The countdown is on in Montenegro ahead of a crucial referendum on independence on Sunday. Emotions are running high on both sides as the vote is widely seen as a test ofthe small nation’s sense of identity.
Montenegro – the smallest republic in the former Yugoslavia – is currently the minority element of the young state of Serbia and Montenegro. A “Yes” vote would seal the final dissolution of Tito’s Yugoslavia. President Filip Vujanovic is staunchly in favour of total secession – he wants to speed up EU accession as well as adhesion to NATO and other international organisations. He claims his country is being held hostage by Serbia’s lack of cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal, which is demanding Belgrade hand over suspects Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic – a reluctance which has drawn international condemnation. The president is backed by his prime minister Milo Djukanovic who says he believes they will win. Predrag Bulatovic, leader of the pro-Serb socialist opposition, is similarly convinced Montenegrins will vote for his side. At least 55 percent of the voters must chose independence for the vote to be considered valid. The latest polls predict a 56 percent victory for the pro-independence camp.