EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
It is time for new policies and new approaches on Montenegro. International
engagement with that republic in recent years has brought significant positive
results. It bolstered the pro-Western government of Djukanovic when it faced
the threat from Milosevic. It has helped promote reforms that have set Montenegro on the way to becoming
a modern democracy, with a market economy and an independent, effective criminal
justice system. However, efforts to promote regional stability have been
hampered by an unnecessary obsession with keeping Montenegro and Serbia in a single state. The
international community's overriding interest in the region should be to find
stable, long-term solutions. Cobbling together interim solutions that lack
legitimacy for those who must implement them and that are unlikely, therefore,
to be functional in practice, is not the way to build stability.
The formation of a new state union of Serbia and Montenegro, following the March
2002 Belgrade Agreement, has failed to resolve the future relationship of the two republics. The
tortuous negotiations that eventually produced the new union's Constitutional Charter demonstrated the
lack of common purpose or consensus. Throughout the negotiations, from November 2001 until December
2002, only heavy engagement and pressure from the European Union (EU) kept the process on track.
The agreement on a new union takes no account of the status of Kosovo, notionally
still an autonomous province of Serbia, but in practice a UN protectorate. As long as Kosovo's future
remains unresolved, the territory and the constitutional make-up of Serbia, and of the joint state of
Serbia and Montenegro, remain undefined. The agreement between Serbia and Montenegro only partially
addresses the future of the defunct Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and does not represent a stable
solution for the territories of the former state.
The EU's determination to press Montenegro into retaining the joint state was
largely driven by its fear that early Montenegrin independence would force an unready international
community to address Kosovo's status prematurely. Consequently the EU and the wider international
community have opted for interim, inherently unstable solutions for Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo
alike, rather than tackling the causes of instability.
The international community should no longer oppose Montenegrin independence but
should instead be ready to support whatever solution Montenegro and Serbia can agree upon for
their future relationship. It, and the EU in particular, should be ready to assist those two
republics to work out a satisfactory arrangement, while adopting a neutral stance on what the form
of that relationship is to be.
A major focus of international policy should be to promote needed reforms.
Already, considerable resources have been devoted to this end, and they have brought good results.
However, the negative attitude of much of the international community towards Montenegro, as an
alleged haven of organised crime, has led to a distorted approach in which the prevalence of
organised crime is sometimes linked to the status issue.
Organised crime and corruption are indeed problems in Montenegro, as elsewhere in
the region. Some steps have been taken, although concerns remain about the degree of commitment
Montenegrin authorities demonstrate when the allegations that need to be investigated relate to
senior officials. The focus should be on helping, and when necessary pressing Montenegro, as well as
other entities in the region, to show greater zeal in carrying out reforms and in tackling organised
crime and corruption.
Particular stress should be placed on reform of the criminal justice system,
especially to end political interference. Assessments of progress should be based above all on
concrete results. In particular, any suspicion that some figures are above the law, due to their
high connections, and that sensitive cases are covered up should be dispelled.
Strict conditionality should be applied on assistance to Montenegro, based on
performance. Assessments of reform programs need to go beyond ticking off legislation adopted and
focus on implementation. In particular, the international community should insist upon effective
measures to tackle corruption. Where there is not adequate evidence of action, assistance programs
should be shut down. Credit should be given where it is due, and pressure should be applied where
progress is lacking, but no assessment should be influenced by a desire to influence Montenegro
on the status issue.
Given its budgetary problems, the Montenegrin government depends on international
assistance. Until now the leverage that fact of political life implies has largely been used in the
ill-conceived effort to keep the republic in a union with Serbia. Instead, it should be used to force
real change in the way that Montenegro is governed.
To the international community, in particular the European Union:
1. The EU should discontinue its policy of pressuring Montenegro to remain in a
single-state union with Serbia and accept whatever solutions Serbia and Montenegro can agree upon for
their future relationship, including the possibility of eventual separation.
2. The EU should be ready to provide impartial technical assistance to Serbia and
Montenegro on the practical issues that need to be resolved whatever the form of their ultimate
3. The EU should not sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with
Serbia and Montenegro before the status of the third entity of the now defunct FRY, Kosovo, has been
4. The international community should continue to provide assistance to
Montenegro's reform efforts, strictly conditioned on the government's performance in carrying out
reforms, and should be prepared to suspend or withdraw assistance if progress is not satisfactory.
5. The international community's assessment of reform progress should be based
on concrete evidence of changes in practice, including clear indications that investigations of
corruption and organised crime activities are thoroughly pursued, no matter where the investigations
lead or whom they involve.
To Serbia and Montenegro:
6. Concentrate on resolving the concrete issues involved in the future relationship,
and in particular work constructively to integrate and harmonise economies, in line with the 14 March
2002 Belgrade Agreement and the Constitutional Charter.
7. Accelerate reforms in order to regain momentum lost in 2002, in particular by:
(a) increasing the pace of reform of the finance ministry, and especially of
(b) reinvigorating efforts to combat the grey economy;
(c) continuing reforms of the judiciary and police, including ending
politicisation of the criminal justice system;
(d) pursuing all cases involving serious criminal allegations thoroughly, without
political interference, wherever they lead and whomever they implicate; and
(e) raising the salaries of senior officials to more realistic levels while at
the same time ending the system of offering perks, such as free housing, to certain officials.
Podgorica/Brussels, 16 April 2003