Monday, April 10, 2006

Independence by Minority?

The Article

10 April 06

Montenegro’s ethnic-Albanian minority may prove decisive in the forthcoming independence referendum, potentially pushing the yes vote over the 55 percent quota required by the EU.All polls so far have shown the pro-independence bloc leading by only a few percentage points.The Albanian vote has been an important issue in Montenegrin elections of the past.

Ethnic Albanians account for roughly 5 percent of the population, or about 30,000 out of a total just over 600,000 people.Under stringent voting rules demanded by the EU, a pro-independence vote must garner at least 55 percent of the votes cast and a voter turnout of at least 50 percent to be valid.Montenegro is the last republic of former Yugoslavia to still be associated with Serbia, in a dysfunctional state union brokered by the EU in 2003.

Two recent events reminded Montenegrins of the importance of the Albanian vote: a protest in Podgorica on 23 March by residents of Tuzi, a mostly ethnic-Albanian district of the Montenegrin capital, and an interview by a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) with the pro-Serbian daily Dan. In the interview, former UCK leader Adem Demaci made several radical statements, suggesting that Kosovo and Montenegro might one day be “united” and that ethnic-Albanian votes would bring independence to Montenegro.


Demaci’s statements added fuel to an already heated dispute between the pro-union and pro-independence blocs. It didn’t help that Demaci – the former leader of a group that Serbia and Montenegro consider a terrorist organization – praised Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, saying Kosovars would be honored to have him as their prime minister.....(continued)......


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