Serbia and Montenegro (08/99) (See Yugoslavia)
For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.
(Serbia and Montenegro have asserted the formation of a joint independent state, but this entity
People (July 1998 est.)
For more than 3 centuries--nearly 370 years--the Serbs lived as virtual slaves of the Ottoman sultans. As a result of this great oppression, Serbs began to migrate out of their native land (present-day Kosovo and southern Serbia) into other areas within the Balkan Peninsula, including what is now Vojvodina and Croatia. When the Austrian Hapsburg armies pushed the Ottoman Turks south of the Danube in 1699, many Serbs were "liberated" but their native land was still under Ottoman rule.
Movements for Serbian independence began more than 100 years later with uprisings under the Serbian patriots Karageorge (1804-13) and Milos Obrenovic (1815-17). After the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29, Serbia became an internationally recognized principality under Turkish suzerainty and Russian protection, and the state expanded steadily southward. After an insurrection in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1875, Serbia and Montenegro went to war against Turkey in 1876-78 in support of the Bosnian rebels. With Russian assistance, Serbs gained more territory as well as formal independence in 1878, though Bosnia was placed under Austrian administration.
In 1908, Austria-Hungary directly annexed Bosnia, inciting the Serbs to seek the aid of Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece in seizing the last Ottoman-ruled lands in Europe. In the ensuing Balkan Wars of 1912-13, Serbia obtained northern and central Macedonia, but Austria compelled it to yield Albanian lands that would have given it access to the sea. Serb animosity against the Hapsburgs reached a climax on June 28, 1914, when the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip--the spark that lit the powder keg of World War I.
Soon after the war began, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces occupied Serbia. Upon the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the war's end in 1918, Vojvodina and Montenegro united with Serbia, and former south Slav subjects of the Hapsburgs sought the protection of the Serbian crown within a kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Serbia was the dominant partner in this state, which in 1929 adopted the name Yugoslavia.
The kingdom soon encountered resistance when Croatians began to resent control from Belgrade. This pressure prompted King Alexander I to split the traditional regions into nine administrative provinces. During World War II, Yugoslavia was divided between the Axis powers and their allies. Royal army soldiers, calling themselves Cetnici (Chetniks), formed a Serbian resistance movement, but a more determined communist resistance under the Partisans, with Soviet and Anglo-American help, liberated all of Yugoslavia by 1944. In an effort to avoid the Serbian domination during the post years, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro were given separate and equal republican status within the new socialist federation of Yugoslavia; Kosovo and Vojvodina were made autonomous provinces within Yugoslavia.
Despite the attempts at a federal system of government for Yugoslavia, Serbian communists played the leading role in Yugoslavia's political life for the next 4 decades. As the Germans were defeated at the end of World War II, Josip Broz Tito, a former Bolshevik and devout communist, began to garner support from both within Yugoslavia as well as from the Allies. Yugoslavia remained independent of the U.S.S.R., as Tito broke with Stalin and asserted Yugoslav independence. Tito went on to control Yugoslavia for 35 years. Under communist rule, Serbia was transformed from an agrarian to an industrial society. In the 1980s, however, Yugoslavia's economy began to fail. With the death of Tito, separatist and nationalist tensions emerged in Yugoslavia. In 1989, riding a wave of nationalist sentiment, Serbia's leadership reimposed direct rule over the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, prompting Albanians in Kosovo to agitate for separation from the Republic. Between 1991 and 1992, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia all seceded from Yugoslavia. On April 27, 1992 in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro joined in passing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
During World War I, Montenegro fought on the side of the Allies but was defeated and occupied by Austria. Upon Austrian occupation, the Montenegrin king, King Nikola I, and his family fled to Italy. Consequently, the Serbian king, Petar Karadjordjevic, was able to exploit the chaotic conditions in Montenegro at the war's end, paving the way for the violent and unwanted Serbian annexation of Montenegro. Montenegro was the only Allied country in World War I to be annexed to another country at the end of the war. The majority of the Montenegrin population opposed the annexation and on January 7, 1919, staged a national uprising -- known to history as the Christmas Uprising -- against the Serbian annexation. The uprising became a war between Serbia and the Montenegrins that lasted until 1926. Many Montenegrins lost their lives, and though many hoped for an intervention by the Great Powers to protect their sovereignty, none came and Montenegro was effectively absorbed into the new kingdom of Yugoslavia.
When Yugoslavia was invaded and partitioned by the Axis powers in April 1941, Montenegro was appropriated by the Italians under a nominally autonomous administration. This caused a great divide within the Montenegrin population. Many nationalists who had been frustrated with the experience of Yugoslav unification supported the Italian administration. Also, there were advocates of the union with Serbia who began armed resistance movements as well as many communists who, by nature of their political beliefs, were opposed to the Italian presence. As war progressed, the local strength of the communists grew and Montenegro served as an effective base for communism in the region; it was an important refuge for Tito's Partisan forces during the most difficult points in the struggle. After the war, the communist strategy of attempting to unify Yugoslavia through a federal structure elevated Montenegro to the status of a republic, thus securing Montenegrin loyalty to the federation.
The breakup of the Yugoslav federation after 1989 left Montenegro in a precarious position. The first multiparty elections in 1990 showed much public support for the League of Communists, confirming Montenegrin support for the federation. Montenegro joined Serbian efforts to preserve the federation in the form of a "Third Yugoslavia" in 1992. Though Montenegro reaffirmed its political attachment to Serbia, a sense of a distinct Montenegrin identity continued to thrive. Outspoken criticism of Serbian conduct of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina added to the continuing strength of Montenegrin distinctiveness. Recently, both the people and the government of Montenegro have been critical of Slobodon Milosevic's campaign in Kosovo.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
In late 1998, Milosevic unleashed a brutal police and military campaign against separatist insurgents in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo. Milosevic's campaign and failure to capitulate to resolutions agreed upon in the Rambouillet Accords provoked a military response from NATO which consisted primarily of aerial bombing and lasted from late March 1999 through late June 1999. For the duration of Milosevic's campaign, enormous masses of ethnic Albanians were either displaced from their homes in Kosovo or killed by Serbian troops or police. Both Milosevic's and NATO's campaigns have stopped, and negotiations within the European community for a lasting peace in the region are in progress. The United States would like to see a democratic Serbia emerge from its isolation and rejoin European and international institutions, something that will only be possible once Milosevic is removed from power. The U.S. also is calling for Milosevic and other high-ranking Serbian officials to be tried as war criminals at The Hague.
At the outbreak of the war in Yugoslavia, the U.S. and most West European countries broke relations with the F.R.Y, and the U.S. embassy is now closed. The F.R.Y. must reapply for membership, as did the other four former Yugoslav republics, in the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international organizations and financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
In addition to remaining barred from membership in international organizations, the F.R.Y. is still subject to an "outer wall" of sanctions maintained by the United States and the international community until it makes substantial progress on five core issues: a Kosovo settlement, cooperation in implementing the Dayton Peace Accords, cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, progress on democratization in the F.R.Y., and resolution of the Yugoslav state succession issues.
Montenegro continued to be the only bright spot in the F.R.Y. in 1998, although Milosevic's influence threatened to complicate Montenegro's efforts at democratization. In January 1998, Milo Djukanovic became Montenegro's President, following bitterly contested elections in November 1997, which had been adjudged by international monitors to have been free and fair. His reform coalition followed up with parliamentary elections in May. President Djukanovic continues to implement democratic and economic reforms, while weathering a relentless campaign by Milosevic to undermine his government.
There are 40 seats in the Chamber of Republics, 20 of which are Serbian and 20 of which are Montenegrin. Members serve 4-year terms, and seats are distributed on the basis of party representation to reflect the composition of the legislatures of the republics of Montenegro and Serbia. There are 138 seats in the Chamber of Citizens, 108 of which are Serbian with half elected by constituency majorities and half by proportional representation. Of the 30 Macedonian seats, six are elected by constituency and 24 are elected proportionally. Members serve 4-year terms.
The last election for the Chamber of Republics was held on December 24, 1996. The last election for the Chamber of Citizens was held 3 November 1996. The distribution of seats by party is: SPS/JUL/ND 64, Zajedno (a coalition of SPO, DS, and GSS) 22, DPSCG 20, SRS 16, NS 8, SVM 3, other 5.
Principal Government Officials
The F.R.Y.'s monetary unit, the dinar, remained volatile, falling from 4.6 dinars to the DM in December 1997 to a temporary low of 9.5 dinars per DM in December 1998. Alarmed, F.R.Y. officials took several steps to tighten monetary policy, including ruling out a devaluation in the near term, increasing reserve requirements, and issuing bonds. As 1999 began, the damage control operation had succeeded in returning the rate to 8.5 dinars per DM, but no later data regarding its value has been available.
Substantial economic reform was not pushed in 1998, nor is it anticipated. The law on privatization, which went into effect on October 31, 1997, was largely undersubscribed during its first year. Not a single company was privatized under the new law in 1998. Toward the end of the year, government sources stated that 100 firms had begun the process and that at least 1,000 were having their "capital" evaluated. Meanwhile, polls showed that workers and managers in 300 firms lacked any enthusiasm for privatization. Managers tend to blame the dearth of interest on the current negative business climate in the F.R.Y. The Kragujevac-based "Zastava" automobile plant--heavily damaged during the recent NATO bombing--remains the most publicly discussed large privatization candidate.
Foreign investment remains modest, hampered in part by the Kosovo-related sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union (EU). Media reports featured F.R.Y. Government attempts to lure foreign investment into Serbia, prompting government spokesmen to portray such efforts as victories, regardless of the results. The Director of the coal sector of Serbia's power company (EPS) announced talks with the German firm Krupp on possible investment in the mines and a DM 150-million deal for coal mining equipment. The largest coal deposits are in Kosovo.
International sanctions continue to hobble the economy. The General Director of Yugoslav Airlines (JAT) announced publicly that losses directly attributable to the EU flight ban had exceeded $35 million in 1998 and that indirect losses were in the hundreds of millions of dollars. According to JAT officials, the losses have prompted the airline to shift some operations to Macedonia.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials