Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Montenegro's Minorities in the Tangles of Citizenship, Participation, and Access to Rights

Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Montenegro's Minorities in the Tangles of Citizenship, Participation, and Access to Rights

Article excerpt

This paper examines the relationship between citizenship, participation, cultural and socio-economic rights of minorities in Montenegro by focusing on the divergence between policies and their implementation. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, it combines insights from law with ones from social and political studies. The paper is divided into three sequential analytical sections. The first section focuses on the definition of minorities in Montenegro, examining the relation between the status of minority and citizenship. The second section relates the previously analyzed concepts of citizenship and minority to representation and participation. It seeks to examine electoral legislation within the framework of 'authentic representation" of minorities, enshrined in the 2007 Constitution of Montenegro. The final section assesses minority access to cultural (group) and socio-economic (individual) rights. The section brings forward the argument that, despite the existing legal guarantees, many of these rights are too complex to realize in practice, particularly those related to language and education in one's own language.

Keywords: Montenegro, minorities, citizenship, rights, status, language, Roma

With the burgeoning of states in post-communist Europe, matters of status, access, participation and membership became key elements of state- and nation-building. The interplay of these socio-political processes in transitional contexts often placed minorities in positions which limited the full exercise of their rights. Different political environments, particularly in the Balkans, generated different policies towards minority groups. In light of this, the aim of this article is to examine the relationship between citizenship, participation and representation, and cultural and socio-economic rights of minorities in Montenegro. It argues that the inadequate minority protection in Montenegro emerges both from inconsistent legislation and the socio-political context in the country which represents an obstacle to the implementation of minority rights guarantees.

The appeal to minorities was crucial in the quest for Montenegrin independence, and has induced the 'instrumentalisation of minorities' by the pro-independence camp (Bieber, 2003). The minority-oriented platform, which the camp led by the Democratic Party of Socialists (Demokratska Partija Socijalista, DPS) adopted after the party split in 1997, was intended to attract minority votes. This platform of the pro-independence camp served as the setting stone in establishing the constitutional and legal frameworks for minority protection in Montenegro after the country became independent in 2006. However, minority rights are still a contested issue in Montenegro due to a number of inconsistent and conflicting legal provisions and the uneven implementation of laws.

The issues of status and definition of minorities have undergone three stages in Montenegro. After the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), Montenegro became part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY, composed of Serbia and Montenegro). From the adoption of the 1992 Constitution until September 1997, the designation used for minorities in Montenegro was 'national and ethnic minorities' (nacionalne i etnicke manjine). The second stage in Montenegro's definition of minorities lasted from September 1997, when the Montenegrin parliamentary parties ratified a document on the position of minorities1, until the adoption of the Law on Minority Rights and Freedoms {Zakon o manjinskim pravima i slobodama) in May 2006. The 1997 Agreement on the Minimum Principles for the Establishment of a Democratic Infrastructure in Montenegro (Sporazum o minimumu principa za razvoj demokratske infrastrukture u Crnoj Gori) referred to autochthonous minorities as 'minority peoples' (manjinski narodi), a term that encompassed Albanians, Bosniaks, Croats and Muslims. Changes in minority legislation were caused by the 1997 split of the ruling DPS, which subsequently prompted the political polarization of Montenegrin politics into pro-Milosevic and anti-Milosevic camps, or, after 2000, into pro-independence and pro-union blocs (Morrison, 2009; Bieber, 2002; Bieber, 2003; Sístek and Dimitrovová, 2003). …

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