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South Slavic: May 16, 2002

16 May 2002, Volume 4, Number 16

The next issue of "RFE/RL South Slavic Report" will appear on 30 May 2002.


Interview with Radovan Martinovic, professor at the University of Montenegro. The interview was conducted in late April by Slavica Brajovic of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service.

RFE/RL: Professor Martinovic, what do you think about the general political and social situation in Montenegro after the signing of the Belgrade agreement? Is there a sort of institutional paralysis?

Martinovic: Well, I think that one should have expected such a situation -- because the agreement came out of the blue. It was not expected that the European Union would produce such an agreement.... Political parties were not prepared for this new system of agreements and talks, and wound up having to change their policies. The result was total confusion.

The European Union contributed to the mess with the agreement itself. [The EU seemed to be trying to compensate for past mistakes.]

But all it achieved was a postponement of the big political battle for another three years.... The European Union might have thought that a conflict or war could have started, but I find that attitude quite naive. We would not have fought each other: I think that we have had enough of that in our recent past...

RFE/RL: What is your general attitude about the way the European Union is behaving in this situation? Some think that the problem has just been swept under the carpet, while others believe that this agreement has actually put both Montenegro and Serbia under a sort of international protectorate.

Martinovic: Both Serbia and Montenegro are ripe for becoming protectorates. They were ripe back in 1991, too. I wish Europe had had an instrument that would have allowed all these states to be put under international protectorates. At least some 300,000 victims of this chaos would have been grateful.

We were not prepared for the transition [from communism]. We were dizzy after believing in what used to be called "socialism with human face," which was actually nothing but a smoother form of Stalinism.

We were unable to adapt to the new situation, to democracy. That was not surprising. Our society was not developed, we had no mature political parties, we were all brought up in a one-party system, and that was the way we were taught to think.

This is why we need the presence of Europe here. The changes must take place as soon as possible.

RFE/RL: So you think that the involvement of the European Union was actually a result of an assessment that the political elites in this region are incompetent?

Martinovic: Absolutely so. If that was the reason, then it was a rational one...

RFE/RL: What do you think is the reason for what I would call the constructive dialogue taking place in Montenegro? Is this the result of the parties concluding that their feuding has no future, or are they trying to preserve their [power] monopolies?

Martinovic: The only political force with such a tradition is the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) [of President Milo Djukanovic]. They have inherited that tradition from the former Socialist Alliance.

They represent the tradition of socialism and communism, but, unfortunately, they did not know how to change direction, to carry out the transition. What they did instead was to keep all the bad characteristics of socialism and destroy its ability to provide social security and offer hope.

They allowed a little bit of corruption, a little bit of quick-money schemes, and what we have now is total confusion. And, finally all those party leaders, with only a few respectable exceptions, are political dilettantes and ignoramuses.

At the same time, intellectuals have withdrawn. They are not taking part in political life anymore. Many of my colleagues -- with whom I sometimes participate in TV talk shows -- and I simply have no influence whatsoever on a political stage like this one. Those in power have been running things as they please for the past 10 or 12 years...

We used to have so many wise people here. I often say that if Montenegrins are gifted with any sort of intelligence, then it is a so-called emotional intelligence, the one that is the most beautiful and the quickest. But, unfortunately, it often simply does not work.

I would like to hope that we could now go about our business intelligently, but I suspect that there will be just more political in-fighting....

The main parties have nothing in common beyond slogans and hence cannot possibly work together....

RFE/RL: So, you blame the intellectual elite for lacking a critical attitude about the antireformist trends in recent years?

Martinovic: I blame the narcissism of the politicians who have developed big egos, thinking that they are on the level of Njegos or King Nikola. [Editor's note: Montenegro's greatest modern ruler and its last monarch, respectively.]

In reality, they are insignificant. And unfortunately they are unable to attract people who are smarter than they are.... Instead, a new sort of energy is needed to inspire and invigorate the people with new ideas. After all, this people is smart enough to see what is good and what is bad.