Friday, May 19, 2006

The referendum in Montenegro

I mentioned this vote some time ago in connection with Quebec secession but I caught a lengthy Financial Times article on the May 21 referendum itself when it popped up on Google News. A couple of interesting tidbits:
  • The 55% requirement with a 50% turnout was Javier Solana's idea, the same guy who thought leaving Serbia and Montenegro together was a good idea in the first place to the extent that the combined entities was nicknamed "Solania". Hmmm...
  • The Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, points out that while Serbia remains joined to any other part of former Yugoslavia, the dream of "Greater Serbia" remains alive in the minds of the extreme Serbs - the fact that Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić remain at large shows there's still quite a few of them.
  • Montenegro is already using the euro as its currency unlike EU member Slovenia, although this is not altogether unsurprising since the D-mark was the unofficial currency of Yugoslavia in the way the US dollar is in other developing economies, and the UN authorities in neighbouring Kosovo used D-marks and later Euros in their administration.
The piece opens by describing the airlifting of a Serbian church onto the summit of a Montenegrin hill with links to all the local religions traditions in a way not entirely unlike Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The church is seen by non-Serb Orthodox believers as an annexation. One local Serb hardliner is quoted later in the piece:
Srdja Trifkovic, a prolific Serb-nationalist pundit based in the US who attended the consecration on Mount Rumija, noted in an internet posting after the event: 'A thousand of us up there on that mountain can deal with a million Oprah-watching Big Mac eaters any time.'
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