17 February 2000, Volume 2, Number 7
What Future For Montenegro? Part II
This is a translation of Omer Karabeg's Radio Most (Bridge). Part I appeared on 10 February. Our guests are Vojin Djukanovic, the Montenegrin Minister of Energy, and Dusko Jovanovic, who is a member of the steering committee of the opposition Socialist People's Party, which is loyal to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Jovanovic: We are discussing here the dual currency system in Montenegro, and consequences of its introduction [last November]. Two currencies have been introduced: the German mark and the Yugoslav dinar. Do we live better now? We live worse than before, Minister Djukanovic, not because the wages are high or low but because prices have risen some 30 percent on the average.
Djukanovic: Not 30 but 25 percent.
Jovanovic: OK, fine, 25 percent. Is that not enough? Now, let me ask you, where are you going to find the necessary German marks to support the dual currency system?
Djukanovic: In our economy, Mr. Jovanovic.
Jovanovic: That is not right: the Americans have treated [Montenegrin President] Milo Djukanovic to some 50 million German marks. Why have they done so? So that he could subvert the system of the federal state as well as [Yugoslav President] Slobodan Milosevic directly. This is what our people call treason, Minister Djukanovic. What Montenegro was doing during the NATO aggression [in 1999] was treason too, a very classical case of treason, and what is being done right now is treason in terms of the economy and everything else, Minister Djukanovic.
The economy of Montenegro is based on the black market, crime, and treason toward national interests and the interests of the Yugoslav state. These are the facts, Minister Djukanovic, therefore let us not quibble here comparing the average income in Serbia and Montenegro.
In order to properly compare the situation in Montenegro and Serbia--which is not the issue tonight--one should compare the prices and living expenses in the two republics. And that is not the issue tonight. We can discuss it some other time, whenever you want.
You have mentioned restructuring the economy. What restructuring? Where are the [privatization] vouchers, Minister Djukanovic? You have doublecrossed all the citizens of Montenegro. You promised that vouchers would be distributed. Do you want me to tell you why you are not distributing them, why privatization is not taking place?
Because the list of those who were supposed to be given the vouchers is identical to the voting rolls. Since you intend to rig the next election, you do not want to carry out the privatization because it would force you to publish the voting rolls. This is why you are delaying the privatization. You intend to rig the next election first, and then to start the privatization, if there is anything left to be privatized. And there is nothing to be privatized even now.
Djukanovic: First, about the treason. The biggest traitors of all are you, the Serbian leadership and the Socialist People's Party, Mr. Jovanovic, because you have betrayed and lost Kosovo. That was the greatest defeat of all for the Serbian people, and it happened while you were in power. That is shameful.
Nowhere in the world is a defeat proclaimed a victory and celebrated, but that is exactly what you are doing by giving medals to each other. Only abnormal people can do things like that. You should finally understand that. You are declaring yourselves heroes while you hardly shot down one plane in 72 days; you did not capture one single soldier.
Only stupid and fanatical people can do what you have been doing: bringing ruin to your own people. This is why you brought your people to the brink of misery. Well, Montenegro does not want that any longer. When you were offered a fair solution for the problem of Kosovo [at the February 1999 Rambouillet talks], you refused it. You made the Serbs leave Croatia and Sarajevo, and now you made them leave Kosovo.
You think that your policy is supported by the population. No, you are wrong, Mr. Jovanovic, that is a policy that brings ruin to the people. As far as heroism is concerned, you are not heroes, you are nothing but cowards who did not succeed in resisting NATO forces in any single way.
The black market and crime that you have just mentioned--that is rubbish, your wishful thinking, since most of the hidden economy in Montenegro is under [the authorities'] control, much more than in Serbia.
As far as restructuring of the economy is concerned, Montenegro has chosen the right way. Everything is being done through an international call for tenders. There is nothing secret about it; everything is being done publicly. Companies that have been privatized function successfully. They are not a burden for the state, the way practically all the companies in Serbia are. Our companies already work according to international standards and adjust to international economic patterns.
Jovanovic: I wish you would repeat that to the workers of the iron and steel plant, saying that we should beg for aid around the world.
Djukanovic: You try to tell them that Kosovo is part of Serbia.
Jovanovic: Tell them that they should hug [U.S. Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright and ask her for advice as to how to make plans for the future development of Montenegro. You said that privatization is a public affair. What privatization are you talking about? We have been trying in vain for two years to see the contract regarding the sale of the Sima Milosevic Institute, the one you gave to [California-based businessman and former Yugoslav Prime Minister] Milan Panic. Only the head of your regime knows why it was done. What we have in Montenegro is robbery, not privatization.
Djukanovic: These are lies.
Jovanovic: We know who is buying attractive hotels in Montenegro. Those are the people authorized by your boss to develop black market business in and outside of Montenegro. They have become enormously rich and now they are buying up what the citizens of Montenegro have made with their own hands. We can meet those people everywhere in Montenegro. And now I am listening to you saying that it was done in a transparent and public way and that privatization is being conducted in the right way.
Djukanovic: Everything has been done publicly.
Jovanovic: Where are the vouchers, Minister Djukanovic? Why are they not distributed? What is left to be distributed to the citizens of Montenegro? It is all just smoke, you have been generating smoke for two years.
Djukanovic: You cannot talk about vouchers since you do not know anything about them. Please, do not talk about things you cannot understand.
Jovanovic: You were talking about the hidden economy. Give me an example of a state whose former foreign minister was accused by a foreign court of collaborating with the Mafia. Did not the head of your regime claim that [former Foreign Minister] Perovic [who resigned recently following an indictment by an Italian court] was clean?
But we have shown to you, Minister Djukanovic, that it was not true. Who is next, Minister Djukanovic? It all started with Vaso Baosic, now it is Minister Perovic--could the head of your regime be the next one? Maybe you are among them, Minister Djukanovic? Is your name on a list, somewhere? Things have started unraveling. I am afraid that you and the rest of the ministers might be in there. Deputy prime ministers, the prime minister, the minister of the interior, and finally the head of the regime.
Djukanovic: Mr. Jovanovic, an indictment is already being prepared for the head of your party [Momir Bulatovic] in The Hague. You know that very well. You are going to be held responsible for what was done in Kosovo. There are several more from your party to be indicted, you know that very well.
Jovanovic: You should propose to [former Kosova Liberation Army chief Hashim] Thaci to be his lawyer, for free.
Djukanovic: You will see what will happen once [Yugoslav leaders] arrive in The Hague and start talking about what they were planning and what they were doing, about the genocide they had planned.
Jovanovic: The Hague tribunal is one thing, Minister Djukanovic, and the anti-mafia court in Naples is something completely different.
Djukanovic: As far as I am concerned, you should not worry about me. I can look everyone in Montenegro straight in the eye, especially you. Be free to say whatever you know about Vojo Djukanovic.
Jovanovic: Mr. Djukanovic, you are a minister and therefore you have certain responsibility.
Djukanovic: I am proud of what I have achieved and of what I am doing right now. It is well known what industry is like in Serbia and in Montenegro. As far as Mr. Perovic's guilt is concerned, there will be plenty of time to discuss that later. There is a court in Italy to decide about that. What he was doing in 1990 was in the best interest of Montenegro.
Jovanovic: Minister Djukanovic, let us go back to economic issues. You have introduced the dual currency system and now we have the cost of living up by 25 percent. Tell us now, what you intend to do in order to compensate people for the rise?
Djukanovic: Thanks to the introduction of the German mark, we have achieved a stable economic level. No one is hiding behind inflation, idleness, and printing up money [as is the case in Serbia]. Our policy is transparent. There are more than 50 million German marks' worth of deposits in the Montenegrin economy. Citizens have 50 million German marks.
Jovanovic: How can citizens have 50 million German marks? That is probably the money of your businessmen, those whom you have made rich. They have more than that, they have 150 million marks. They are privileged individuals who have become rich thanks to you and your quasi-governmental business.
Djukanovic: No, that money is on the accounts of Montenegrin companies. You should go to the Office of Public Accounts and see for yourself. But you would probably prefer not to find anything there. That would make you happy. But that will not happen, since you can only be happy when something goes wrong in Montenegro. But when something goes well--which is the case right now--that makes you disappointed.
Jovanovic: What is going well, Minister Djukanovic?
Djukanovic: The economy, Mr. Jovanovic. The fact that there are 50 million German marks on the transfer accounts of our companies proves that it is going well. As well as the fact that some 80 percent of financial transactions are being done in German marks, proving that the system is working, that it will keep improving--that bothers you.
Karabeg: If you agree, we could now try to end this discussion. What is your conclusion Mr. Jovanovic?
Jovanovic: I think that Minister Djukanovic has failed to give precise answers to the questions regarding the economic situation in Montenegro, especially those about the consequences of the dual currency system. I invite Mr. Djukanovic to face me, on any of the Montenegrin TV channels, so that the Montenegrin public can decide who is right.
Finally, neither Mr. Djukanovic nor I should try to explain anything to citizens of Montenegro. Every morning, when they go shopping, they become ever more aware whether they are better or worse off since the introduction of the German mark.
Djukanovic: Mr. Jovanovic is obviously dissatisfied with the fact that a stable currency has been introduced in Montenegro and that the economic situation is improving daily. We started from a desperate position-- to which Belgrade's policies had brought us, policies supported by Mr. Jovanovic's party. Actually, it is not a party any more, it is rather a group working against interests of Montenegro. They hate to see that people in Montenegro live better than those in Serbia, and that the Montenegrin economy is open to the world and is part of it. Every Montenegrin success makes them nervous, since they are instructed by Belgrade to obstruct all the activities of the Montenegrin government.
The results we have achieved with the introduction of the dual currency system show that the German mark has entered the economy, that prices will stop rising--which was normal in the beginning--and that we have created a situation in which all those involved in the economy of Montenegro can start living on their earnings.