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Yugoslavia: Serbia, Montenegro Agree On New Union

Belgrade, 14 March 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Serbia and Montenegro have signed an agreement to restructure Yugoslavia as a new country. The agreement gives the two republics greater autonomy and a new name: "Serbia and Montenegro."

The agreement, reached under mediation by the European Union, was signed today by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, as well as other Serbian and Montenegrin officials.

The EU's Solana hailed it as "a very important day," adding, "It is a day in which we have together taken an important step forward for the stability of the region and for the stability of Europe."

Kostunica said the new country will be neither a confederation nor a loose federation, but will "represent a new, original solution."

"The document that was adopted...represents the basic principles of the redefinition of relations between Serbia and Montenegro and it is a political agreement which was signed by all participants in the talks and represents a framework of future relations between the two republics and also represents common principles and the shape of future, completely new relations between Serbia and Montenegro," Kostunica said. He also said he wanted to "emphasize the discontinuity with the previous regime."

Kostunica added: "It is a new beginning, expressed in the very name of the state, which is born by its constituent parts, by the nations of Serbia and Montenegro. And let me say in conclusion, that at a time when Europe is integrating and when the Balkans are threatened with disintegration, Serbia and Montenegro have moved along the road of integration and thereby are investing into the stability not only of the Balkans but also in stability and peace in Europe as well."

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said both republics will share a common defense and foreign policy, but have separate economies, currencies, and customs services.

Kostunica said earlier that the political accord calls for new federal elections in the autumn, and that the parliaments of both republics will begin working on constitutional changes. The new name will not take effect until lawmakers ratify the accord.

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said he hopes such approval is forthcoming: "I am convinced and I sincerely hope that the political publics in Serbia and Montenegro will have a positive attitude towards the results of the current process and that the parliaments of Serbia and Montenegro will [ratify] the results."

Djukanovic added: "Finally, this agreement in no way threatens the basic right of every state and every nation, and that includes Serbia and Montenegro, to review its position after a certain period and to ask its citizens about the future of the state."