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YUGOSLAVIA (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) Mihailo Crnobrnja 1. History and Development of Federalism Although not an old country by any standard, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) has had a very dynamic and turbulent history. The country has survived long dominance by foreign powers and, in the twentieth century, it passed four constitutions and two sets of major constitutional amendments in less than 75 years. The country called Yugoslavia has also changed names, its size and the number of federal units which comprise it. It even disappeared off the map during World War II. The peoples of the area were ruled by foreign powers from the mid-1400s until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Austria controlled Slovenia, Hungary controlled Croatia, Venetians controlled parts of the coastal regions of what is now Croatia, and Serbia (which included what are now Macedonia and Montenegro) and Bosnia were under the control of the Ottoman Empire. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, which followed a war by Serbia, Montenegro and Russia against Turkey, Serbia gained independence from the Ottoman Empire, and Montenegro=s independence was recognized. At the outbreak of war in 1914 Montenegro decided to join Serbia in the war effort, and in November 1918 a national assembly voted for union with Serbia. Yugoslavia became a country after the end of World War I. On 1 December 1918, Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia (the latter two were formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which had collapsed by 1918) decided to join Serbia and Montenegro, and Macedonia in forming a new, multi-ethnic country. Initially the country was called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes but King Alexander changed its name to Yugoslavia in 1929. This AFirst Yugoslavia@ was a constitutional monarchy with a Parliament and the Serbian dynasty Karadjordjevic as sovereigns. Although multi-ethnic, and composed of distinct ethnic regions with individual histories, the country was centralized. The regions and ethnic groups had no autonomy in political affairs, or in cultural affairs. This was the cause of many tensions particularly among the Serbs and Croats. During World War II Yugoslavia was partitioned. Parts of the country were annexed to the German Reich, the coast was given to Italy, most of Macedonia was annexed by Bulgaria, Kosovo was given to Albania (then an Italian puppet state), and small parts in the north went under Hungarian jurisdiction. Two Aindependent@ states were createdCCroatia and SerbiaCboth effectively run by the German occupying forces. During the war two major resistance movements emerged. One groupCthe ChetnicsCwere royalists and fought for the restoration of the monarchy and AFirst Yugoslavia@. They operated exclusively in the Serb-populated areas. The other groupCknown as Partizans and led by Marshal Josip Broz TitoCoperated across all territories that had been part of Yugoslavia. They fought for a new, different Yugoslavia. Recognizing that the previously highly centralized state was ill-suited to the diversity of the ethnic groups that comprised it, the Partizans declared as early as 1943 their intention to organize a future Yugoslavia as a federal state. Tito=s Partizans eventually gained international recognition which strengthened them internally. With minimal assistance from Allied troops they managed to liberate all the territories of former Yugoslavia. They then set out to create the new, ASecond Yugoslavia@. On 29 November 1945 the country became the Federal People=s Republic of Yugoslavia, and the constitution of 1946 organized Yugoslavia as a federal state. The new federal Yugoslavia was made up of six republics: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. Two autonomous provinces were created within Serbia in recognition of the large minorities living there (Hungarians in Vojvodina and Albanians in Kosovo). Although nominally a federation, Yugoslavia was in fact a highly centralized state. Since the core of the Partizan movement was made up of Communists, it was no surprise that the political system soon became a replica of that in the Soviet Union. Although each republic had a constitution, an assembly, a flag and other symbols of sovereignty, most if not all political decision making took place in the Central Committee and the Politburo of the Yugoslav Communist Party. There was, however, considerable cultural and linguistic autonomy, which was some improvement over the pre-war situation. In 1948 Yugoslavia was expelled from the Soviet bloc for being too independent-minded. From that point on, the history of the Yugoslav state is basically one of gradual democratization and decentralization of state power from the centre to the federal republics. In 1963 a new constitution was adopted. Other than changing the name of the country to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), to underline and emphasize the ideological core of the country=s politics, the new constitution relegated considerable decision-making power to the republics. Thus, the fields of education, health and social policy were now primarily the responsibility of the republics. The judiciary and the law enforcement system were also changed to increase the power of the republics and decrease the responsibilities of the federal state. The state structure was changed yet again by the constitution of 1974 which gave the republics even more prerogatives. The new head of state, that would eventually replace Tito, was to be a collective presidency with a yearly rotating chairman. While Tito was alive this collective body was only symbolic but it did, in effect, take over when he died in 1980. In the constitution of 1974 the republics gained a right to secede, but the mechanism according to which this could be undertaken was not specified, leading to major disagreements when the country dissolved in 1991-92. The republics also developed military structures, a kind of national guard and a supplementary component to the Yugoslav standing army. Finally, republics were allowed limited international relations and ministries of foreign affairs appeared in all of them. But the most controversial aspect of the constitution of 1974 was the treatment of the autonomous provinces in Serbia. While still nominally parts of Serbia, Kosovo and Vojvodina were at the same time federal units and had direct representation at the federal level where they were treated as almost equal to Serbia, which was one of the republics of the federation. The only difference was in the number of representatives that Serbia and Vojvodina/Kosovo respectively sent to the two chambers of the federal Parliament. This situation irritated Serbs enormously but they could do nothing while Tito was alive. After his death, the tension caused by such a constitutional arrangement helped a great deal in fomenting Serbian nationalism and the rise of Slobodan Milosevic to power. The period between Tito=s death and the definite disappearance of the Second Yugoslavia in 1992 was a period of gradual but steady atrophy of the federation. It became ever more dysfunctional and easy prey to mounting aspirations of leaders in the republics. From 1987 on, the rise of ethnic nationalism made the debate on the future of Yugoslavia even more passionate and heated. Every ethnic group claimed that it was dissatisfied with the existing arrangement and that another ethnic group (or groups) was getting a better deal. While Tito=s reign was symbolized by an inclusive agenda, one favouring centripetal forces, after his death the new elites in the republics favoured exclusive agendas which were divisive and strongly centrifugal. Since the constitution did not provide a clear mechanism for the dissolution of the federation, each side interpreted the process in the way best suited to it. Agreement was impossible and republics left Yugoslavia by unilateral decisions. The first to do so were Slovenia and Croatia, followed by Macedonia and finally Bosnia-Herzegovina. Unilateral declarations of independence were followed by wars in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Only Macedonia left the federation without firing a shot. Serbs first tried to keep Yugoslavia together by using military force in Slovenia. When that failed, they tried to create a greater Serbia which would include territories of Croatia and Bosnia inhabited by Serbs. This led to bloody ethnic wars which lasted almost four years. 2. Constitutional Provisions Relating to Federalism Today the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) is a federation of two units: the Republic of Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia. The capital is Belgrade. In terms of culture, religion and ethnic origins there is no difference between the populations of the two republicsCthese are two states of the same ethnic people. Serbia is eight times larger in terms of territory, 16 times in terms of population and roughly 20 times in terms of economic power. Creating a federation of such disproportionate partners was not easy. Running it has been even more of a problem. The current constitution of FRY came into force on 27 April 1992. The Preamble states that the two republics freely joined to make a new federation which is to continue as the sole legal successor of the previous state. The constitution declares the equality of all people as well as the equality of the two federal units of FRY (Article 1). It also provides the possibility of other states joining the FRY if they so desire, and if they accept the conditions specified by the constitution (Article 2). According to Article 3, the borders between the two republics can be changed only if an agreement between them to that effect has been reached. The constitution resolves the issue of the division of power by stating explicitly the functions that the joint state is expected to perform. All other issues are by implication the prerogative and responsibility of the constituent units (Article 6). Section 4 of the constitution deals with the functions of the state to be performed at the federal level. They are listed in Article 77 as: 1. the adoption of a common civil code and due process of law, and the necessary instruments, organizations and institutions for its implementation; 2. the creation of the institutions of a common market, monetary policy, the banking system, foreign-exchange system, customs, financial relations with third parties and the basis of a fiscal system; 3. the implementation of a common development policy designed to overcome the differences and disparities between regions and the two federal units; 4. the maintenance and development of a common physical infrastructure and communication systems, protection of the environment and regulation of the use of rivers and the sea; 5. the provision of physical and financial security for individuals and organizations; 6. the conduct of foreign policy and the administration of border crossings and status of aliens; 7. the security and defence of FRY; 8. the protection of the health of population from epidemics, ionized radiation, the manufacture and sale of medicaments, control of the production, distribution and transportation of firearms, hazardous and radioactive materials; protection of animals and plants from disease; 9. the financing of the competencies of the FRY; 10. the organization and work of the organs of the FRY: and 11. the establishment of national holidays and the orders of merit to be issued by the federal state. To perform these functions, the organs and institutions of the federal state have autonomous sources of revenue which include revenues from customs, duties and international tariffs, a portion of the general turnover tax, and other sources specified by federal law. The highest federal decision-making and law-making body is the Federal Assembly (Article 78). According to Section V, Article 78, the Federal Assembly=s powers include, among other things, the ability to decide on the admission of other states in the FRY, make decisions on any alterations to the borders of the country, and adopt and enact the federal budget. As well, according to Amendment II (which replaced Article 78(7) of the constitution), the Federal Assembly has the power to choose and dismiss the President of the Federal Government (also referred to as the Prime Minister), members of the federal government, judges of the Federal Constitution Court, judges of the Federal Court, the Federal Prosecutor, the Governor of the National Bank and other federal officials. The Federal Assembly may also dismiss the President of the Republic when the Federal Constitutional Court confirms that the President has violated the constitution. At least two-thirds of the representatives of both Chambers of the Federal Assembly must accept a proposal for dismissal (Amendment VII, supplementing Section V, Paragraph 2 of the constitution). The Federal Assembly is bicameral (Article 80) and consists of the Council of Citizens and the Council of the Republics. Members of Parliament are elected to the Council of Citizens by universal, direct and secret ballot, for a period of four years, each of them representing a constituency of 65,000. Member republics are guaranteed at least 30 members of the Council of Citizens (Article 80). The Council of Republics consists of 20 representatives from each republic (Article 80, and see Amendment III of the constitution). Both of these provisions in Article 80 benefit Montenegro because of its smaller population. The election of members of the Council of Citizens is regulated by federal law while the election of members of the Council of Republics is regulated by laws in the respective republics. Article 86 of the constitution states explicitly that members of the Chamber of Citizens represent the citizens of the FRY, while members of Chamber of Republics Arepresent the member republics from which they were elected@. Both Chambers decide concurrently on matters in the jurisdiction of the Federal Assembly (Article 90). The federal government of Yugoslavia is led by a Prime Minister (or President of the Federal Republic) who is selected by a majority vote during a secret ballot held in both Chambers of the Federal Assembly (Amendment VIII, which replaced Articles 101(3), 102(2), 103(1), 104(1, 3, 4), 105(1)). The government must account for its actions to the Federal Assembly and can be dismissed on the grounds of non-confidence based on a majority vote of representatives in both Chambers of the Federal Assembly. According to Amendment V (which replaced Article 97 of the constitution), elections for the President of the Republic are to be held every four years, and the President is now directly elected by the population via secret ballot (according to the defunct Article 97 the President was elected by the Federal Assembly). The President=s duties include, inter alia, representing the country abroad, promulgating federal laws, ratifying international treaties, nominating a candidate for Prime Minister (after hearing opinions from groups in the Federal Assembly) and calling elections for the Federal Assembly (Article 96). It is important to note that Amendment V also states that Aaccording to the rules@, the President of the Republic and the President of the Federal Government (also referred to as the Prime Minister) cannot be from the same member republic. The constitution makes provision for a Federal Court (Articles 108-110) and a Federal Constitutional Court (Articles 124-132). Justices are appointed for a nine-year term. The Federal Court acts as a court of highest instance, and is responsible for hearing appeals coming from the republic=s courts. It also rules on conflicts of jurisdiction between courts, and Alays down the principles governing the uniform enforcement of federal statutes, other federal laws and general enactments by the courts@. The Federal Constitutional Court rules on the conformity of the republics= constitutions to the federal constitution, the conformity of FRY laws to international treaties, the conformity of the republics= statutes to federal law, conflicts of jurisdiction between the republics or between a republic and the federal government, and violations of electoral law. Acts of constitutional amendment can be made only if approved by two-thirds of members in both chambers of the Federal Assembly (Article 139). An amendment of the FRY constitution Ashall be deemed to be accepted@ when the assemblies of both member republics have approved and adopted it (Article 141, paragraph 2). As noted in this section, there have been a number of important amendments made to the constitution since 1992. It is important to note that there are no provisions in the constitution for the dissolution of the federation, i.e., for a case in which one of the constituent units decides to leave. 3. Recent Political Dynamics The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which has recently been re-admitted to the UN, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Stability Pact, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is once again shaking from within. For some time now, the government of Montenegro has been openly advocating a major reconstruction of the country. In fact, according to the latest suggestion coming from Montenegro, the federation would be dissolved and a union of two independent, internationally recognized states would take its place. This policy of distancing itself from Serbia, its federal partner, was initiated by Montenegro in 1997 when Slobodan Milosevic became the President of FRY. He chose as his Prime Minister a political leader from the opposition in Montenegro rather than from the ruling coalition. In effect, he chose a partner by loyalty and not by the spirit of the constitution. Since that time the ruling coalition in Montenegro has gradually but surely distanced itself from the federal authorities, declaring them illegal and illegitimate. Until recently, the West supported such political dynamics in Montenegro, offering moral, political and financial assistance to what was seen as a major irritant to Milosevic=s authoritarian rule and a bridgehead for the development of democracy in FRY. Initially, Montenegro maintained that it wanted to be a federal partner but that Milosevic was standing in the way with his authoritarian and heavy-handed rule which all but ignored the existence of Montenegro. But distancing from Milosevic=s policies in effect became a process of distancing from the federation. During the year 2000, for example, Montenegro replaced the Yugoslav dinar with the German deutsche mark as the currency in circulation, a violation of the federal constitution. The momentum toward Montenegro=s independence did not stop when Milosevic=s rule came to an end in October 2000. Milosevic continued to be an irritant in Yugoslav relations even after his removal, and indeed the federal government collapsed in a dispute over Milosevic=s extradition to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague. The democratically-elected President of Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica, and the democratically-elected government of Serbia offered immediate talks on the amendment of the existing constitution or the drafting of a new one based on federal principles. So far, Montenegro insists on, at best, an association or union of independent states. It will be up to Montenegro to decide the future of the federation, if any. But that will not be simple. Since Milosevic=s removal from power, the West has changed its position on Montenegrin independence and in fact is now suggesting that Montenegro should remain part of Yugoslavia. Perhaps more importantly, within Montenegro itself, the majority in support of independence is very slim at this timeCapproximately 55 per centCand the issue is very divisive. The main opposition party in Montenegro is flatly against independence, as is a junior coalition partner. Not only is the issue divisive, but it is also very emotional. Both sides of the debate about independence are very passionate about their respective positions so that violent confrontations and territorial division cannot be ruled out. Future constitutional talks will be necessary in order to find a mutually acceptable constitutional arrangement within the federal framework. It is not just Montenegro, however, which is agitating for change to the borders of Yugoslavia. No discussion of Yugoslavia would be complete without mention of the status of Kosovo within the federation. Since 1999 Kosovo, a formerly autonomous region within Serbia, has been de facto an international protectorate, run by UNMIK (The UN Mission in Kosovo). In 2001 elections were held to elect the President of Kosovo and a local parliament, enhancing the self-rule within the region. The final status of Kosovo, withing or without Yugoslavia and Serbia, is still a long way in the future. The UN Security Council resolution 1244 states that the solution must be found within the framework of Yugoslavia. So far, the international community has kept to the spirit and the letter of the Resolution, fearing a new wave of disintegration within the Balkans if Kosovo gains independance. The Serbs, of course, are also in favour of a Kosovo within Yugoslavia while the Albanians of Kosovo strongly reject the idea. The gap between the two positions is very wide and it will take a long time, and alot of hard work on the ground, to find a suitable bridge. 4. Sources for Further Information Crnobrnja, Mihailo, The Yugoslav Drama, 3rd ed., Montreal: McGill-Queen=s University Press, 2001. Lampe, John, Yugoslavia as History, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Ramet, Sabrina Petra, Nationalism and Federalism in Yugoslavia, 2nd ed., Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1992. (Library of Congress) (Official web-site of the Yugoslav government)