Montenegro, Bosnia at Loggerheads Over Border

30 Jan 15

Montenegro, Bosnia at Loggerheads Over Border

Montenegro and Bosnia are no closer to overcoming a border dispute over the Sutorina area, in the hinterland of the Adriatic, to which both countries lay claim.

Dusica Tomovic, Elvira M. Jukic

Podgorica, Sarajevo

Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina are no closer to settling a row over their borders in the Sutorina area.

As far as Montenegro is concerned, the Sutorina issue should be removed from discussion as soon as possible, the Foreign Minister, Igor Lukcic, told a parliamentary hearing on Friday. “Our position is clear and I do not see that anything can change it,” Luksic said.

The opposition had demanded an urgent parliamentary hearing of the Foreign Minister and of Interior Minister Rasko Konjevic, urging the government to deal more toughly with the dispute.

Montenegrin officials say that while the Sutorina dispute poses no danger to the European path of Montenegro, it may well endanger Bosnia’s own path.

Ministers have recalled that the demarcation process between the two countries was completed last year.

Some Bosnian politicians think differently, however. Denis Becirovic, the MP who proposed a resolution on Sutorina to the Bosnian Parliament this month, on Friday said that the facts about this issue needed to be determined.

“The task of the elected officials of this country is to take care of the interests of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

“We will stand up for the country and its borders – solely in a peaceful and democratic manner, using legal instruments.

“We respect the independence of Montenegro, but we also respect the principle ‘Theirs we don’t want, ours we don’t give’,” he added, referring to a phrase of Yugoslavia’s former leader, Josip Tito.

The Sutorina border dispute dates back to the time when both countries were republics in Yugoslavia.

The issue was revived after several Bosnian intellectuals and NGOs presented documentation that they said proved that the area had belonged to Bosnia until shortly after the Second World War.

The area in dispute comprises 75 square kilometers and includes five villages and the river Sutorina. If it was given to Bosnia, it would give the largely landlocked country a second access point to the Adriatic Sea, aside from small stretch of coast around Neum of around 24 kilometers.

Referring to Bosnian calls for for international arbitration over Sutorina, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic recently said Bosnian attempts to revise border issues would get nowhere – but were damaging the image of the region.

Two week ago, the President of Montenegro, Filip Vujanovic, refused to sign the appointment of a new ambassador to Sarajevo because of the row.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)