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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 09:09 GMT
Balkan media divided on historic deal
Montenegrin President Djukanovic, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica signing the agreement
Serbia and Montenegro sign historic deal

The media in both Serbian and Montenegrin are sharply divided in their response to Thursday's landmark agreement to do away with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and create a union of two states.

Some in Serbia agree with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, who hailed the deal as "a new beginning", while others believe Serbia has made too many concessions.

In Montenegro the EU-brokered deal is seen as a sell-out by pro-independence nationalists but is welcomed by their opponents who favour close links with Belgrade.

"The new union of Serbia and Montenegro is a loose union that does not exist either in theory or practice," said Vladan Batic, leader of the Christian-Democratic Party of Serbia, in remarks published by the Belgrade newspaper Blic.

"It is high time Serbia was an independent state... This imitation of a state cannot last for long."

There are many good reasons for staying in Yugoslavia. Emotional ones, above all.

Even Serbian officials, who ultimately backed the deal, felt their arms were twisted. Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus told Blic the terms of the deal were not really acceptable, but said he had been compelled to agree to it because it represented a path into the European Union.

"I do not hide that I am not happy, but this is reality. The basic reason I agreed to sign the agreement is that this is the only way for us to pursue our integration into Europe. The test will come in the next 12 months."

Common state

Those who have been fearing the break-up of Yugoslavia gave a thumbs up to the accord, seeing it as a way of retaining a common state. These views were aired by a number of Serbian newspapers, including Danas. The paper quoted Milena Bicic, a pensioner from Belgrade, as saying: "There are many good reasons for staying in Yugoslavia. Emotional ones, above all."

EU Foreign policy chief Javier Solana addresses the media following the signing of the agreement between Serbia and Montenegro
Solana addresses media following the signing of the accord
Montenegro's President Milo Djukanovic has not come in for much praise in his own country, although some analysts feel he deserves applause for dropping his drive towards independence.

"It is good that the danger of a division within Montenegro has been avoided. Djukanovic stopped at the brink of the abyss and we welcome that," the president of the National Party of Montenegro, Dragan Soc said.

A student Vojkan Radovic, whose views were aired by Glas Crnogoraca, told the paper: "I think this is what it should have been like long ago. Serbia and Montenegro should be together."

Others felt Montenegro had been betrayed, some saying the deal was a "rotten compromise" and a political defeat for Mr Djukanovic.

This is treason of catastrophic proportions, corrupt and brazen

Radio Free Montenegro listener
Anger and frustration poured over the radiowaves of the pro-independence station Radio Free Montenegro as dozens of listeners gave vent to their emotions, calling for Djukanovic's resignation.

"We really feel deceived - this is a disgrace," one listener said

"This is treason of catastrophic proportions, corrupt and brazen," another said.

"I think that the most honourable thing would be for our president to resign," said a third.

"The concept of new relations between Serbia and Montenegro is a mad concept. Such a freak of a state has never before existed anywhere."

The loss of the name Yugoslavia has brought laments from some analysts.

Professor Milanko Borovic told the newspaper Dan: "I cannot believe it. Like somebody killed a part of me. Like I lost a part of my youth forever. Yugoslavia is another name for all the beauties I and my generation saw."


The Sarajevo press welcomed the deal between Serbia and Montenegro.

"The death of the third Yugoslavia" and "Yugoslavia is gone" read the headlines of two dailies in Sarajevo, which suffered heavily during the war which erupted in 1992 after Bosnia declared its independence from Yugoslavia.

The new name for state, Serbia and Montenegro, is "good news for all those who claimed that Yugoslavia ceased to exist a decade ago", the Jutarnje Novine daily said.

The agreement "only postpones an inevitable epilogue - the end of the Yugoslav ideal that was used in the past as cover for the realization of greater state projects", said an editorial in Dnevni Avaz.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

14 Mar 02 | Europe
Testing end of 'Yugoslavia'
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