PODGORICA, ME - Last week's parliamentary decision to adopt a proposal that would grant Gucia municipal status has drawn national attention from the Albanian minority throughout Montenegro. The adoption would make Gucia the 23rd municipality in Montenegro, with a population of approximately 2,000 Albanians and Bosniaks.
Gucia (formerly part of the municipality of Plav) voted in a referendum that backed a bid to obtain municipal status. Albanians welcomed the news, especially given that the road for municipal recognition (as with other minority attempts in Montenegro for equal rights) was long and arduous. Albanian political parties and NGOs worked in tandem to persuade the government to allow a referendum where local citizens would decide their own fate on various local government issues.
The ruling DPS and its autocrat, Milo Dukanovic repeatedly vetoed any proposal that would establish an Albanian-majority municipality, similar to those preventing another Albanian region -- Malesia -- from establishing its own local self-government.
With their unwavering position on establishing additional municipalities, Albanians threatened to boycott the 2012 elections. This translated into thousands of "no-votes" for the DPS, and given that Dukanovic depends heavily on minority votes to remain in power, he reluctantly bowed to the demands and approved the establishment of an autonomous Gucia Commune.
Earlier, Petnjica, also in the north of Montenegro, where the majority of citizens are Bosniak, regained the municipal status it previously had from 1945 to 1957, when it was merged with Berane.
Djukanovic has also announced the possibility of forming a new, 24th municipality in mainly Albanian Malesia, near the capital, Podgorica. Conversely, the politics surrounding Malesia are a slightly different than those affecting Gucia. Podgorica, the country's largest municipal zone, inhabits Malesia (with Tuzi as its center and approximately 13,000 Albanians), and the DPS relies on the Albanian vote to sustain government power and influence over the entire country. If Malesia were to divorce from Podgorica and form its own municipality, Dukanovic fears the votes for his party will also disappear.
Recent territorial laws surrounding the fate of Malesia have been subject to much criticism by Albanian political parties, especially a law that would not fully grant Malesia budgetary independence from the capital city's sphere of influence, something Podgorica's mayor, Miomir ("Mugy") Mugosha maintains is necessary and sufficient for the vitality of the region (Similar sentiments were expressed in 1957 when League of Communist Mayors' Iko Mirkovic and Branko Nilevic stripped Malesia of her municipal status). Milo Dukanovic is a descendant and former party leader of the same League of Communists along with Slobodan Milosevic.
Any conclusions we can draw from Dukanovic's decision to grant Gucia, and potentially Malesia, municipal status leads to the party's ambitions itself; the Albanian population, in the eyes of the DPS, is merely a number. That number translates into votes. For as long as Dukanovic maintains a grip on Albanian regions, his life-line in Montenegro is extended. Absurd as this may sound, one only needs to look at what's happening in Montenegro to connect the clues. Montenegrins and Serbs, who make up 73% of the population, are showing signs of discomfort with the DPS. In recent weeks, protesters took to the streets and challenged the authorities to address the country’s endemic social problems. Scenes like this are being echoed in neighboring Bosnia where talks of a "Balkan Spring" are spreading into cafes and villages.
Balkan Insight contributed to this story
I can't beieve it! Gusinje has a population less than 2,000 people, yet they are getting recognized as a municipality.
And Malesia has a population over 13,000 and they are struggling to get anything close to a full municipality.
What am i missing here?
The only reason I can come up with is this: Gusinje is diluted among Albanians and Bosniaks, and is no real threat (to Gjukanovic) of any nationalist movement, while Malesia is overwhelmingly Albanian, and lots of them, and more patriotic to the homeland.
I agree that Gucia doesn't pose any rebellious threat, but what makes you think Malesia does? What events have transpired in recent memory that sparks that conversation? Eagle's Flight? That only polarized Albanians, with a strong majority condemning that act.
I believe that Malesia is of economic value to Podgorica, and although the votes are good to have, the DPS will still get them in national elections.
Nothing makes me think Malësia poses NOR will carry out any (nationalist) threat, but it is the perception that has Podgorica hesitant to let her have its independent Commune.
Do you recall the height of the Albanian Diaspora (NY / Detroit) activities in 2005-2007, where the NGOs were making headlines not only in Malësia but also Podgorica? Demonstrations several times/year, high level meeting in DC, poignant press releases exposing the DPS and its cronies, and something that seems a world's away now ... unity? Do you remember those days? Well I can assure you no one is more relived that those days are over than Podgorica.
What the Diaspora was building, Podgorica was failing to tear down. In fact, there was a time that Gjukanovic would have agreed to a meeting with Albanian reps from those NGOs, but those associations (esp Sh. M.M.) refused to meet (perhaps that was a mistake but who knows). The straw that brought down the camel? Albanians (themselves) and their inability to stay united.
Similar to the political party entrepreneurs in Malësia, NGOs starting popping up and breaking apart all over the place from Chicago to Detroit to NY to Florida and then back to Detroit again. If someone's "idea" was not advanced or adopted in a platform, then they would breach the group and go off and form their own association. Sound familiar?
And it wasn't only the so-called "intellectuals" that were to blame, but out of the barn-yard sprang retired sheep-herders, starving real estate agents, restaurateurs, pizza-makers, NY-Supers, and even a vacuum repair man tried his luck ... and back down they all came when they could not conquer Decici as Deda and his boys did in 1911.
So where are these contemporary nationalists today? Hiding under pseudonyms and raising their swords on blogs like malesia.org, albadreams, and even this one. And another problem, even if these people want to do "something", there is not a whole lot they can do. Think for a moment ... besides opening up their wallets or joining a demonstration where the power of numbers is key importance, what have they been good for? What value do we (Albanians in Malësia) get when these same people contact members of Congress and demand meetings; when they host congressmen/senators/mayors, etc. to speak on "our" behalf; when they demand to speak on the microphone and explain the intricate details of why Malesia deserves a Municipality without citing any law, treaty, statute, minority right, and on and on? In this same point, what advantage do we get when these same people are heads of the Diaspora NGOs? NOTHING!
So the question presents itself: Where are the so-called "intellectuals"? As they sit on the sidelines, a vacuum is created and these "wanna-be-somethings" fill that void. The "sideliners" are just as much at fault and the others. Yes, they have their professions to deal with but so do all other nations and their Diasporas; that's what makes the Diaspora so important ... they work outside the homeland, they advance their status' so they can contribute intellectually, financially and politically to their brethren at home. So when someone cries that time is the problem, that's bullshit.
Back to my earlier point. Podgorica WAS afraid of the Albanian Diaspora, this I know for a fact. But this is now a moot point because of the slippery slope created by the Diaspora and their inner-fighting and head-butting. Today we are without leadership, without a platform, without unity, and soon we will be without a homeland.
What was once a proud and effective NGO, Detroit's Albanian-American Association (Shoqata Malësia e Madhe) had withered away into a meager group of elderly nostalgics who still believe they can climb Decici. They are led by a tile-maker/salesman who is like a virgin in a whore-house. NY is no better ... just a bunch of independent figure-heads who spit out one (group) email after another criticizing one after the other. All the NGOs can do now is run on a "good cause", like raising funds of education, scholarships, roads, schools, etc. All noble acts, however THERE IS NOT ONE ALBANIAN NGO THAT HAS THE CAPACITY TO POLITICALLY CHALLENGE THE STATUS-QUO IN MALESIA THAT HAS BEEN FABRICATED MY PODGORICA!!
That is the case today. I don't know what tomorrow brings. There is hope, there is always hope if what I said at the top is possible -- re-establishing fear of a movement in Malësia (engineered by a united Diaspora) and influencing policy change (as a result) in Podgorica. The possibility is always there for this to happen, but we need to conquer own demons first.
Thanks for the details. Very interesting and at the same time ... daunting. Sad forecast for our people.
Unity seems the only way past these issues they are facing.
Through "democratic elections" Malesia must expel these incompetent leaders. This is the only way that the international community will see the legitimacy in arguments like yours', otherwise any other method will be condemned. And yes, i am also talking revolt.
Albanians in Montenegro are the hardest Albanians to understand. They are the most assimilated in all the Balkans - to their "enemy".
Divided they are.
Who coined the term, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall"?
I am afraid that what has happened in Gucia will bleed into Malesia. Infiltrate Bosniaks and dilute the Albanian-dominated population. And then inter-marry and goodbye Albanians altogether!
With any sizable Bosniak population in Malesia, it will make it harder to reach any goal of sustaining the dream of Albanianism in the region.
And for those hard-core nationalists, you can forget about joining Shkodra, there will be obstacles like never in history.
I'm just saying.
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