When Đukanović first emerged on the political scene, he was a close ally of Slobodan Milošević
during the anti-bureaucratic revolution
(1988–1989) and the dissolution of SFR Yugoslavia
His cabinet actively participated in the siege of Dubrovnik
(1991–1992). Đukanović supported Momir Bulatović
's agreement on Lord Carrington
's terms, which resulted in the 1992 Montenegrin independence referendum
, where voters decided to remain in FR Yugoslavia
. In 1996, however, Đukanović distanced himself from Milošević and the federal government, abandoning the traditional joint Serbian and Montenegrin vision
in favour of Montenegrin nationalism
, which supported the state independence and a separate Montenegrin identity
. That led to the division of the party and the split of the Bulatović's pro-unionist faction. Shortly afterward, Đukanović defeated Bulatović in the 1997 presidential election
by a thin margin. In 1999, he negotiated with western countries in an attempt to limit airstrikes in Montenegro during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
, while later Đukanović oversaw the implementation of the Deutsche Mark
as the new currency in Montenegro, replacing the Yugoslav dinar
Milo Đukanović was born in Nikšić
on 15 February 1962, to Radovan and Stana Đukanović (née
Maksimović). His given name
is derived from that of a paternal relative who had fought alongside Đukanović's grandfather Blažo during World War I
; the name was selected by Đukanović's paternal grandmother.
Đukanović's paternal ancestors, members of the Ozrinići tribe
who hailed from the village of Čevo
, had settled in the Nikšić area following the Battle of Vučji Do
Prior to the birth of Đukanović's older sister Ana in 1960, Đukanović's father had worked as a judge in Bosnia and Herzegovina
, before relocating to Nikšić with his family and taking up residence in the Đukanović family's ancestral village, Rastovac
. Đukanović's mother was a nurse. His younger brother Aleksandar
(Aco) was born in 1965. Đukanović completed his primary
and secondary education
in Nikšić, before relocating to Titograd
to attend Veljko Vlahović University
's Faculty of Economics
. He graduated in 1986 with a diploma in tourism studies.
Đukanović was an avid basketball player in his youth.
In 1979, while still in high school, Đukanović joined the Yugoslav Communist League
(SKJ), the only political party allowed by law in the Yugoslavian one-party political system. His father Radovan was already an influential member within the party's Montenegrin branch
, which initially opened many doors for him. By 1986, he was a presidency member of Socialist Youth Alliance's (SSO) Montenegrin branch as well as the presidency member of its federal-level parent organization.
As a member of the party's various youth bodies he quickly stood out from the pack, earning a nickname Britva
('Straight razor') for his direct and forceful rhetoric. Progressing steadily up the party ladder, by 1988 Đukanović became a member of the League's highest decision-making body, the Central Committee (CK SKJ). It turned out to be the committee's last sitting and he became its youngest member ever.
Actively tagging along with somewhat more seasoned Communist League
members like Momir Bulatović
and Svetozar Marović
, Đukanović was still only 26 years old when the trio effectively gained power through full institutional control in Montenegro on 10 January 1989. They forced out the old Montenegrin communist guard by riding the wave of the anti-bureaucratic revolution, an administrative putsch within the Communist League orchestrated by Slobodan Milošević
and the state security apparatus. Effectively, Đukanović, Bulatović, and Marović became Milošević's extended hands in Montenegro, controlling the political and security apparatus he was in the finishing stages of molding to his personal preferences.
First three terms as Prime Minister of Montenegro (1991–1998)
Đukanović's government sent troops to fight seceding Croatia
as he opposed the fallout of Yugoslavia caused by Slovenian independence
and rebellions in other areas. Đukanović's cabinet actively participated in the siege of Dubrovnik
from the autumn of 1991 until spring 1992, which resulted in the city suffering heavy structural damage. The surrounding area of Konavli
also suffered due to looting raids. During this period Đukanović was one of the most vociferous hawks
in the Montenegrin government. Some of his notable statements from this period include a proclamation about "starting to hate chess because of the šahovnica
(the chequerboard Croatian coat-of-arms)"
and an aggressive declaration delivered in a public speech during the assault on Dubrovnik that "We have already thinned the AVNOJ
borders of Montenegro and Herzegovina
that is eastern Bosnia and Montenegro.
Enough have the Serbian people
been a slave to brotherhood and unity
, AVNOJist, Tito
's Yugoslavia, and even Aleksandar Karađorđević
's dreams of fixing Yugoslavia". Đukanović campaigned for the modification of the internal borders of the ex-Yugoslav republics saying: "it's time to once and for all establish the firmest border possible with Croatia, but it will be a border a lot more just and realistic than the existing one that was drawn-up by Bolshevik map makers".
In the spring of 1992, the Bosnian War
started and while Montenegro was not directly involved, it still played a role. The Montenegro-wide roundup of Bosnian Muslim refugees and their subsequent handover to the Army of Republika Srpska
(VRS) happened while Đukanović was Prime Minister. For more than three weeks, Montenegrin police and Yugoslav special forces hunted down Bosnian Muslim refugees. Two-hundred were handed over to the Trebinje Corps in neighboring Herzegovina and 83 were subsequently executed.
On the domestic political front in 1992, Đukanović became involved in a fierce political clash with the pro-Croatian Montenegrin artist and activist, Jevrem Brković
, which resulted in Brković's exile to Croatia, which lasted until 1998. On this occasion, Đukanović stated: "Every smart Montenegrin and every honest man in this land mentions the name of the traitor Jevrem Brković with hatred, who in pure vanity betrayed his people and knowingly spreads anti-Yugoslav speeches across Zagreb, while the Ustašas
, again like in 1941, bleed the defenseless Serbian civilians
Carrington's proposal and crises in 1992
The siege of Dubrovnik had enormous consequences for Yugoslavia's international standing. The European Economic Community
invited Lord Carrington
and representatives from Yugoslavia to negotiate the Carrington plan on 19 October 1991, in The Hague
. Milošević rejected the proposal of a "loose federation of independent states", and preferred a centralized Yugoslavia with institutional powers in Belgrade. However, in open defiance to Milošević, Đukanović supported Momir Bulatović
's agreement on Carrington's terms. Yet in a sharp turn, the Narodna Stranka (People's Party) called for an emergency session in the Montenegrin parliament, during which Bulatović was accused of treason.
Đukanović defended Bulatović in the parliamentary hearing.
As Bulatović's deputy, Đukanović was invited to negotiations with Milošević and Borisav Jović
, after which a clause was added to the Carrington proposal such that a republic could decide to stay in Yugoslavia through a referendum.
This resulted in the referendum on 1 March 1992
, where voters in Montenegro decided to remain in Yugoslavia
On 6 August 1992, a local warlord named Milika "Čeko" Dačević
occupied police headquarters in Pljevlja
after a vehicle used by his personal envoy was seized. In what quickly developed into an emergency, over half of the city's police surrendered to Dačević.
As a result, Đukanović and Bulatović participated in negotiations with Dobrica Ćosić
and Života Panić
One of Dačević's accomplices from Čajniče
, Duško Kornjača, threatened to kill all of the Muslims in Pljevlja unless Dačević was released.
During the meeting, Đukanović asked whether Montenegro could rely on the Army of Yugoslavia to protect the Muslims in Pljevlja.
Đukanović and Bulatović ultimately negotiated the disarmament of Dačević's men.
However, Pljevlja's Muslims were subject to multiple incidents up to 1995, particularly in the village of Bukovica where 6 Muslim inhabitants were killed from 1992.
Split from Yugoslav leadership
In November 1995, Đukanović and Svetozar Marović
visited the Pentagon
at the invitation of the United States, where they allegedly offered the Port of Bar
as a logistics venue for international peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The meeting at the Pentagon was criticized by Yugoslavia's ruling parties at the time. The vice-chairman of the Serbian Radical Party
, Milinko Gazdić, claimed that his party had proof that Đukanović and Marović were appealing to the United States for Montenegro's eventual secession from Yugoslavia.
This did not deter Đukanović from visiting Bill Clinton
during his re-election campaign for the 1996 presidential elections in the United States
. Some of Đukanović's critics claimed that he discussed donating to Clinton's campaign that year.
Đukanović's communication with Milošević began to deteriorate after a disagreement on how to address the hyperinflation
of the Yugoslav dinar
He then expressed opposition to the Dayton Agreement
, which he criticized as being anti-Serb.
In what was his most open criticism to date, he publicly blasted Milošević in an interview with the Belgrade weekly Vreme
, calling him "a man of obsolete political ideas".
On 10 March 1997, after a trip to Washington, D.C.
for Montenegro's Trade Mission by the initiative of Ratko Knežević
, The Washington Times
published a letter allegedly written by Đukanović to congressmen Nick Rahall
and Bruce Vento
Congressmen Rahall and Vento had traveled to Belgrade during the student protests
, even appearing in a Zajedno
A week after The Washington Times
ran the letter on its front page on 18 March, adding the title: "Milo Đukanovic continues endeavoring to break up FR Yugoslavia and Serbia."
Even though the letter did not actually mention Montenegrin secession, Đukanović denied writing the letter and said it was a forgery.
Another development which further distanced Đukanović from Milošević and Bulatović was his friendship with Vukašin Maraš, with whom he worked in the Automotive Association of Yugoslavia as a secondary job. On 28 July 1994, customs inspector Pavle Zelić informed the Federal Assembly of Yugoslavia that approximately 4–5 million DM
was found in boxes in AMSJ's office, and that he was not given a chance to count the money.
In 1997, DT Magazin
published a story reporting that the money was a part of a laundering
operation involving the importing of cigarettes, whisky, oil, and other scarce goods during the sanctions against Yugoslavia
, although most of the report could not be proven with the exception of the fact that the customs had been terminated after an agreement with Montenegrin customs chief Radosav Sekulić, Maraš, Đukanović, and Ana Begović.
The AMSJ affair was one of the early points in the breakup of Đukanović's affair with Bulatović.
In a more serious affair, in January 1996, Đukanović and Maraš met with MI6
agent Joseph "Joe" Busby in Hotel Yugoslavia
in Belgrade, where the idea of Montenegro declaring independence from the state union with Serbia was first mentioned to a foreign representative.
On at least two occasions, in 1996 and in May 1997, Bulatović requested the resignation of Maraš.
Instead, Đukanović kept Maraš as a security assistant to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Maraš initiated Operation Ljubović
, an overnight raid of the Ljubović
hotel in Podgorica five days before the 1997 election in which Đukanović ran, incriminating Bulatović's campaign of recruiting racketeers.
Those arrested were released after the election and relieved of all charges by 2002.
Bulatović's actual departure from the DPS took place on 11 July 1997, when the DPS GO ("Glavni odbor
") committee held a closed doors session, selecting Milica Pejanović-Đurišić
to replace Bulatović as the party president.
The party split had enormous implications, ultimately setting the stage for a confrontation between Đukanović and Bulatović inevitable. This manifested in the 1997 Montenegrin presidential election
held in October, which Đukanović won by a thin margin. Clinton envoy Robert Gelbard
testified about meeting Đukanović before and after the election in front of the U.S. Senate during the "Prospects for Democracy in Yugoslavia"
hearings on 29 July 1999.
Initially demanding greater autonomy, Đukanović and his supporters advocated Montenegrin nationalism
, which supported independence and a separate Montenegrin identity
The key point for an active change of policy towards independence is the deprivation of Montenegro's federal rights by the Milošević federal regime.
Presidency during the Kosovo War
Shortly after his inauguration in 1998, Đukanović told Gelbard and some foreign ambassadors about his vision of an independent Montenegro in the Gorica
Đukanović said that Gelbard and the ambassadors disagreed with him at the time, as they preferred Đukanović to work with the opposition in Belgrade.
On 24 March 1999, NATO began bombing Yugoslavia
. During the bombings, Jean-David Levitte
claimed that Đukanović asked Bill Clinton for airstrikes to remove Milošević.
Curious about Levitte's claim, Jacques Chirac
called Đukanović to ask if the Clinton requests were true. Đukanović told Chirac that "every bomb that fell in Montenegro threatened to weaken my government."
Chirac subsequently contacted Clinton and arranged limitations on airstrikes in Montenegro.
Shortly after the bombings ceased, Đukanović oversaw the implementation of the Deutsche Mark
as the new currency in Montenegro, replacing the Yugoslav Dinar
In a speech in June 2016, Đukanović told an audience that "1999 was a year of critical importance for the choice of an independent Montenegrin way. That meaning the rejection of the self-destructive war with NATO, and secondly, the implementation of the Deutsche Mark
a few months later."
Transition from Yugoslavia
In June 2000, he apologised to Croatia for the Montenegrin participation in the siege of Dubrovnik
, saying: "On my own behalf and on behalf of all the citizens of Montenegro I want to apologise to all citizens of Croatia, particularly in Konavli and Dubrovnik for all the pain and material damage inflicted by any member of the Montenegrin people."
After the overthrow of Milošević
, Đukanović faced a dilemma as he no longer could use Milošević's international standing to argue for Montenegro's independence from Yugoslavia.
In early 2002, Đukanović was subject to an investigation on international cigarette trafficking by the public prosecutor Giuseppe Scelsi of Bari
Simultaneously, he was involved in negotiations ahead of the Belgrade agreement, and Javier Solana
tried persuading him to abstain from independence at least temporarily
and that Montenegro should remain in Yugoslavia
. After the meetings with Solana, Đukanović signed the Belgrade Agreement on 14 March 2002, in addition to the signatures of Filip Vujanović
, Zoran Đinđić
, Vojislav Koštunica
, and Miroljub Labus
The agreement led to the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro
It mandated that after a period of three years, Montenegro could hold a referendum on the question of independence. In a bid to prolong his executive powers, Đukanović and Prime Minister Vujanović agreed a job-swap that same year. Đukanović did not run for president in the 2002 election
and Vujanović replaced him as the DPS candidate. On 25 November 2002, Đukanović resigned as president, several months before the end of his term, in order to become Prime Minister again. Vujanović, who had resigned as prime minister at the start of the month to become Speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament, was sworn in as acting president. Đukanović took office as prime minister on 8 January 2003. Vujanović succeeded him as president on 22 May 2003.
The 2006 Montenegrin independence referendum
resulted in Montenegro declaring independence from the state union with Serbia
. After the declaration of independence, Montenegro's Parliament appointed Đukanović as the first Minister of Defense.
Đukanović also acted as the president of the National Council for Sustainable Growth, a member of the Council for European Integration, and the president of the Agency for Promotion of Foreign Investment's managing board.
After independence had been achieved, Đukanović's brand of Montenegrin nationalism was no longer useful.
Resignation and first retirement (2006–2008)
Đukanović formally ceased to be the Prime Minister on 10 November 2006, as the new Government was elected by Parliament of Montenegro
. He cited his reasons for stepping down as "being tired of politics", and wishing to try himself out as a businessman. Đukanović served as a member of Parliament from October 2006 to February 2008. He announced that he might be willing to run in the April 2008 presidential election
but eventually decided against it, allowing Vujanović to easily win a second term.
Đukanović headed the proclamation of the new Constitution of Montenegro
on 22 October 2007. He received support from almost all DPS municipal boards and committees. Since 2006, Đukanović has opened five private businesses, the latest called Global Montenegro on 25 February 2008, and bought actions in his brother's bank
, altogether amassing property worth millions of euros. His other four companies are: Universitas, Capital Invest, Primary Invest, and Select Investments.
Fifth term as prime minister (2008–2010)
On 20 February 2008, President Vujanović nominated Đukanović as prime minister after Šturanović resigned due to illness.
He was accordingly elected as prime minister on 29 February 2008. His party won the 2009 parliamentary election
From 2008, Đukanović's time in the office was marked with advancing EU and NATO integration processes, in which Montenegro mostly went ahead of its neighbors.
In the meantime, on 9 October 2008, Montenegro recognized Kosovo
's independence, becoming the fourth former Yugoslav republic to recognize Kosovo. In the 2009 parliamentary election
, Đukanović's coalition again won a majority of seats.
Montenegro submitted its application for EU membership in December 2008. On 22 July 2009, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn
handed over the commission's Questionnaire to Đukanović in Podgorica and on 9 December 2009, Đukanović delivered to Rehn Montenegro's replies to the commission's Questionnaire in Brussels. Later that year Montenegro achieved visa liberalisation with the EU. On 1 May 2010, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) entered into force.
On 17 December 2010, Montenegro became an official EU candidate. As for Montenegro's NATO accession bid, the Allies decided to grant its request to join the Membership Action Plan
(MAP) in December 2009.
Resignation and second retirement (2010–2012)
After giving indications he would step down once the European Union
granted official candidate status to Montenegro's membership application, which it did on 17 December 2010, Đukanović resigned as prime minister on 21 December 2010. His party's leadership proposed Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Igor Lukšić
to lead the new government.
Lukšić was confirmed as the new prime minister by the Parliament of Montenegro on 29 December 2010.
Just like when he stepped down last time, Đukanović again retained the DPS party chairmanship. Furthermore, he did not rule out possible future campaigns for public office, including a 2013 run for President of Montenegro or a run for another tenure as prime minister.
Sixth term as prime minister (2012–2016)
Đukanović with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
, 19 May 2016.
After the parliamentary election
on 14 October 2012, Đukanović informed President Vujanović that he was capable of forming a government. His cabinet was approved by Parliament on 4 December 2012 and Đukanović returned to the office of Prime Minister on the same day. Together with Viktor Orbán
of Hungary, Đukanović was a runner-up to Vladimir Putin
for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
's 2014 "Person of the Year in Organized Crime" award, recognizing "the person who does the most to enable and promote organized criminal activity."
He later won the award in 2015.
Re-election to presidency (2018)
In 2018, it was announced Đukanović would be his party's candidate for the 2018 presidential election
It was the second time Đukanović ran for president, the last time having been in the controversial 1997 election. He won the election by a large margin, as opposition parties by and large campaigned for independent campaign Mladen Bojanić
Đukanović with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
, 4 October 2019.
In 2020, the Freedom House
reported that years of increasing state capture, abuse of power, and strongman tactics
employed by Đukanović have tipped his country over the edge – for the first time since 2003, Montenegro is no longer categorized as democracy
and became hybrid regime
For the first time in three decade and for the first time since the introduction of multi-party politics in Montenegro, the opposition won more votes than Đukanović's ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro
and the ODIHR
announced in preliminary findings that the 2020 elections were competitive and held in a highly polarized atmosphere especially regarding issues of church and national identity
They further concluded the election date had not been held in accordance with the Constitution, there had been no independent campaign coverage, and the ruling party had profited unjustifiably through widespread abuse of office and state resources.
On 1 September 2020, Đukanović accused Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić
and Belgrade-based media
of interfering in the internal politics of Montenegro, as well of alleged trying to revive a "Greater Serbia policy".
The chart below shows a timeline of the offices held by Đukanović and the Montenegro status. The left bar shows president and all prime ministers terms of Đukanović, and the right bar shows the country status of Montenegro at that time.
Đukanović giving a speech in 2018.
Allegations of tobacco smuggling
In July 2003, the prosecutor's office in Naples linked Đukanović with an organised crime racket worth billions of euros. Đukanović called a press conference in Podgorica to deny the allegations as a "loathsome political trick", aimed at criminalising him and his country.
Djukanovic has long been dogged by suspicions that he was involved in tobacco smuggling in Italy.
On 16 April 2003, the Judge for Preliminary Inquiries in Naples
rejected the Antimafia Commission
's request for a warrant for Đukanović's arrest, claiming him to be immune
from arrest as Prime Minister of Montenegro. The commission had been investigating him for some time, since at least May 2002
and had further requested his arrest as a precautionary measure.
The case was appealed to the Naples Court of Review, which ruled in Đukanović's favor. Besides claiming his immunity, he was described as not socially dangerous as well as ignorant that he was committing crimes. The case was then once again appealed, to the Court of Cassation
(Corte di Cassazione). On 28 December 2004, this court ruled in favor of the Antimafia Commission. It argued that as Montenegro was not a sovereign
state, Đukanović had no diplomatic immunity.
After the independence referendum, Đukanović's lawyer, Enrico Tuccillo, said that "The referendum has confirmed the premise of the Prime Minister, Milo Đukanović, about the sovereignty of Montenegro: therefore no doubt can now remain about the immunity, granted to heads of state and of government, which Đukanović enjoyed and enjoys."
On 27 March 2008, Đukanović made a low-profile visit to the prosecutor's office in Bari. He was questioned for six-and-a-half hours and answered about 80 prosecutor's questions regarding the accusations against him. On this occasion, Đukanović's lawyer said that he had written evidence proving that, at the time when his client submitted the request to give a statement to the Italian prosecution authorities in Bari, he did not occupy any public office whatsoever and, therefore, had no intention of hiding behind immunity in the first place. In April 2009, the prosecution authorities finally dropped the case against Đukanović.
According to court documents, "Montenegro has been a haven for illegal trafficking, where criminals acted with impunity, while the ports of Bar and Kotor were used as logistic bases for motor boats, with protection which was guaranteed by the government." In December 2009, Francesco Forgione
, a former Italian MP who led the Italian Parliament's Anti-Mafia Commission from 2006 to 2008, published a book titled Mafia Export
which cited the Montenegrin mafia and Djukanovic as one of the organisers of international cigarette smuggling between 1994 and 2000. By 2000, the illegal trade was worth several billion dollars annually, according to EU and US agencies.
Smears against journalists
Đukanović has a track record of attacking critical journalists and media outlets, smearing them as a "media mafia", claiming they are linked to organised crime, and calling them "rats", "monsters", "enemies of the state".
In 2015, the investigative journalists' network OCCRP
has named Milo Đukanović 'Person of the Year in Organized Crime'.
The extent of Đukanović's corruption
led to street demonstrations and calls for his removal.
Several thousand protesters demanding the resignation of Milo Đukanović and the formation of an interim government marched in the centre of the capital Podgorica
on the evening of 25 October 2015. Montenegrin police fired tear gas at opposition supporters, while chasing away the demonstrators with armored vehicles.
In February 2020 Đukanović called the citizens protesting against the newly proclaimed religion law "a lunatic movement".
Honours and awards
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- ^ "Kako su se "razveli" Milo i Momir: Dve decenije od sednice na kojoj se pocepao DPS". Nedeljnik (in Serbian). 11 July 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
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- ^ a b Huszka, Beata (2013). Secessionist Movements and Ethnic Conflict: Debate-Framing and Rhetoric in Independence Campaigns. Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 9781134687848.
- ^ a b c d Tamara Nikčević (5 July 2012). "INTERVJU – MILO ĐUKANOVIĆ – Priželjkivao sam da na čelu Srbije bude – Srbijanac". Vreme (in Serbian). Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- ^ a b c Jean-David Levitte, Jacques Chirac, Milo Đukanović (8 July 2015). 08 07 2015 Drugi dio iz emisije (YouTube). NATO Montenegro. Event occurs at 03:13–3:56. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- ^ Milo Đukanović (3 June 2016). Milo Đukanović – NATO bombardovanje Jugoslavije je bilo presudno za izbor nezavisnog puta Crne Gore! (YouTube) (in Serbian). Dokumentarne Emisije Balkana. Event occurs at 4:36–4:56. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
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Morrison, Kenneth (2009). Nationalism, Identity and Statehood in Post-Yugoslav Montenegro
. London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84511-710-8
Roberts, Elizabeth (2009). Realm of the Black Mountain
. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0801446016
Last edited on 28 April 2021, at 21:57
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