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To the Participants in the Conference on Stability in Southeast Europe


Ladies and Gentlemen:

Matica Crnogorska is a non-governmental organization of independent intellectuals, which since its foundation in 1993 has been promoting the concept of a multiethnic and multicultural sovereign state of Montenegro, as well as the pacification of the Balkans and its integration into Europe. At this moment, Matica feels obliged to address the Montenegrin public opinion and the participants in the ongoing Conference in Bonn by presenting its views about the future position and interests of Montenegro.
We believe that this Conference should be an opportunity for Montenegro to examine its international position with a full emphasis on the area of strategic ideas and provision for its long-term interests. Unfortunately, the platform from which the Government of Montenegro is addressing the Conference in Bonn is limited to the matters of short-term tactics and daily politics.

Therefore, we appeal to the Conference participants to pay attention to the following views and positions:

1. A Need for Integration of the Balkans into Europe

Until now, all congresses and international conferences dealing with the fate and political solutions for the Balkan region were actually the deals made by the great powers, whose main concern was to fulfill their own interests. This is why the time bombs of ethnic and other antagonisms were left behind, and their explosions were so strong that they triggered world wars. This time, the Balkan question should be treated from the point of a global European interest. The political relations in this region should be designed in a way which would prevent the creation of any "great Balkan state" project, whether it be as a result of a single Balkan people expansionism, or as a reflection of any world power's interest. The Balkans should be integrated into Europe by means of such mechanisms, which would allow for the values of this region to become a part of the European civilization. By an accelerated economic development of the Balkan countries they would reach a state of being equal with the rest of developed Europe. Thus the Balkan complexes of crime, victimization and poverty will be eliminated.

2. Proclamation of Independence of the Remaining Republics (those which
still not sovereign states) of the Former Yugoslavia

It is necessary to complete the process of disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in order to create a healthy environment for new types of linkages among the states in this region. This is actually a continuation of the European policy since the agreement reached at the Hague conference in 1991.

The concept of Yugoslavia as a mode for integration, and Yugoslavia as a country of continuity should be definitely abandoned. The pursuing of the process of succession and false continuity allows for the continuation of the policy which has led to a ten-year war with tragic consequences for the region: crimes, destruction, ethnic cleansing, exodus of refugees and displaced persons, and an international military intervention. Focusing on the Kosovo problem only, and especially without focusing on the position of Montenegro, cannot solve a complex set of problems in the Balkans. Keeping Montenegro tied to a two-member federation with Serbia would mean a further prolonging of hegemony and domination by a majority, which would be dangerous for future relations on the Balkans. An independent and sovereign Montenegro has the capacity and moral credibility for creating new Mediterranean and European relations among the states in this region.

3. Defining the Mechanisms for Integration of the Balkans into the Economic and Social Environment of Europe

All countries in the region would be obliged to adapt their respective monetary, taxing, and customs regulations to the European standards, and European Union should be ready to offer them specific and comprehensive economic assistance in implementing those processes. The aim should be to improve the quality of life in the region, to develop and strengthen the democratic institutions, and to promote the corpus of individual and group civil rights. This would be the only way in which the Balkans could become healthy, and the southern Europe could become stable and open to the rest of the world.

4. Creation of a Unified Security System for the Balkans as a Demilitarized Region

There is a large quantity of weapons and armed forces accumulated on the Balkans. All countries in the region allocate significant portions of their national budgets to finance the military, which presents a constant threat to the peace. According to our project, Montenegro should have a small professional army, and its national security should be under the global European umbrella. This should apply for all Balkan countries.

5. Reform of the Educational System in the Countries of the Region so as to Allow for Building Up of a Democratic Conscience, Multi-Culture and Tolerance

Many generations in the region have until now been poisoned by historical myths, deliberate misinterpretations of their national history, hatred towards other ethnic and religious groups, which has been a source of atavisms and armed conflicts. The European Union should form a team of experts (similar to the practice applied to Germany after World War Two) which would develop programs for teaching democracy and tolerance. All countries in the region should undertake an obligation to reform their school curricula in compliance with the proposals made by the EU experts.

Accordingly, it is the position of Matica Crnogorska that a comprehensive and permanent solution for the Balkan problem is the integration of this region into Europe. Namely, each Balkan state should, on its own, be organically merged with the European mainstream. The bilateral and multilateral relations among the countries of Southeast Europe should be established on the principles, which are today applied, in the European Union. Montenegro, as a sovereign state, meets all conditions for an active participation in this process.
Any kind of regional treatment, which would not fully incorporate the Balkan Peninsula into Europe and its standards, would mean a long-term postponement of stabilization and peace in the south of Europe, and the continuation of agony in the Balkans.

With best wishes for the success of your conference, we remain,

Sincerely yours,

Branko Banjevic,
Matica Crnogorska, President
Cetinje, Montenegro
May 27, 1999