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Vlada Crne Gore

In view of the importance that the democratic Montenegro attaches to cooperation with the European Union and the international community as a whole, as well as their role in the reform and democratization process in Montenegro, in the spirit of a full commitment of the policy of Montenegro to dialogue with Serbia on our future relationship, we believe that it is very important to inform you in brief of the content and the result of the talks that the President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, and Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic held on October 26, 2001 in Belgrade with the President of FRY, Vojislav Kostunica , the Prime Minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic and Miroljub, Labus, Deputy Premier of the Federal Government, which Montenegro does not recognize.

The Montenegrin side accepted the talks with above participants despite the fact that it  does not recognize the Federal Government convinced that all the above representatives from Serbia have the legitimacy to talk of the relations with Montenegro derived from the will of a majority of the citizens of Serbia as expressed at the election held in September last year and not from any formal office held in the federal administration. The discussion began with the suggestion made by Mr. Kostunica  that Mr. Labus, on behalf of the federal administration, should propose a procedure and a roadmap. He suggested discussion on reshaping the federation, implying an agreement on this basis, as well as determining a timetable for federal elections and for the enactment of a new federal constitution. He resolutely expressed the position that, unless Montenegro's representatives are willing to accept the above procedure, it should be stated that there is no agreement and therefore immediate talks should start on activities within Montenegro conducive to a referendum on its constitutional status. He underlined that all activities, be it federal elections or the referendum in Montenegro, should take place by end of March next year, given that this deadline is determined by the IMF stand-by arrangement. 

The suggestion of the highest representatives of Montenegro that the Montenegro's Government initiative  of last December proposing a Union of independent and internationally recognized states of Montenegro and Serbia be given equal consideration was not accepted.

The explanation of Mr. Kostunica, which met with an agreement by Mr. Djindjic and Mr. Labus, was that at this juncture Serbia is not interested in an idea of a Union of independent states and that it cannot be addressed until after Montenegro has achieved its independence in the referendum. President Djukanovic expressed regret over such an approach, stressing that in his view, the idea of a union, as an idea of  a European-style integration involving not only Montenegro and Serbia, but also other countries in the region, will be of an equal interest, but that at this very moment, as we seek to resolve the problems in the Montenegro-|Serbia relationship it would have a far greater importance for the body politic of our two states than after the referendum is held in Montenegro. Prime Minister Vujanovic recalled the agreements made at previous meetings of the senior representatives of Montenegro and Serbia held early this year with the participation of President Kostunica, and in particular the content of a letter of September 19, in which Mr. Kostunica proposed a procedure for conducting talks, envisaging that the platform of the Government of Montenegro should have in every respect an equal treatment to that accorded to the platform proposed by the Government of Serbia and the illegitimate Federal Government. He also recalled that the Montenegrin side, in a letter by Mr. Djukanovic and Mr. Vujanovic, expressed agreement with that procedure and that the Prime Minister of Montenegro to this end sent Mr. Kostunica and Mr. Djindjic, prior to this time, a comparative analysis of the two platforms, that they have failed to respond to. 

After these suggestions and after this recalling by the representatives of Montenegro, Mr. Kostunica reiterated his negative position on the proposal to discuss the idea of a union of independent and internationally recognized states of Montenegro and Serbia, with an explanation that the arguments of both one and of the other side are well known to the participants in the talks, as well as the general public, and that, therefore, this meeting should be devoted to discussion of a possibility of reshaping federation, or else it should be recognized that there is no agreement on the issue and that a referendum in Montenegro needs to be organized as early as possible..

After an exchange of views that took several hours, it was commonly agreed, in a correct fashion, that there is no rapprochement between the views of the two delegations. The discussion proceeded on some aspects relating to the organization of referendum in Montenegro, with Mr. Kostunica and Labus insisting that it should take place at an earliest date. The Montenegrin side was shown the report by the Venice Commission of the EU Parliamentary Assembly and an exchange of views on this followed.  Mr. Labus said that there are no conditions for stating that the Yugoslav federation has ceased to exist through an agreement of Montenegro and Serbia following the Czechoslovakian model, explaining that this is due to the problem of Kosovo and a possible domino effect. The Montenegrin representatives presented their arguments and underlined that they find such assessments unacceptable.

With a common agreement that the organization of a referendum is an internal issue for Montenegro to resolve, the two sides have agreed that it should take place sooner rather than later, under politically stable conditions and with a maximum effort by the government at achieving a political consensus of all the political forces in Montenegro.

Therefore, the course and the content of the talks were throughout dictated by the representatives of the authorities in Belgrade, who continued to insist that there should be no opening of discussion on the Montenegro's initiative for a Union of independent, internationally recognized states of Montenegro and Serbia. Some subsequent interpretations of the talks by some participants from Belgrade in contacts with diplomats of countries of the European Union, such as disinformation that Montenegro did not accept international personality for both Montenegro and for Serbia, with a single economic area we consider arbitrary and even malicious.

Podgorica, 01. November 2001.

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