|Author (Person)||Taylor, Simon|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol 7, No.17, 26.4.01, p4|
The EU has warned Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic not to hold a referendum on his country leaving Yugoslavia despite the victory of the pro-independence alliance in this week's elections.
A senior Swedish foreign ministry official told Djukanovic during a visit to the republic this week that the narrow victory by parties in favour of a referendum did not justify putting the issue to a vote.
Sven-Olof Petersson, who led a high-level EU delegation to Podgorica, said: "The elections have shown very clearly that Montenegrin society is almost evenly divided about its future.
"Political leaders in Podgorica - and in Belgrade - have a duty to take account of that fact."
The EU is concerned that attempts to win independence by Montenegro, which forms part of the rump Yugoslav Federation with Serbia, could revive Serbian nationalist sentiment and destabilise the new pro-western government in Belgrade. A referendum could also stoke demands by ethnic Albanians for independence for Kosovo, it is feared.
The Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana this week warned that "unilateral steps" by the Montenegrins could "undermine stability in the region". He urged Podgorica to hold "serious talks" with the Serbian government about their future relationship and constitutional arrangements.
That view was echoed by EU diplomats, who argue that any change in the status of Montenegro within the Yugoslav Federation should be negotiated with Belgrade because independence movements are seen as a threat to efforts to promote peaceful inter-ethnic relations. "It's important for regional stability to show that you can work together.
"[If there was a referendum] they would be giving the wrong signal to the region where we want to show that we can solve things through negotiation," said one.
A referendum on independence could directly undermine efforts to meet the demands of ethnic Albanians in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). "We would not make it easier for the government in FYROM if we gave in to Montenegro," the diplomat added.
Djukanovic's pro-referendum alliance, which is dominated by his Democratic Party of Socialists., won a narrow margin in this week's elections in the tiny republic.
The EU has warned Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic not to hold a referendum on his country leaving Yugoslavia despite the victory of the pro-independence alliance in the recent elections.
|Countries / Regions||Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia|