Monday, January 03, 2011

Scottish Labour Leader links Montenegro to Ethnic Cleansing

By Lucinda Cameron

Published: 03/01/2011

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray was yesterday urged to apologise after his comments linking Montenegro to ethnic cleansing sparked a diplomatic row.

A Montenegrin diplomat has written to him to complain over what he said in the Scottish Parliament just before Christmas.

During first minister’s questions that day, Mr Gray said he had looked at the SNP website for arguments in support of independence and that it cited Montenegro as having gained its independence in 40 days.

The SNP website states: “Montenegro shows us just how easy it can be to become an independent country. Forty days is all it took for Montenegro to regain her freedom. It could be Scotland next.”

But Mr Gray said it took “forty days, two world wars, the Balkan conflict, ethnic cleansing, a war crimes tribunal and a UN peacekeeping mission”.

Marijana Zivkovic, Charge d’affaires at the Embassy of Montenegro in London, has rebuked him over the comments he made at Holyrood on December 23.

In a letter to Mr Gray, which was also copied to First Minister Alex Salmond and Labour leader Ed Miliband, she expressed her “deep regret” about the way he depicted the country in his public statement.

She wrote: “Your statement that Montenegro was involved in ethnic cleansing, including your references to a war crimes tribunal and a UN peacekeeping mission is simply incorrect.

“It was the only former Yugoslav republic where neither war nor devastations took place in the last decade of the 20th century. Apart from the fact that there was no ethnic cleansing, Montenegro also opened its doors to the refugees of all nations.”

The country was part of Yugoslavia and then the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, but gained independence in 2006 following a referendum.

A 1992 UN paper on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina said it was “gravely concerned” about human rights abuses by Serbian and Montenegrin forces.

SNP foreign affairs spokesman Angus Robertson MP called on Mr Gray to apologise for his comments.

He said: “We are used to Mr Gray not letting the facts get in the way of his rhetoric but he has now managed to let his international ignorance embarrass Scotland. That is not good enough. He needs to do the decent thing and apologise to the people of Montenegro. And, he also needs to apologise to the people of Scotland for the embarrassment his gaffes have caused.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Iain Gray will of course reply to the Montenegrin embassy and inform them in full of his comments and the context he made them in.

“The SNP website’s assertion that Montenegro’s path to independence took 40 days and “showed how easy it can be to become an independent country” was facile and ignored the history of the wider region through two world wars and the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

“To re-establish statehood as a modern democracy was a remarkable achievement and should not be referred to glibly as easy.”


Anonymous said...

Montenegro backed the Yugoslav Army's attack on Dubrovnik and southern Croatia.

It is well documented that the Yugoslav Army units, led by Dukanovic, Bulatovic, Montenegrin officers and full of Montenegrin reservists, played in shelling the historic port city of Dubrovnik, causing millions of euros in damage. 43 people died in the attack, which lasted from October to December 1991.

Watch it on YouTube!

Anonymous said...

Milo Djukanovic was the Prime Minister at the time, but he did nothing to prevent the attack!

Anonymous said...

According to the BBC, Tuesday, April 20, 1999:

"Nato says Yugoslav forces have extended their ethnic cleansing operations beyond Kosovo, to villages inside Montenegro."

Alliance spokesman Jamie Shea said it was "new and distressing'' to hear of ethnic cleansing by Serbia inside Montenegro - its junior partner in federal Yugoslavia.

Montenegro has increasingly sought to distance itself from the policies of President Milosevic.

At the daily Nato briefing, Mr Shea said villages close to the border with Kosovo had been attacked in recent days.

''This can only exacerabate the problem, which is already of alarming proportions,'' he said.


'Children held for blood'

Mr Shea said refugees reported that Serb forces were:

- Holding 700 Kosovo-Albanian boys prisoner, using them as "blood banks" for injured troops.

- Using Kosovo Albanians as human shields, forcing them to stand in front of Serb tanks for two days.

Anonymous said...

There is truth to all of that, but what I can't understand is, why are not the Albanian webpages in Malesia writing/responding to this?

There are many Albanian historians living in Malesia that know the facts behind many atrocities committed by Montenegrins (not Serbs) against Albanians.

To date, Montenegrins blame all such "cleansing" on Serbs, thus washing their hands of those events.

~ Amir

Anonymous said...

It will all come back to haunt Montenegro just like the smuggling charges against Dukanovic.

Anonymous said...

If any one of you visits Dubrovnik, you will notice a plaque that lists all the Serbian and Montenegrin attacks; it is installed on the main entrance of the old city. This plaque has all the shells and bombs that fell in the city during the bombardment. It is upsetting what Montenegrin and Serbian forces did to this city protected by the UNESCO!

black eagle said...

I njejti mut jane te gjithe si malazezet si serbet.

Anonymous said...

After Milo Djukanovic resigned ahe denied his move was prompted by international pressure over his alleged criminal past.

Italian authorities have investigated Djukanovic for allegedly being part of a smuggling ring in the 1990s that brought cigarettes on motorboats into Italy and then the rest of western Europe from across the Adriatic. The probe was dropped in 2009 because of his diplomatic immunity.

Milo has denied the accusations, but said the smuggling -- a multi-million-dollar operation -- helped Montenegro survive international sanctions imposed on the regime of late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic for fomenting the wars in the Balkans.

Furthermore, Montenegro's deputy premier, Svetozar Marovic, resigned alongside Djukanovic. Days later, prosecutors arrested 10people, including Marovic's brother, for alleged receipt of kickbacks from a Russian billionaire in the sale of prized seaside property near the resort of Budva.

Anonymous said...

I think the Albanian Diaspora needs to do more regarding the countless Montenegrin Government irregularities, corruption and violation when it comes to the minority rights. In our contacts with numerous American and European politicians, diplomats and governmental officials, they all agree that Montenegro has failed Albanians in every aspect of their political and economic rights. We need to do a better job, in organizing ourselves and put forward an action plan that will show exactly where and how Montenegro has violating and manipulated the international and its domestic laws concerning ethnic Albanian rights. Many of these politicians are waiting for us, so we need to feed them with some hard-data facts regarding these issues; we need to present these truths to these politicians asap. I am more than positive, once we share this information with the USA and Europe politicians; they will step- up and hold Montenegro responsible regarding their dusted attitude toward ethnic Albanians. We must push forward with this data collection project, and then meeting with them; otherwise, Albanians in Montenegro will become extinct!

Anonymous said...

We have 2 Albanian lobbies, why don't we ask them to gather this information?

Anonymous said...

Which two?

Anonymous said...

National American Albanian Council (NAAC) and Albanian Amrican Civic League (AACL).

Anonymous said...


You're fucking kidding me right know, aren't you?

1) NAAC does not represent the real problems facing Albanians in Montenegro! What NAAC does is lobby on the behalf of Albanians in the USA who are seeking to advance their personal agendas in Montenegro. Example is Richard Lukaj, former Chairman of NAAC and businessman in Connecticut. He and his circle want to ensure that Albanians in Montenegro do not act out against the state and portray problems, because if there are issues in Montenegro where their could be potential uinrest, their investments in Budva, Ulqin, Podgorica and elsewhere is threatened. You cannot trust NAAC. And furthermore, NAAC has absolutely no one qualified to speak on behalf of Albanians.

2) AACL is a joke as well. They grew in popularity during the Kosova crisis, thereafter its leadership, along with Joe DioGuardi have been scrambling to stay alive. Joe was on the verge of abandoning AACL if he would have won the NY Senate seat. AACL has done nothing to advance teh Albanian cause in Montenegro (not even the trip Lantos took, nor the congressional hearing), nothing good came out from their efforts. Bottom line, AACL only works if you throw lots of money their way, otherwise forget it!

Neither NAAC or AACL participating at the demonstrations in DC/NYC sponsored by the Albanian-Montenegrins in the Diaspora.

Who's left:

You better look towards teh following organizations if you want real results:

Atdheu Na Bashkon,
Fondi Humanitar Malesia
Shoqata Ded Gjon Luli
Shoqata Malesia e Madhe