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News 26 Apr 12

Fate Of Montenegro’s State Symbols in Balance

Montenegro’s ruling party has said it may be willing to change the national anthem and the flag to meet opposition demands, but it has ruled out making Serbian an official language.

Milena Milosevic
BIRN
Podgorica

“Democratic Party of Socialists is open to talk with the opposition about potential changes to the national anthem and the flag," Dusko Markovic, a DPS official, said on Tuesday following a party meeting.

The ofer is seen is an attempt at compromise with opposition parties, which seek changes to state symbols in return for support for other constitutional changes in the field of judiciary.

The two biggest opposition parties, Socialist People’s Party, SNP, and New Serbian Democracy, NSD, want to exclude verses from the national anthem written by Sekula Drljevic, a controversial historical figure.

They also want a return to the pre-independence tricolour flag and for the Serbian language to enjoy official status.

But on Tuesday, the DPS rejected the demand for Serbian to be made another official language, saying it would undermine the civic basis of the Montenegrin state.

The 2007 consitution describes the official language as Montenegrin, although the majority of people say they speak Serbian.

“The civic concept of Montenegrin state was destroyed when the language of the linguistic minority was declared the official language," Goran Danilovic, an NSD official, retorted on Wednesday.

While he said he doubted that the ruling party was willing to compromise, the SNP, the party seeking changes to state symbols, sounded more optimistic.

In a statement, it expressed expectations that Montenegrin and Serbian will obtain equal status after party talks, which haven’t officially started yet.

Montenegro needs a two-thirds parliamentary majority to change the constitution in the field of judiciary in order to meet conditions set by the EU.

Hence, the support of the SNP and the NSD and compromise with them about the state symbols is crucial to the government. 

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