Montenegro declares independence from Serbia

Jelena Filipovic jelenaf at sezampro.yu
Tue May 23 09:19:48 UTC 2006

An answer to your question: the majority of the population of Montenegro are 
Slavs and orthodox (in terms of religious practices). For centuries, 
however, a dispute has been present over whether they are Montenegrins or 
Serbs, and now a part of them consider themselves Montenegrins (and are also 
working toward the creation of an official Montenegrin language), while the 
other part name themselves Serbs from Montenegro (as you might imagine, 
those are the 45% who voted against the independence). These two groups make 
about 2/3 of the total population. The rest are Albanians, Muslims, as they 
call themselves in line with the Tito's division of nations and 
nationalities (according to which, Muslims were among the nations of the 
Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia), Croats, etc.

I hope this helps.
Sincerely, Jelena Filipovic

Jelena Filipovic, Ph.D.
Associate professor of Spanish and Sociolinguistics
Departments of Iberian Studies and General Linguistics
School of Philology - University of Belgrade
Studentski trg 3
11000 Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro
phone: +381112638622/ext. 123
e-mail: jelenaf at sezampro.yu

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Harold F. Schiffman" <haroldfs at>
To: "Language Policy-List" <lgpolicy-list at>
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2006 7:06 PM
Subject: Montenegro declares independence from Serbia

> >From the NYTimes, May 22, 2006
> [Moderator's note:  this article states that "At least a third of
> Montenegro's 650,000 people are Serbs"  My question is, what is the
> ethnicity of the other 2/3rds? (hs)]
> May 22, 2006
> Montenegrins Elect to End Union with Serbia
> PODGORICA, Montenegro, Monday, May 22 By the narrowest of margins, voters
> in Montenegro, one of the original six pieces of communist-era Yugoslavia,
> chose to cut their ties with neighboring Serbia, according to results
> released today from Sunday's referendum. The vote means that 15 years
> after inter-ethnic conflict broke out tearing the western Balkans apart,
> one of the last steps in its final stabilization appears to be taking
> place. With the results confirmed by all but 49 of the 1,100 polling
> stations, the state's election commission said today that the referendum
> was carried with 55.4% of voters favoring independence, just barely over
> the 55 percent required by rules agreed to by the government and the
> European Union.
> The government was expected push quickly for a meeting of Montenegro's
> parliament that is required before the referendum can become law.
> Two-thirds of the assembly need to the support the proposal in order to
> the change the constitution, which government officials believe will be a
> formality unless opponents of secession choose to dispute the referendum
> results. Montenegro would then be able to seek international recognition
> and a seat at the United Nations and other international institutions.
> While the victory of the pro-independence block has left a large swathe of
> the Montenegro's citizens feeling despondent, the separation ends what for
> many years has been an unhappy union. Since 1997, Montenegro's Prime
> Minister, Milo Djukanovic, has distanced this small mountainous nation
> from Serbia. The two now share control of the army and foreign service,
> and little else.
> In Serbia there was a reluctant acceptance that Mr. Djukanovic's
> supporters had succeeded, although some media outlets suggested that
> referendum had not been fought on equal terms. "Milo's majority is
> questionable," ran the headline in Serbia's conservative daily paper
> Politika. "One can conclude that the sovereigntists won, but no one can
> not tell by how many votes," Aleksandar Simic, adviser to Serbia's Prime
> Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, was quoted as saying by the paper. Serbia
> could if it chose to, make Montenegro's separation more complicated by
> disputing issues such as debt, and federally owned property.
> "The risk is they could do it out of spite," said one western diplomat in
> Podgorica to monitor the referendum. A mechanism already exists, dating
> back from 1998 when the four previous break away republics, Slovenia,
> Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia, negotiated issues left over by the Yugoslav
> breakup. Most international officials doubt that will happen, though. "It
> would be a bit like flogging a dead horse. I think they are going to move
> on now. They have enough problems with other issues," said the same
> official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to
> make public statements.
> Late Sunday night, unofficial results had led thousands of independence
> supporters to take to the streets, waving flags and signs. Fireworks and
> celebratory gunfire could be heard across the capital. The initial partial
> results gave the secessionist block a greater margin of victory, at 56.3
> percent, but as the evening wore on that figure was gradually reduced and
> some of the celebrations became more muted. In the euphoria, Mr.
> Djukanovic sought to unite Montenegrins after what had been a divisive
> campaign. "We have the right to celebrate in a dignified manner," he told
> a victory rally outside the main government building in Podgorica. But he
> said that nobody should be seen as winners after the vote. "This should be
> a comfortable home for everybody who lives in Montenegro," he said. The
> leader of the pro-union opposition, Pedgrad Bulatovic, contested
> suggestions that the government had won, saying it was too early to draw a
> final conclusion about the vote.
> Groups of young Serbian men gathered outside Mr. Bulatovic's headquarters
> in the city center, jeering as the referendum results were announced.
> "They are lying, lying, lying," they chanted, hurling abuse when
> pro-independence supporters drove by waving the Montenegrin flag. At least
> a third of Montenegro's 650,000 people are Serbs. But Mr. Lipka said today
> that there had been no official complaints filed to contest the results,
> and European monitors called the voting free and fair. The European
> Union's foreign policy chief, Javiar Solana, declared that he welcomed the
> "successful" independence vote and that the election's results would be
> respected.
> Montenegro's secession would end what has become an increasingly fractious
> federation with Serbia, kept together by pressure from the European Union.
> Since 1997, Montenegro has sought to distance itself from the federal
> government in Belgrade, creating its own customs regime and paramilitary
> police. It has also dropped the Yugoslav currency, the dinar, and adopted
> the euro. While diplomats and analysts here said the referendum would
> finally establish a clearer relationship between Serbia and Montenegro,
> the "yes"  vote is also viewed as a personal blow to Serbia's nationalist
> prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, at a critical time.
> "Psychologically it is important for Serbia to stop the process of
> everybody seceding from Serbia," said Bratislav Grubacic, a political
> analyst and director of the VIP independent news agency, based in
> Belgrade. "This weakens Kostunica's position on Kosovo," he said,
> referring to the United Nations-run region that is still formally a
> province of Serbia, but that is thought likely by international officials
> to gain independence by the end of the year. For supporters of Montenegrin
> independence, the results, however narrow, are the fruition of a
> decade-long struggle to enable Montenegro to reclaim its status from 1878
> to 1918, when it was a republic and an internationally recognized state.
> "This is a great day for the citizens of Montenegro to regain independence
> after 88 years," said Ljubomir Djurkovic, a theater director from
> Centinje, a picturesque, pro-independence town to the west of Podgorica.
> He said he planned mark the occasion by visiting the graves of his father
> and grandfather men who spent their lives hoping for an independent state,
> he said, but who did not live to see it.

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