Situated in the south of the Adriatic Sea, with a population of over 10 million Montenegro is roughly the size of Northern Ireland and has a similar turbulent history. Neighboured by three of its former Yugoslavian counterparts Croatia, Serbia and Albania, Montenegro is an unforgettable land blessed with a host of worldly wonders including Europe’s largest bird preserve, its deepest canyon, its southernmost fiord, it’s last virgin forest (or so is claimed) and the largest lake in the Balkans.
However the self acclaimed “jewel of the Adriatic” and once hotspot Montenegro real estate for the rich and famous, still today bears the scars of almost a decade of international sanctions having unwillingly been drawn into a vicious implosion of the former Yugoslavia, although never directly involved in the conflict.
Plight for independence
The Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, made up of Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Macedonia, was declared in 1945. Ethnic tensions were masked under the reign of authoritarian communist leader Josip Broz Tito. Still 10 years after his death in 1980 the federation lived on, but under Serbian nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic it fell apart as blood was shed throughout the 1990s. Devastating wars raged in Croatia and Bosnia, and fierce violence flared up in Kosovo, a small province of Serbia. International pressure on President Milosevic grew amid the escalating violence and in 1999 Nato carried out air strikes on Serbia and Kosovo. The UN took over the administration of the Kosovo region making it an international protectorate although legally still part of Serbia.
Serbia and Montenegro had together formed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1992 and 2003, however Montenegro’s leaders had detached themselves from Milosevic’s handling of Kosovo, and following his fall from leadership in October 2000 were evermore keen for state independence. Plans for independence were not forgotten, but it would seem postponed, with the formation of the union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2003. Remnants of the ex-communist state were abolished and a new, looser union between the two republics was created