica believe that Mr. Djukanovi
is now deliberately seeking to incite anti?Montenegrin sentiment in Serbia,
as a means of pushing the issue of coexistence to the top of the political
debate. In other words, that he is making radical moves and statements
in order to elicit the response "if the Montenegrins want to go, let them."
Allies of Dr Kotunica openly question the motive of secession,
believing that the Montenegrin President is responsible for introducing
a new crisis of chauvinism. They privately accuse Mr. Djukanovi of the
same thing that former President Miloevi was denounced for in the past;
namely being no more than a former communist who has taken the banner of
nationalism in order to preserve his own power and for his own ends.
Why, they ask, was Yugoslavia acceptable to President Djukanovi
and his party in 1992 and so unacceptable now? They assert that while President
Miloevi was in power the argument that the central government wasn't
allowing reform held water. What is the argument now, they ask? They do
not believe that Montenegro can seriously question Belgrade's Unitarian?state
pressures, or anti?reform obstruction. They draw parallels to the views
of Bosnias President Izetbegovic, who once stated that he would be willing
to sacrifice peace for independence. Why, they ask, risk secession and
internal turmoil in Montenegro? Is it such a burning necessity, a matter
of life?and?death for Montenegro to become independent?
President Kotunica was a reluctant candidate for the Yugoslav
Presidency, he threw his hat into the ring having made certain conditions
to his coalition partners in (DOS). One of these was that the existence
of Yugoslavia must be recognized as a de jure reality and that the Federal
Government should have a say in the future of the country.
President Djukanovi neither agreed to these conditions, nor,
more to the point recognised the elections. The Montenegrin President made
the point that he was being asked to enter a democratic process against
a President (Miloevi) whom the international community had declared as
an outlaw. Mr. Djukanovi privately argued that there was a real possibility
that President Miloevi might win. What then? There could be no claim
that the victor had no credibility, unless the plan was to refuse to recognise
the result. In this case what point in having the elections at all?
Certainly neither President Djukanovi, nor a large body of opinion
in Montenegro, wanted to have to recognise a post victorious Miloevi.
And it should be said that for a large part Mr. Djukanovis international
status came as a result of the world communitys hope that the Montenegrin
leader might replace President Miloevi as a new Yugoslav head of State.
Yet again, as in other republics, this policy bypassed the Yugoslav structure,
in the hope of undermining it. Yet again one more republic started to build
itself apart from the Federal structure, and was encouraged to do so.
President Kotunica has been determined to avoid a situation
in which the governments of the republics negotiate between themselves,
leaving him with nothing more than the role of a new Gorbachov. As an American
official put it; to pursue the goal of independence for Montenegro now
that Mr. Kotunica is in power, runs the risk of putting the Yugoslav president
"in the position of the guy who lost Montenegro", but this was a role they
were quite happy to cast for President Miloevi
Now members of the ruling coalition of Montenegro (SDP and DPS)
openly reject the role of the Federal Government. On 20th November, Ranko
Krivokapi, SDP vice?president, said that "The federal government is illegitimate"
and that any future talks concerning the country can be held only between
delegations of Serbia and Montenegro. He added that Dr Kotunica might
only participate as a member of Serbian delegation.
Aleksandar Djurisi of the DPS, the second member of the Montenegrin
coalition, said that this policy is based on the standpoint of two separate
entities. That Montenegro would further wait until after Serbia's (20th
December) elections to hold talks.
Dragan Soc, the president of NS, the third party in the coalition,
was more equivocal, saying that "anyone who is politically relevant should
participate in the talks about the future of the state," and that "any
agreement between the political elites must also be verified by the citizens
of both Serbia and Montenegro, so that we would avoid the repeat of the
situation where parties form a state."
President Kotunica is a Constitutional Lawyer by profession.
As such he is a keen and fastidious follower of detail, he raises the question
of the legitimacy of call for a referendum before organizing early elections
in Montenegro, where the voters would have a chance to have their say on
each party's program. Critics point to the fact that President Djukanovi's
DPS didn't participate in the previous elections on a pro?independence
platform, but only on a pro?reform and anti?Miloevi ticket.
The Montenegrins believe this to be a pedantic point, without
any actual constitutional relevance.
What most pro-Yugoslav observers concern themselves with is the
question of who controls the (Montenegrin) state?run media, which is being
increasingly accused of propagating pro?independence views, just as during
recent conflicts it was derided in Serbia as a mouth piece for NATO.
The Yugoslav Coalition Government of President Kotunica
President Kotunica has the disadvantage of trying to manage the
difficult transition from a previous regime. At the same time he must maintain
a wholly artificial coalition that on paper is incredible.
The President is secure, for now, largely because of his immense
popularity, according to latest surveys Kotunicas party is by far the
most popular ? over 30% support, more than double of his coalition
partner, the Democratic Party leader, Zoran Djindjic. But this is an exhaustible
currency and he has little else in reserve, certainly not the luxury of
a parliamentary majority. The fact that President Kotunica is directly
elected may be enough, but it may only be enough, to coin a phrase, keep
him in office, but not in power.
The President must move ahead with his agenda, his adherence
to the letter of constitutional law is seen by some as his Achilles heal
in a country impatient for change and at a time when a public debate smolders
within the 18?party coalition, known as the Democratic Opposition of Serbia,
Dr Kotunica wants legality. Much of the coalition, dominated
by the Democratic Party leader, Zoran Djindjic, wants a more urgent tempo.
Dr Kotunica spoke delicately of "different approaches" within the coalition,
but observers report a subtext that is that Dr Kotunica and Mr. Djindjic
simply do not trust each another. Dr Kotunica does not want Mr. Djindjic
to control the secret police or its files; Mr. Djindjic thinks Dr Kotunica
is not sufficiently committed to systemic change. Dr Kotunica has a small
party but is hugely popular; Mr. Djindjic has a large party but small electoral
support, with high negatives.
In that sense, they need each other. But it is also obvious that
the DOS coalition will split some around Mr. Kotunica believe he should
capitalize on his own popularity and run his own slate of candidates for
the Serbian Parliament in the 23rd December and let Mr. Djindjic and those
who follow him fend for themselves. But most believe that it is symbolically
important for coalition to remain together through the elections and form
a responsible Serbian government, breaking into two or three factions later,
and Mr. Kotunica and Mr. Djindji have been urged to work more closely
together. As a consequence the coalition is entering the elections together,
with President Kotunicas name at the head of the list, whilst Mr. Djindji
hopes to become Prime Minister.
1 The New York Times:Case for a Serbian Democracy (Without Purges)
- Steven Erlanger & The Daily Telegraph reports
The Montenegrin Coalition Government of President
DPS ? Demokratska Partija Socijalista (The Socialist Democratic Party)
President Djukanovi's party, which was originally the Communist
Party of Montenegro, until it changed its name, in 1992. It split into
two in 1997, after which Mr. Djukanovi became its president, having beaten
Momir Bulatovi in the battle for the party's name
SNP ? Socijalisticka Narodna Partija (The Socialist Peoples Party)
Resulted after the DPS split. President Momir Bulatovic; the former
President of Montenegro and Prime Minister of Yugoslavia is now MP in the
Montenegrin Parliament. Vice?Pesidents: Predrag Bulatovi, Srjda Bozovi,
Zoran Zizi (new Prime Minister of Yugoslavia). These were President Miloevi's
coalition partners in the previous parliament. This Party acknowledged
the DOS victory and possibility of voting irregularities early on and is
current DOS's coalition partner in Federal Yugoslav Parliament. This party
supports a federated Yugoslavia with Montenegrin equality. It is not
clear what this means.
SDP ? Socijaldemokratska Partija. (Social Democratic Party)
This party has always been for an independent Montenegro, but
not as radically until recently. While it has never won more than 5?7%
of the popular vote it is none the less part of the ruling, three?way coalition
NS ? Narodna Stranka (Peoples Party)
The shakiest part of the ruling coalition, with no defined stance.
The party began as a Serb?nationalist party in 1990 but Dr Kilibarda, their
founder, moved to a pro?Montenegrin platform as the conflict with President
Miloevi sharpened. The party currently says that they will leave the
coalition if DPS and SPD assemble a pro?independence platform. The party
is a proponent of a political agreement with parties in Serbia, as well
as the Federal Government. They will only support a referendum if "the
[Montenegrin] media are freed" beforehand.
LSCG ? Liberalni Savez Crne Gore (Liberal Council of Montenegro)
This party has been a radical proponent of secession from the start.
It was founded by Slavko Perovi, who is now Treasurer of the party after
having resigned as president after the last elections, in which they made
their weakest showing yet.
This party stands behind the re-formation of the Montenegrin Orthodox
Church attending its parallel celebrations of Christmas and Easter en mase.
This party seems set to take Narodna Strankas (Peoples Party) place
in the coalition should the latter leave. This would give a new coalition
a single seat majority in Parliament.
SNS ? Srpska Narodna Stranka (Serbian Peoples Party)
Bozidar Bojovi is the President of this party, a splinter from the
Narodna Stranka (Peoples Party), having broken off in protest at Dr Kilibarda's
pro?Montenegrin turn. The party participated in the last Federal elections
and has a minister in the Government ? the Minister of Religion. The party
is politically allied with the SNP and pro?Serb and Yugoslav in
Free market conservatism and the political parties
Conservatism, a real free market liberal philosophy, is a concept
that has yet to be introduced to any political milieu in a respectable
or decisive way in what remains of Yugoslavia. As with much of the
former Eastern Bloc no true conservative program exists within any one
Party programs are not meaningful in the way they are in the
British political system . Each party talks "reform" ideas without a clear
demonstration that they know what it means or even what it is they want
The SNP is the most left?of?centre in its economic and social
programs, in the sense that they would prefer the preservation of state
control over the strategic industries, most of which have in any case collapsed.
The DPS is, in expression, for social justice but, in practice,
wants to privatise as much as possible without denationalization or too
The LSCG is the most economically liberal and capitalist in outlook
of the Montenegrin parties, but has no support in the Republic of Montenegro
(although it could yet hold the balance of power in a new coalition).
The SDP is another "reform"?spouting hybrid, while the NS is
centrist, leaning more to the right economically.
The legacy of communism has made free-market conservatism a taboo.
It will be some time before a movement can develop. And in the mean time
there seems an ever-present need for the "socialist" label among all on
the political scene.
In the Yugoslav context President Kotunicas DSS is probably
the closest thing to a quasi conservative party, along with the Serbian
branch of the SDS.
Before the arrival of the Slavs in the Balkans during the VI century
AD, the area now known as Montenegro was inhabited principally by Illyrians.
After several punitive expeditions against local pirates, this kingdom
was finally conquered by the Romans in AD 9 and annexed to the province
The division of the Roman Empire between Roman and Byzantine
rules-and subsequently between the Latin and Greek churches-was marked
by a line that ran northward through modern Montenegro, symbolizing the
status of this region as a perpetual marginal zone. During the decline
of Roman power, this part of the Adriatic coast suffered from intermittent
ravages by various semi nomadic invaders, especially the Goths in the late
V century and the Avars during the VI century. These were soon supplanted
by the Slavs, who became widely established in this part of the Balkan
by the middle of the VII century. Because of the extreme raggedness of
the terrain and the lack of any major sources of wealth such as mineral
riches, the area that is now Montenegro became a haven for residual groups
of earlier settlers, including some tribes who had escaped Romanization.
History of Montenegro as an Independent State
That Montenegro was both free and independent before 1918 plays
heavily in the arguments of those seeking a referendum on the future. They
contend that since Yugoslavia began to disintegrate, the constituent republics
have in turn voiced their will and made expressions of their own self-determination.
Moreover, in the case of Montenegro in particular, since the absorption
of that State was initially made without any plebiscite, the case is put
that such process is not only logical, but also proper.
Governor Radonjic in 1711 wrote to Maria Teresia, that Montenegro
is divided in five regions (nahija?Pjesivci included). They are governed
by 5 Grand Dukes, 9 Dukes, and 34 Princes. Furthermore he suggested that
Grand Dukes have a very important role and should be paid twice as much
as the Dukes
[Zapisi, 1939, Cetinje].
Following the liberation's wars (1875?1878) the Berlin Congress
gave Montenegro full international recognition, transforming the state
from a de facto nation in to one de jure. This gave the country the opportunity
to develop along more recognised state lines, with the establishment a
proper legal and constitutional framework. The effects of centuries of
almost permanent siege were lifted and Montenegrins began to travel abroad
for both education and commerce. Montenegro realised that it needed the
advantages of broad and good education for its tiny population, so, in
addition to students studying away, the government commissioned new schools
throughout the territory. Social and economic development was further improved
by the regaining of the Montenegrin towns from the Turkish control.
The Sovereign Prince (Nicholas) abolished the Senate replacing
it with the State Counsel, Ministries, and the High Court. In 1888 a new
Common Law replaced the 'General Law of the Land' (the code of Montenegro
and the Mountains) of Prince Danilo used since 1855. The High Court
signified the separation of state judicial function from executive. Prince
Nicholas also introduced the Property Law (Imovinski zakonik) with precise
definitions of property rights and obligations (1888). Until the judicial
reforms in 1902, appeals against court ruling were filled to the Sovereign
Prince Nicholas who was the final arbiter. That practice continued even
after the judicial reforms but the Prince consulted the High Court, sometimes
referring the issues back to the High Court.
On the St. Nicholas Day Assembly (Nikoljdan) on 19th December1905,
Prince Nicholas introduced the Montenegro's first formal Constitution.
According to the new Constitution, Montenegro was a constitutional but
not a parliamentary monarchy. The introduction of the constitution with
new legislation on the Freedom of Press and Criminal Law, paved the way
for a modern legal framework.
The unification of all the parts of Montenegro in a single unity
was helped by the introduction of the postal, telegraphic and telephonic
In 1910, Parliament raised the Sovereign Prince to King and thus
proclaimed Montenegro a constitutional monarchy. But while King Nicholas
became a monarch his power and authority were diminishing. Financially
powerful individuals began emerging in Montenegrin towns. They saw the
power of an autocracy as an obstacle to economic progress. Similarly, a
number of Montenegrins who returned from Western countries, where they
had worked and experienced democratic freedoms, were not happy with autocratic
From the 1880s a significant number of pupils and students had
gone to study in Serbia. In Serbia they were heavily influenced by the
ideas of the governing Serbian nationalistic bourgeoisie, which, from the
time of Prince Milos, saw the annexation of Montenegro as a logical step
in the interests of the Serbs of the region as a whole.
King Nicholas, who had been on the Throne for over half a century,
was losing his touch. He appears to have made a series of critical errors
of judgement. All this at a time when his own genuine desire for pan-slav
union was adding to the clamour for a single Serb state.
In the years leading to the First World War affairs in Montenegro
were heavily influenced by the division between the representatives of
'people movement' and those of the Government. In the political arena,
the main political parties were 'People Party' (Narodna Stranka) led by
Sako Petrovic, better known as 'Klubasi' and 'The True People Party' (Prava
Narodna Stranka) known as 'Pravasi' led by Lazar Mijuskovic. Klubasi were
the first parliamentary and democratic party in Montenegro. Their political
credo was the unification of Serbia and Montenegro and dethronisation of
the 'non?peoples' king. The methods of their political activities were
as ruthless as the Nicholas' treatment of their activists.
In the dynastic fight for prestige and the Serbian throne between
Petrovic and Obrenovic dynasties, King Nicholas had an advantage before
the rise to power of Radical Party in Serbia. The Radical Party justified
its name by radically departing from the policies they preached prior to
coming to power. Following the rise to power, Radicals start expressing
their aspiration for Greater Serbia. King Nicholas of Montenegros desire
to be the first Yugoslav king was being seen as unattainable ambitions.
Pursuing its own interests, Russia instructed its most loyal
ally in the Balkans to make a pact and military convention with other Balkan
states. King Nicholas and his government made the Balkan Pact with Bulgaria,
Greece, and Serbia during 1912. In the forthcoming Balkan Wars, Turkey
suffered humiliated defeat, despite the support from Austro?Hungary, and
was pushed back toward Asia.
Montenegro believed that it had emerged as the main victor in
both Balkan Wars, despite heavy casualties.
Perhaps the final nail in the coffin lid came just before the
First World War when King Nicholas signed 'Plan for (military) operations'
with the Serbian Government, hoping to achieve more co?operation between
the people of Serbia and Montenegro. Some judge this as the fatal mistake
as it allowed the Serbian authorities to send their own officers to command
part of the Montenegrin Army. All this in the midst of the dynastic struggle
for supremacy between the tiny royal house of Montenegro and the much more
powerful, but relatively new Serbian dynasty.
Austria occupied Montenegro in 1915, when Serb?led forces protecting
the region retreated to Greece via Albania. The Allies quickly declared
their solidarity with the defeated Montenegro. The Prime Minister David
Lloyd George promised, "The Allies will do justice to the heroism of the
Montenegrins." The Allies did win the war, but Montenegro did not regain
sovereignty. When Austria retreated in defeat in 1918, Serbia moved in,
purportedly to secure Montenegro's stability for a transitional period.
Following Austrian advances, King Nicholas fled Montenegro on
22 January 1916, the day after sending the Queen and his remaining daughters
to a safe haven across the Adriatic in Italy, where his sixth child, Elena,
was Queen and consort. He exiled to France where he remained until his
After his departure and the declaration of the unification
of Serbia and Montenegro (1918) into a single entity, Montenegro ceased
to operate as an independent country and kingdom.
Unification of Montenegro into a Jugo-Slav State
During the World War I the unification of Montenegro and Serbia
was the primary task of supporters of leaders such as Serbian Prime Minister
Nikola Pasic. Pasic's aim was to annex Montenegro without negotiation.
The Serbian government, and Pasic personally, formed the 'movement for
unification' and embarked on a campaign (1916 and 1917), that was to show
necessity and inevitability of unification. This became the official Serbian
strategic policy approved by the Serbian government and Regent Alexander
[D.Vujovic, Montenegrin Federalists 1919?1929, CANU, 1981, Titograd,
The preparations for a formal unification (at the Podgorica's
Assembly) were very short. The supporters of unification chose most of
the delegates for Podgorica Assembly (Podgoricka Skupstina) often by simply
naming delegates, to be invited by the organizers.
[D.Vujovic, Crnogorski federalisti 1919?1929, CANU, 1981, Titograd,
Podgorica's Assembly took place in the Tobacco monopoly building
on 11 November 1918. Some delegates demanded that, instead of rushing to
unite, Montenegro was restored as sovereign country and than to negotiate
the question of unity with the Serbian government. In particular it was
pointed out that a large majority of legitimately elected Assembly members
were wither still in Allied countries, or still held captive by the enemy.
Nonetheless, the Podgorica's Assembly, with its newly appointed
members"unanimously" and "by acclamation" decided the following:
that King Nicholas I and his dynasty be dethroned forever from
that Montenegro unconditionally unite with Serbia in one state under
dynasty of Karadjordjevi and so united "enter in mutual homeland our three?named
people Serbs, Croats and Slovenes",
and that these Assembly's decisions to be transmitted to: ex King Nicholas
I and his sons, Serbian and allied governments, as well as all neutral
[translated from J.Jovanovic, Stvaranje Crnogorske drzave i Razvoj
Crnogorske nacije, 1947, Cetinje, p.436].
Dissatisfaction with Podgorica's Assembly spread quickly all
over Montenegro, but it was particularly prominent in what was called 'Old
Montenegro'. Even the people who were in favour of unification of what
they called "Serb people into a single Serb state" were dismayed at the
way the unification proceeded, at the way Montenegrins were treated, and
above all with the behavior of Serb troops.
Thousands of Montenegrins, took up arms (on Christmas eve of
1919) and surrounded the towns of Cetinje, Niksic, Rijeka Crnojevica, and
Virpazar. They demanded that Serbian troops leave Montenegro, and that
those who instrumentalized Podgorica's Assembly be tried. They, however,
wanted to avoid bloodshed and issued the statement to Serbian authorities:
"The assembly that took place in Podgorica on 11 November 1918, was
scheduled in defiance of our Constitution, and above all, against the will
of absolute majority of Montenegrins; therefore that led to uprising of
Montenegrins against the decision of the Assembly whose executive branch
[D.Vujovic, Montenegrin Federalists 1919?1929, CANU, 1981, Titograd,
Though larger in number the rebels were poorly armed and disorganized.
They were little match for Serbian artillery and suffered a frontal defeat
Montenegro became the only Allied country in World War I to be
annexed to another country after the end of the war even though it finished
the war on the winning side. Moreover, following unification, Montenegro
lost its official name and was administratively declared a region of Yugoslavia
called Zeta (Zetska Banovina).
In spite of diplomatic efforts and allied assurance, Montenegro
was never restored and continued to be a part of Yugoslavia, through its
various incarnations, to the present.
STATE DEPARTMENT FILE NO 701. 7311/32
REMARKS OF GENERAL A GVOZDENOVIC, NEWLY APPOINTED MINISTER OF
MONTENEGRO, ON THE OCCASION OF HIS RECEPTION BY PRESIDENT WILSON, SEPTEMBER
WHITE HOUSE DC
Mr. President: The King, my August Sovereign, has deigned to entrust
me with the high mission of representing his Government near the Federal
Government of the United States and I have the honour to present to Your
Excellency the letters which accredit me in the capacity of minister plenipotentiary
and envoy extraordinary.
I am instructed to express to you, Mr. President, the profound
satisfaction with which His Majesty the King, his Government and all Montenegrin
experience in having the relations of sincere friendship and sympathy which
already bound our small country to your great nation made closer by this
You will permit me to add that I realize with feelings of emotion
the honour of being, near your great republic, the first minister plenipotentiary
sent by Montenegro.
My countrys admiration and enthusiasm for the United States
rest on well-defined and deep-seated grounds.
With us, as with you, ideas of justice and liberty are not imported
and artificially infused in our minds; they are the natural offspring of
For five centuries we have fought without respite our enemy who
has succeeded in crushing the pride of the strongest nations. Neither were
we fighting for our own land only, but also for the oppressed people of
our blood, our Jugo-Slav brothers, so that they might have their day of
freedom. Thanks to our tenacity, never during those five centuries, in
spite of all the hurricanes and cataclysms, was there any extinction at
the summit of our mountains of that beacon of independence that we strained
with our every effort to keep alive, of that small,
flickering, but burning light to which all the unfortunate Balkan peoples
turned their eyes and their hopes.
Impelled by that tradition which for the sake of Slavic solidarity
has been, is and will be our law, we entered at once the present war and
attempted to achieve the impossible. That the task was overwhelming this
time, was no fault of ours.
So for many years our country, increasingly constrained to depend
on arms for its very existence, failed to develop its domestic and foreign
commerce, to create industries, to improve the agricultural opportunities
offered by the territory it lately acquired, to exploit its mineral reserves
that have not yet been broached. In the hours of truce many of our young
men had to leave their homes that they had bravely just saved. This country
of bold initiative is that to which they came.
Their appeal to your nation for employment of their activities
and strengths, for their daily bread and for the comfort of their old age
when they would again see the wild scenery of their beloved motherland
was not in vain.
By degrees and through those Montenegrin who crossed the ocean,
America has come to be known and beloved in our mountains. It has grown
to be looked to as a tenderhearted friend. At this very moment the emigrants
from Montenegro scattered over the vast territory of the greatest of the
republics watch in enthusiastic interest your magnificent reparation for
victory. But while they acclaim your soldier leaving for Europe, I know
that their enthusiasm is mingled with regret that they cannot join in the
struggle under the colours of their King and his country. Deep will be
their joy when they hear today that I have spoken for them in their gratefulness
for the generous hospitality extended to them in their day of misfortune
by the United States.
But that, Mr. President, is not I am sure the only word of gratitude
I shall have to bring you n the name of Montenegro. My venerable Sovereign
and his Government know indeed how strongly the intentions of the Federal
Republic coincide with the legitimate expectations and they are aware of
the most rare and precious support they will find in your minds, one of
the leading minds of the century.
The Montenegrin never entertained a doubt of the outcome of the
struggle for Right now carried on by the Allies among whom so many of their
countrymen are voluntarily paying their mite of abnegation and heroism.
We are confidently waiting for the day when the American troops
whose mission, on that benevolence of which the Federal Republic has given
such courteous evidence in agreeing to the creation of the Montenegrin
mission in Washington.
Mr. President, I am sure I am voicing the sentiments of my Sovereign
and of all the people of Montenegro when I beg you to accept the very sincere
wishes I make for the victory of the Allies, the glory of the United States
and your personal happiness.
STATE DEPARTMENT FILE NO 701. 7311/32
REPLY OF PRESIDENT WILSON TO GENERAL A GVOZDENOVIC, ON THE OCCASION
OF HIS RECEPTION, SEPTEMBER 20, 1918
I am happy to accept the credential letters by which His Majesty,
the King of Montenegro, accredits you as envoy extraordinary and minister
plenipotentiary near the Government of the United States and to accord
you formal recognition in that high capacity.
For a number of years the Government of the United States has
had diplomatic representatives accredited to Montenegro, in consequence
of which it is appropriate that the existing government of Montenegro,
though forced to find a refuge on foreign soil, should send a diplomatic
representative to the United States Government.
The cruel hand of a most pitiless war has fallen heavily upon
your gallant country, so long among the bravest champions of the liberty
of its race.
With your brothers the Jugo-slavs, and your cousins the Czecho-Slovaks,
and with the Roumanians as well, you have suffered from the rapacity of
a heartless military organisation which knew only the attainment of material
ambition through the use of brute force. The Imperial Austro- Hungarian
Government, in league with the German military autocracy, from the very
outset of this fatal war, has brought a reign of terror to the door steps
and heart-stones of the smallest countries within its reach. Murder, rapine,
and pillage have left in their wake disrupted families, smouldering ruins
and bleeding hearts. Proud and patriotic peoples have been brought to the
verge of destruction, overcome by superior strength, and driven from their
countries. Such is the sad plight of Montenegro and its neighbours, who
have fallen victims to the desires of the German and Austrian Governments
to enlarge their territorial possessions, and to subject to their insidious
influence the peoples of different countries, in spite of the desire of
those peoples for distinct existence, and in the face of racial differences
which are incompatible with the purposes of those who direct the movements
of the German and Austrian Governments.
It is against these motives and ambitions, and against this centralized
and dominating military power that the United States Government, in its
sympathy for small nations, and in harmony with movements for racial independence
has assumed an aggressive attitude and is fighting for the preservation
of the rights of all nations fully determined to overcome the enemies of
justice and liberty.
As regards those Montenegrin to whom you refer, who have come
to live among us, and through whom the United States has become better
known o their fellow countrymen at home, we owe them a debt of gratitude
that they have contributed in no small measure, to the friendly relations
and mutual good feeling which so happily prevail, and which it is my sincere
hope will continue to prevail and increase day by day, fostered by your
Permit me to assure you the you may confidently rely on my efforts
and those of the officers of this Government to aid you with your most
cordial good will in the performance of your duties of your mission and
in the promotion of the common interests of the United States and Montenegro.
On 4th December 1918 when the rumours of a meeting of the Parliament
in Podgorica were beginning to circulate and it was suggested that the
King and Dynasty had been overthrown and urgent clarification was being
At 8:00pm that evening the United States Acting Secretary of
State (Polk) sent a telegram (873.00/29a) to the US Minister in Switzerland
Press reports originating in Vienna indicate that the King of
Montenegro has been deposed. That he is succeeded by the National Assembly,
meeting at Podgorica. The Montenegrin Minister (Gvozdenovi) has communicated
to the Department an official dispatch from his Government, stating that
such reports have no foundation whatsoever. Please investigate and report
The communication to which the Acting Secretary of State referred
was a hand delivered dispatch from The Montenegrin Minister a.i., received
just before 5:00pm and which contained a copy of a Cablegram from the Montenegrin
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs (Chotch).
General, Your telegram of 2nd December at hand. Report from
Germany that the National Assembly, assembled at Podgorica, deposed the
King and Dynasty and voted that Montenegro and Serbia be under the sceptre
of King Peter, is groundless.
The Acting Secretary noted that the Government adds Under the
Montenegrin Constitution the National Parliament, whose members are elected
by the people, has the sole right of making decisions with regard to the
sovereignty of the state and dynasty. From the constitutional stand point
the parliament is non-existent as many deputies are still confined in Austrian
jails and others are in allied or neutral countries. The parliament cannot
possibly be convened at present. Adversaries of Montenegro are endeavouring
to spread ill intended reports for the purpose of injuring the vital interests
of the country and paralyse its role at the peace conference.
On 7th December 1918 the State Department received a Manifesto
of the National Executive Committee of Montenegro, directed to the Government
of the United States [Entrusted by the Executive Committee to the Commanding
Officer, 2nd Battalion 332d Infantry, US Army, at Kotor, for delivery to
the representative of the United States at Paris]
The National Executive Committee of Montenegro, elected by the
Great National Assembly of the Serbian people in Montenegro in its sitting
of November 13/26, of this year, and invested with the Sovereign Power
of the People of Montenegro, begs to communicate to the Government of the
United States the two following resolutions adopted by the Great Serbian
National Assembly of Montenegro:
First, it was resolved at the sitting of the Great National
Assembly that: King Nicholas I Petrovic-Njegosh, King of Montenegro, and
his Dynasty are dethroned forever from the Throne of Montenegro and that
the Union of Montenegro and Serbia Under King Peter I Karadjordjevi is
Second it was resolved at the sitting of the Great National
Assembly that: all goods in Montenegro owned by ex-King Nicholas and by
his Dynasty are confiscated to the benefit of the Serbian people in Montenegro,
and finally ex-King Nicholas and his Dynasty are forbidden forever to enter
The Paris Peace Conference- Council of Ten
The Paris Peace Conference Volume IV pg. 207-211
Paris, 6th March 1919
Following Marshal Foch, General Gvozdenovic then read the following
Statement on behalf of the King of Montenegro.
Gentlemen, we consider it our duty to speak here, as we think
we are entitled to address you on behalf of Montenegro. Notwithstanding
the intrigues and wiles of our adversaries (who are also allies and brothers)
we are the only official, legal and legitimate Government of the Country.
Moreover, our existence is not denied by you, but rather clearly
recognised - seeing the Great Powers continue to accredit diplomatic representatives
to the Royal Government and that the Federal Republic of the United States
recently approved the creation of a Royal Legation in Washington.
As a legitimate Government recognised by the Allies, the Royal
Government considers that it has claims on your good will. Can you forget
that it was its Head who, from the very beginning, wished to fight side
by side with the Entente?
But, despite its heavy sacrifices and cruel sufferings during
the war, Montenegro is the only one of your Allies - and even of your enemies
- against whom the doors of the conference have been closed.
The Royal Government has not been asked to name a representative
for the seat reserved for it, because in your opinion the position of our
country required explanation.
May we be permitted to say that its position is neither obscure
nor confused? A perfidious propaganda has tried to make you believe that
our country as a whole wished to be absorbed by Serbia, and Serbia has
tried to do this by one audacious and forcible coup. But Montenegro opposed
this arbitrary annexation. She cried aloud despite the gag; her defenseless
hands smote the fresh oppressors armed with the weapons you had given them
against a common enemy. That is the outline of what occurred. However telling
it may be, permit us to add some details thereto.
The scheme of an official Serbia (which is only a part of the
Imperialistic dreams of certain politicians) has long been in preparation,
and in their haste since 1916 to carry them into effect gave rise to the
amazing Corfu Agreement [The text of the Corfu Agreement is printed by
HWV Temperley, A history of the Peace Conference of Paris, Vol v (London
1921) pg.393], which, without a single Montenegrin being consulted disposed
of Montenegro from July, 1917 onwards.
This agreement was not only opposed to the laws of every age
and country, but was also an insult to the high principles which the Allies
have made their own.
In France, where the Royal Government received hospitality, in
Italy, in England, in the whole of America, a fierce campaign was waged
against us, our deeds and our persons - a campaign so false and mean that
it stooped to any means of injuring us.
The word treason was repeatedly used. Without compunction King
Nicholas was reproached for asking for Peace in 1915 (in obedience, so
it was said, to certain secret engagements). We state clearly that this
rumour was the work of Serbian Agents. Such insults can be best answered
by an authentic document. From the beginning of the war, the King decided
to entrust command of the Montenegrin armies to Serbian Staff Officers;
their Chief, the Serbian Colonel Pechich, was the real Commander-in-chief
of our troops.
When Austrians advanced and the lack of food and ammunition made
it impossible for our soldiers to hold their positions, Colonel Pechich
proposed asking for an armistice. When the Supreme Austrian Command answered
this request with the utmost harshness and cruelty, Colonel Pechich advised
the King to make peace.
In our memorandum you will find the text of this letter, written
on 31st December 1915, (13th January 1916) and received by King Nicholas
the same day at 7:00am.
The two most important passages are:-
Sire, the Officers in Command of the Army on the Western Front
declare that our Army is so demoralised that the enemy can no longer be
Having shown you the true state of affairs in the army, I have
the honour to point out to Your Majesty that it is utterly impossible to
Cary on the struggle under such conditions, and that, without delay and
as quickly as possible we must (1) ask to make peace with the enemy, since
he would not accept the proposal for an armistice made two days ago by
the Royal Government.
Peace was asked for, or, to be more exact, King Nicholas resigned
himself to sue for it at the pressing request of his Government and of
the Serbia Colonel Peter Pechich. The reply of the Austrian Government
is well known, it was of such a nature that the Montenegrin Government
decided to break off negotiations, the King preferring exile to dishonour.
Serbia, in her desire to forget the part she had played in this
affair, has continually tried to distort the fact, to alter texts and destroy
all memory of the sacrifices and the heroism of Montenegro. She made unscrupulous
use of calumny in order to further the secret design which she was pursuing
and which events soon permitted her to bring about.
In October 1918, after the evacuation of Albania by Austrian
troops, the Eastern Army advanced towards Montenegro, and the Serbian troops
which formed part thereof rapidly poured over our territory. Our compatriots,
glad to meet men of their race, greeted them joyfully; their welcome however
met with no response.
The Serbs immediately assumed the attitude of conquerors, over
throwing established institutions and imposing their own authority by means
of intimidation and bribery. They were dealing with a starving population,
whose consciences it was not hard to corrupt.
The Serbian Government considered that the time had come for
the annexation it had premeditated. By means of bribery a number of persons
of all descriptions were suborned and persuaded to act as an artificial
Skupchina (Parliament). It will be remembered that at the very first
meeting, the illegal assembly at Podgorica, after making a pretence of
deliberation proclaimed the union of Montenegro with Serbia and the abolition
of the Dynasty.
Mere villages had been permitted to elect four deputies, while
entire districts had only sent one or two representatives. Out of fifty
of the Kings former Ministers, only two voted against him. Not a single
officer or priest voted for the abolition of the Dynasty. Out of the 56
Deputies elected by the people to the Parliament of 1914, only 5declared
against Nicholas I.
Events had developed too far and too rapidly. Such shameless
juggling with a regularly established Kingdom could not be accepted by
an intelligent population, proud of its history and traditions and conscious
of its individuality and need for liberty. Discontent rapidly developed
into indignation, which indignation manifested itself both against Serbian
troops and Montenegrins in the pay of Serbia.
In Paris, the Royal Government protested to the Allies against
the violence done to our country, against this contempt of all rights.
Our complaint has hitherto met with no response. The Serbs are still in
Montenegro, pursuing their aims by armed force. Martyrs fall each day;
but it has at any rate been proved before the whole world that the will
of Montenegro has not been freely manifested.
We most earnestly desire that our protests shall not be misinterpreted.
We will not permit Montenegro to become a Serbian province and ruled by
princes neither of her own choice nor her own royal line. It affords us
satisfaction to consider that our country has firmly resisted such brutal
and humiliating annexation. We are conscious, however, of all that we owe
to our race and our people. We will not set our faces against a confederation
of the Jugo-Slav countries, the States constituting which league would
retain full and complete autonomy. Thus it is evident that we are merely
claiming for Montenegro a right which is now recognised as legitimate for
all people - that of self-determination. If this right is to be exercised,
an end must be made to the rule of terror and despotism from which our
country has suffered so much. After investigation by you, the Serbians
must be asked to evacuate Montenegrin territory at once. Their gold and
their bayonets must affect us no longer.
Then the task which it has consoled us to think of during the
defeat and exile can be fulfilled; Montenegro can be restored, as we have
been solemnly and repeatedly promised by the great Allied statesmen, Mr.
Lloyd George, Mr. Poincare, Mr. Briand, Mr. Asquith, Mr. Orlando and Mr.
Wilson, the President of the United States, whose eloquent telegram, dated
July 1918, we here beg to record: -
I thank Your Majesty sincerely for the courteous greetings you
so kindly dispatched to me on July 4th, [Official US Bulletin, July 12,
1918, pg.6] which I value highly. I deeply sympathise with Your Majesty
in the calamity which has overtaken Montenegro by the invasion of ruthless
force. I trust that Your Majesty and the noble and heroic people of Montenegro
will not be cast down, but will have confidence in the determination of
the United States to see that in the final victory that will come, the
integrity and rights of Montenegro shall be secured and recognised.
The logical result of this restoration is the return to Montenegro
of its lawful Government, which would ensure the working of its constitution
and restore the Country to normal conditions. We venture to hope that you
will help us in this peaceful task.
Montenegro would then be free to express its aims, through the
Parliament provided by the Constitution, but for the present we can make
known to you its fair and moderate claims.....
The Meeting was then adjourned by M.Clemenceau.