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Montenegro - History

Montenegro resisted the rule of the Ottoman Turks, maintaining its independence and playing off its powerful neighbors against each other. Montenegro was recognized as an independent and sovereign principality by the Great Powers of Europe assembled at the Congress of Berlin on July 13, 1878.

During World War I, Montenegro fought on the side of the Allies but was defeated and occupied by Austria. Upon Austrian occupation, the Montenegrin king, King Nikola I, and his government went into exile. In late 1918, an Assembly met in Podgorica, and under the eyes of the Serbian army, deposed King Nikola and declared unification with Serbia. The government of Montenegro in exile denounced the Assembly's action, to no avail. From 1919 to 1941, Montenegro was part of what became known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, despite armed resistance in the early 1920s to rule from Belgrade.

After World War I, political forces in Montenegro were deeply divided between the Greens, who supported an independent Montenegro, and the Whites, who advocated unification with Serbia. The Whites prevailed, and in censuses taken during the interwar period Montenegrins were classified as Serbs. Montenegrins played a significant role in the defense forces of the interwar Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

When Yugoslavia was invaded and partitioned by the Axis powers in April 1941, Montenegro was appropriated by the Italians under a nominally autonomous administration. While some Montenegrins sided with Italy, motivated by antipathy against past rule from Belgrade, the Partisan Revolt in Montenegro began early, on July 13, 1941, and initially scored impressive successes against the Italian occupiers. Throughout World War II, Montenegro served as an effective base and refuge for Tito's Partisans. After the war, Montenegro was granted the status of a republic within Yugoslavia.

Montenegrins enlisted in the communist Partisans in large numbers during World War II and were disproportionately represented in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) and the government after the war. Although a large number of Montenegrin communists were expelled from the CPY for pro-Soviet sympathies after Yugoslavia broke with the Soviet Union in 1948, Montenegrins remained overrepresented in the Yugoslav bureaucratic and military services. In the early 1970s, Montenegrins made up roughly 5 percent of the population. But about 15 percent of the leaders of federal administrative bodies were Montenegrins, nearly 20 percent of the generals in the Yugoslav People's Army (YPA) were Montenegrin, and their presence in the overall officer corps was also disproportionately high. The Montenegrins' postwar loyalty to the CPY yielded plentiful development funds for their republic. For this reason, Montenegrin industries developed dramatically, although often without rational distribution of resources. Much investment was inordinately capital-intensive and wasted, and the republic suffered from low prices for the raw materials it sold to other republics.

The breakup of the Yugoslav federation after 1989 left Montenegro in a precarious position. Between 1991 and 1992, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia all seceded from Yugoslavia. On April 27, 1992 in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro joined in passing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Though Montenegro reaffirmed its political attachment to Serbia, a sense of a distinct Montenegrin identity continued to thrive. The government of Montenegro was critical of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's 1998-99 campaign in Kosovo, and the ruling coalition parties boycotted the September 2000 federal elections, which led to the eventual removal of Milosevic's regime.

In March 2002, the Belgrade Agreement was signed by the heads of the federal and republican governments, setting forth the parameters for a redefinition of Montenegro's relationship with Serbia within a joint state. On February 4, 2003, the F.R.Y. parliament ratified the Constitutional Charter, establishing a new state union and changing the name of the country from Yugoslavia to Serbia and Montenegro. On May 21, 2006, the Republic of Montenegro held a successful referendum on independence and declared independence on June 3.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:02:21 ZULU