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Serbia Challenges Montenegro Over Independence Vote

Prime Minister Kostunica (file photo) 16 June 2005 -- Montenegro accused Serbia of meddling in its affairs today in a dispute over a possible Montenegrin referendum on independence.

During a visit to Brussels, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica handed a list of 263,000 Montenegrins residing in Serbia to the European Union's top diplomat, Javier Solana. He said those people should have a say in any independence vote and said they are an important fact if a referendum takes place.

Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic immediately shot back that it won't let Belgrade tamper with its voter rolls. According to Montenegrin law, only the 450,000 voters residing in the republic are allowed to vote. Those living in Serbia would change the balance in Montenegro, where independence supporters may have a slight majority.

Vujanovic said he wrote to Serbian President Boris Tadic expecting that he would not support Kostunica's act. Serbia and Montenegro remain in an uneasy, dysfunctional alliance that replaced what remained of the old communist Yugoslavia in 2003.