Monday, May 22, 2006

Independence for Montenegro

Yugoslavia was a federation of six republics, four of which became separate independent countries in the early 1990's: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Macedonia. That left only Serbia and Montenegro, which in 2003 changed the name of the country to Serbia and Montenegro. However, the people of Montenegro (or Crna Gora, pronounced "chur-nuh gora," in Montenegrin) voted on Sunday on the question of independence. Preliminary results indicate that slightly more than the 55% required to pass the referendum said yes to separation from Serbia.

The people of Montenegro hope to be able to join the European Union more quickly by distancing themselves from the emotional scars of the violent conflicts that erupted in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990's, including ethnic cleansing and outright genocide. President Slobodan Milošević and many others sought to create a "Greater Serbia," but the status of Serbia has fallen from the heart of Yugoslavia to a land-locked country with two of its own provinces (Vojvodina and Kosovo) already autonomous and agitating for even greater independence from the Serbian national government. Rightly or wrongly, the people of Montenegro are associated with violence mostly to the degree they are associated with Serbia, although Montenegrin leaders (current Prime Minister Milo Đukanović and others) stood with Milošević during the time of the atrocities. We can only hope that Montenegro's separation from Serbia will be more peaceful than the separation of the other four republics.

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