Friday, October 26, 2007

From three Leaders to three Stooges: Dinosha, Bardhi & Sinishtaj struggle with constitution

PODGORICA, Montenegro, 23 October 2007 -- Fireworks lit the sky above Podgorica this past Monday night to celebrate the important milestone for the country after it approved the much anticipated constitution after becoming a sovereign state 16 months ago. The festivities followed by a reception for Montenegro's political elite and diplomats who were the architects of the legal document.

Last Friday parliament voted to adopt a constitution reflecting the country's newly gained independence, and then formally adopted it late Monday night, after much political maneuvering among its members in parliament.
In the 81-seat parliament, 55 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, while 22 voted against it, and the rest abstained. Following months of deliberations in parliament, the ruling coalition managed to secure the two-thirds majority required for the adoption of the constitution to avoid a referendum.

The three Albanian representatives (Vasel Sinishtaj, Ferhat Dinosha, and Mehmet Bardhi), decided to abstain and did not vote in favor nor against the text. But their decision to abstain once again played into the hands of the majority.

Out of the 77 votes cast, the three Albanian votes (and 1 Bosniak) were the only ones undecided, leaving many experts to believe that the Albanians were under immense pressure not to partake in what could have been a deciding factor on whether the document passed or went to a referendum. Because 54 votes were required to reach two-thirds, securing the Albanian vote was critical, and thus came the incentives to Sinishtaj, with promises of a full municipality for Tuz, similar to promises made during Montenegro's independence drive, but with no end result.

According to published reports (BIRN, Blic, Dan, Vjesti, SE Times), the document was approved by the opposition Movement for Changes, the Liberal Party and by parties that represent Montenegro's Bosniak Muslim, Albanian and Croat communities. However, the Albanian support seemed to drop off when Sinishtaj and Bardhi reportedly backed-off on their initial support of the document and sought consultation from the Albanian diaspora in the United States as to whether their vote was representing the needs of those Albanians from Montenegro who live outside the state.
The diaspora requested to review the draft, but when the parties were unable to furnish a copy of the legal document it was too late and the constitution had already gone to a vote.

The decision to abstain is an enigma to this day, especially given that Dinsosha had more important business to attend to outside Montenegro and thought that voting for a document that would seal the fate of his people was not pressing enough. Bardhi, on the other hand, went on record to cite breaches to European laws as the reasons behind his decision to abstain. Although his argument was not supported by one single reference to any European law against minority/human rights, he would have had more credibility and substance to his decision by just voting "NO" instead of not voting at all. Abstaining provides some legitimacy, if not acceptance, to the language of the constitution, therefore his arguments were also dumbfounded. Sinsihtaj, a candidate that was vigorously supported by Malesia and the diaspora seemed confused from the very beginning. He was used as a pawn for the Montenegrin majority as they promised him a full municipality in Malesia for his vote. After initially agreeing to the language, he immediately backed off, without any argument or reasoning why, thus also abstaining and conceding that the Constitution may be in the best interests of Albanians, but not sure.

On the other hand, members of some pro-Serbian political parties in Montenegro boycotted the proclamation ceremony of the new Montenegrin Constitution on Oct. 22, saying it makes about 200,000 Serbs who had comprised a constitutive nation the minority in Montenegro, and under the new constitution, the Serbian language has been removed from official use and Serbs have no right to dual citizenship.

Where Albanians threw heartless jabs at the constitution in efforts to back their decision, parliament members from the Socialist National Party, National Party, Serbian National Party and Democratic Party flatly rejected the constitution, saying it does not guarantee the same right to all people in Montenegro.

According to the agreement which led to the constitution, early elections would be held in late 2009, a year ahead of schedule.


Anonymous said...

The decision to abstain is a joke -- you either vote YES or vote NO!




Anonymous said...

From SEE Times ...

The Serbian Orthodox Church opposes the new constitution because it labels the church as a religious community, without stating its full name and historical role. The Serbian Orthodox Church representative in Montenegro, Archbishop Amfilohije Radovic, said the new constitution "spits" on the church.

Albanian parties also object to the new constitution because their demand for granting municipal status to Malesija, a region with a majority Albanian population, was not approved.

Pro-Serbian parties are opposed to the new constitution in large part because they claim that the approximately 200,000 Serbs, who account for roughly 30% of the Montenegrin population, now have minority status.

Fueling their criticism of the constitution is the fact that Montenegrin has replaced Serbian as the official language, whereas the Cyrillic and Latin letters are equally in use and in the last census, most Montenegrin citizens said they speak Serbian. An additional concern of the opposition is that Serbs no longer have the right to dual citizenship.

Adopting the document has also created cracks within the opposition. Other parties reproached Nebojsa Medojevic's Movement for Change for supporting the constitution and enabling its adoption. The opposition Bosniak Party also voted for the constitution.

The ruling parties, on the other hand, have voiced satisfaction with the new constitution. Former prime minister and leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, Milo Djukanovic, said it completes the restoration of Montenegro's statehood. He added that this would accelerate Euro-Atlantic integration.

OSCE Mission to Montenegro chief Paraskeva Badescu said the new constitution is "in line with the Council of Europe's recommendations". Badescu told the media that with the new constitution, "Montenegro has taken one more important step in its effort to strengthen democratic reforms and the rule of law."

The opposition Serb Ticket has urged the public not to abide by the new constitution, as it "discriminates against Serbs". "From now on, we will fight for the equality of Serbs in Montenegro," a press release vows.

Anonymous said...

You would expect some serious analysis of this document and what the underlying principles of minority rights are as they pertain to our interests.

Why did they not at least hire a political consultant to review the text for them? Someone who is seasoned in this kind of stuff.

I wonder who they attempted to send it to in the diaspora.

Anyway, is is truly embarrasing that they cannot justify what elements of minority protection/advancement they had problems with. There are those asserting that they only cited the Municipality as the sole reason for abstaining (as Mark's post mentions). If that is true, then that is sad!

VIVA KOSOVA!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Were anu of you aware of this:

James H. Meredith, U.S. writer and one of the most prominent people in U.S. civil rights history, spent a week in Montenegro conducting a series of lectures and discussions about minority rights in a multiethnic society. He met with students, professors, NGO representatives, and civil servants. Mr. Meredith spoke about the protection of civil rights in the United States and other countries, including legislation, implementing mechanisms, and the historical context to local audiences in Podgorica, Bijelo Polje and Ulcinj. .

Anonymous said...

Is it then any wonder to any of you why suppressed people decide to take up arms and fight for their freedom?

The state fails you!

Your popularly elected officials fail you!

The international legal community fails you!

Non-governmental organizations fail you!

What recourse then do we have????

Sometimes it is not by choice that we act the way we do, but it is the climate that forces us to do things we normally do not desire.

Anonymous said...

Che, you are correct! When enough is enough then the only "recourse" seems to be what you eluded to. History defines this for us.

I'm sure you remember the crisis in Macedonia that catapulted Ali Ahmeti to an MP, this after the Ohrid Agreement.

When the state fails you, then what do you do? Ahmeti proposes the following published from Vecer Newspaper:

Ali Ahmeti threatens with new war

Skopje/Athens. If the problems of Albanians in Macedonia are not solved, the country will not enter NATO, but a new crisis similar to the 2001 one, leader of the Democratic Union of Integration /DUI/ Ali Ahmeti said in an interview with the Greek Kathimerini newspaper, the Macedonian Vecer newspaper publishes an article titled “Ali Ahmeti threatens with new war”.
In the interview Ahmeti accuses Nikola Gruevski of refusing to recognize the Albanian language as a second official language in Macedonia and to grant pensions to fighters from the former National Liberation Army /NLA/.
These two topics– NLA fighters’ status and Albanian language usage, are the “hot issues” in the political dialog between VMRO-DPMNE and DUI.

Anonymous said...

Don't compare the politics of Albanians in Macedonia with those of Malesia -- apples to oranges.

They (Ahmeti and Co.) acted out for greater rights, and thus received greater rights. Many may argue that their means to achieve their desired ends were extreme, BUT it worked and the path was set for reforms. Now if those reforms have been implemented is another story, and may be something to contend with in the coming years (if not months), but nonetheless Albanians in Macedonia did something about their status.


So please don't compare.

Anonymous said...

why don't we just vote Dukanovic back in, he was no worse than these 3 Stooges.

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is this:

What have our elected leaders in Parliament (the Three Stooges) done to improve our (Albanians) lives in Montenegro?

Be realistic.

This question is open to all that participate/view this forum.

Anonymous said...

If you consider attaing an "urban municipality" a plus, than that is it!

But Cunmulaj/Camaj did not get it, the commune was granted as is.

Let's not forget about the incompetence of Maliqi and Nikola Camaj, they are just as baffled with all this as the Stooges.

Anonymous said...

Can we talk about something else? How about Darfur? Pakistan? Venezuela? Iran?

I'm bored with Malesia! Those people have no backbone.