Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Rescued from a long-dead blog

A fascinating day yesterday in Podgorica. Met with Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and all three "expert teams" participating in the negotiations with Belgrade. This especially impressive as it was not only Sunday but also Christmas Eve in the Orthodox calendar.

EU seems to have badly screwed up by giving impression that it backs Belgrade no matter what. FRY/Serbia/SNP side therefore not inclined to actually negotiate with Montenegrins, and the converse also applies. EU not actually contributing to negotiations in any sensible way, certainly not to event hint they might provide the support necessary to prop up the preferred federal solution. My role was basically to reassure the Montenegrins that they had quite a good case and to offer a couple of suggestions about future tactics. They seemed grateful.

The ODIHR report on the Montenegrins' draft election law is scandalously one-sided. Vague references to "best international practice" on qualified majorities and turnout thresholds in referenda, citing an obsolete provision of Danish law and various non-sovereign Pacific island instances. It's obvious (but unstated by ODIHR) that the most relevant parallels are the post-Badinter referenda in the other ex-Yugoslav states, and the 1999 referendum in East Timor, which was also on its continuous membership of a federal state. Neither of these cases required a qualified majority. I bet none of the other recent cases examined by ODIHR did so either. The Montenegrins are moderately enthusiastic about the possibility of a multi-option referendum but I don't see how this could possibly work. One anti-independence activist from the People's Party wanted a qualified majority so that we could be sure that "real Montenegrins" backed independence. You might as well just deprive Muslims of the vote.

Also bumped into old friends. Podgorica was fairly empty in the afternoon as most of the population went up to Cetinje to dedicate their tree branches, some at the Serbian Orthodox church, more at the Montenegrin royal residence. I didn't get out of Podgorica but had superb views of stunning scenery from plane both on arrival and on departure. Journey back via Zurich and Frankfurt tedious especially since a litre bottle of Vranac broke in my bag soaking clothes with aromatic red wine... Had bizarre phone call with journalist in Frankfurt airport, but also bought what appears to be excellent book on organising one's work.

Back to work tomorrow.
Tags: world: montenegro

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