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(E) officially, No MORE Yugoslavia
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/14/2002 | Politics | Unrated
(E) officially, No MORE Yugoslavia
      Serbia, Montenegro Sign Accord 
      Thu Mar 14, 9:39 AM ET 
      By ALEKSANDAR VASOVIC, Associated Press Writer 
      BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) - Serbia and Montenegro signed a historic accord 
      Thursday to radically restructure Yugoslavia, giving the federation a new 
      name and its republics greater autonomy to prevent the country's final 
      The agreement, reached under mediation by the European Union (news - web 
      sites), was signed by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica (news - web 
      sites), Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, EU foreign policy chief 
      Javier Solana and other Serbian and Montenegrin officials. 
      The new country, consisting of two semi-independent states, will be 
      renamed Serbia and Montenegro, Kostunica said after the signing ceremony. 
      Both republics will share a defense and foreign policy, but will maintain 
      separate economies, currencies and customs services for the time being. 
      "This document sets the shape of completely new relations between the 
      states of Serbia and Montenegro," Kostunica said. "This step means a break 
      with the previous regime" of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic 
      (news - web sites). 
      "Amid the threat of disintegration in the Balkans, we are moving toward 
      integration and peace and stability in the region," he said. 
      Yugoslavia first was formed in 1918 as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and 
      Slovenes, and Montenegro gave up its statehood to join. The country was 
      occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, then tightly controlled 
      under the communist regime of Marshal Tito for four decades after the war. 
      Yugoslavia began to unravel along ethnic lines during Milosevic's reign. 
      Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina all declared their 
      independence by 1992. 
      Serbia and Montenegro stayed together when the other republics started 
      leaving Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. But their alliance began to crumble 
      in 1997 when Djukanovic distanced himself from Milosevic and began 
      advocating independence for Montenegro. 
      Kostunica said the political accord calls for new federal elections in the 
      autumn, and that the parliaments of both republics as well as the federal 
      Yugoslav parliament would set to work on constitutional changes. The 
      country's new name will not take effect until lawmakers in all three 
      chambers ratify the accord. 
      Solana praised the agreement, saying Montenegro and Serbia "should have no 
      doubt" about the EU's support. 
      "This is an important day and a step toward the stability in the region 
      and in Europe," Solana said. "This is not the end of anything, but a 
      beginning of a new chapter that will bring you closer to the European 
      Djukanovic, who is likely to face an avalanche of criticism in Montenegro 
      for giving up a planned independence referendum for the small republic 
      this spring, said he expected Serbs and Montenegrins to "have a positive 
      approach toward this agreement" and predicted it would win parliamentary 
      The tiny Adriatic republic continued its independence drive even after 
      Milosevic's ouster in 2000. Milosevic is now on trial before the U.N. war 
      crimes tribunal in The Hague (news - web sites), Netherlands, for 
      atrocities his forces committed in the Balkans in the 1990s. 
      Branko Ruzic, the spokesman for Milosevic's Socialist Party, called the 
      event "the most shameful date in the history of the Serbs." 
      "We went to bed in one state, and we woke up in another," Ruzic said, 
      adding that the Socialists are for "preserving the current Yugoslavia." 
      Montenegro's 650,000 people remain bitterly divided on whether to remain 
      in a federation with Serbia, whose approximately 10 million people 
      effectively determine Yugoslav affairs. 
      A draft of the agreement, obtained by The Associated Press, said that 
      after three years, "the member states will be entitled to institute 
      proceedings for a change of the state status, that is, withdrawal from the 
      state union." 
      The pro-Serbian faction in Montenegro praised the agreement. 
      "The dangerous divisions in Montenegro were averted. Djukanovic stopped on 
      the brink, and we approve of this," said Dragan Soc, the leader of the 
      Montenegrin Peoples' Party. 
      Kostunica said his office as federal president would remain and that the 
      new country would have one seat in the United Nations (news - web sites), 
      just as Yugoslavia does now, although Montenegrin and Serbian officials 
      would rotate as envoys to U.N. headquarters in New York. 
      The accord was a major policy victory for the West, which has opposed 
      Montenegrin secession, fearing the breakup could encourage other 
      independence-minded groups in the region — in particular, ethnic Albanians 
      in Kosovo and Macedonia. 
      Arguing that secession also would hurt Montenegro's economy and slow down 
      the process of integrating it into mainstream Europe, the EU has been 
      pushing for a new Yugoslav constitution that would preserve a joint state 
      while granting the two republics greater self-governance. 
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