Constitution of Montenegro
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The current Constitution of Montenegro was ratified and adopted by the Constitutional Parliament of Montenegro on 19 October 2007 on an extraordinary session by achieving the required two-thirds supermajority of votes. The Constitution was officially proclaimed as the Constitution of Montenegro on 22 October 2007. This Constitution replaced the Constitution of 1992.
The preamble identifies the nationalities and national minorities of Montenegro as Montenegrins, Serbs, Bosniaks, Albanians, Muslims, Croats and others as citizens of Montenegro, free, equal and loyal to a civic and democratic Montenegro.
The new Constitution replaced the official language of the state from Serbian to Montenegrin, but also recognises Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian. It also declares Cyrillic and Latin scripts to be of equal standing in law.
The new Constitution states that a citizen of Montenegro is not allowed to be made a refugee- nor may he be extradited to another country, unless in compliance with a treaty which Montenegro has with a foreign country.
It also states that the President serves a five-year term and may only serve two terms. In order to be eligible for the position a person must be a citizen of Montenegro and must have lived in Montenegro for 10 of the 15 years prior to his candidature.
Voting for the Constitution
On 19 October 2007, the Constitutional Parliament of Montenegro held a session filled with angry debating to attain the two-third supermajority of votes required to ratify the draft Constitution. 55 of the 76 members present voted in favour, the two-thirds supermajority was therefore achieved, and the Constitution duly ratified.
The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (which includes the Croatian Civic Initiative) and the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro, as well as the opposition Movement for Changes, Bosniak Party and the Liberal Party of Montenegro voted in favour of the Constitution. The Socialist People's Party of Montenegro, People's Party, Democratic Serb Party and members of the Serb List opposed it. The ethnic Albanian minority representatives (Democratic League in Montenegro and Albanian Alternative) abstained from voting. The sole representative (and leader) of the Democratic Union of Albanians, Ferhat Dinoša, was abroad and therefore was not able to make it to the session. However, there are reports that Dinoša refused to vote because he did not want to be for the new Constitution, nor against it when Montenegro needed a Constitution. Vaselj Siništaj, the sole representative and leader of the Albanian Alternative, refused to vote because he wasn't given a guarantee by SDP that Malesija would become a full-fledged municipality, independent from the Municipality of Podgorica, after SDP had refused to sign an agreement that approved a referendum that would be held in six months on whether Malesija (Tuzi) would become a municipality. This agreement was, however, already signed by DPS, PzP, BS, DUA, AA and HGI and had also established that the crosses will be removed from the flag and coat of arms of Montenegro, and the Venice Commission will supervise how the judicial council functions. Siništaj later reported, however, that he believes that this Constitution was made for "future generations and better for tomorrow's Montenegro". Also, none of the amendments from any of the opposition parties were passed.
Miodrag Živković, leader of the Liberal Party of Montenegro, announced that the text of the Constitution should be acceptable by all the people of Montenegro. However, Nebojša Medojević, leader of the Movement for Changes, announced that nobody is completely satisfied with the new Constitution, but on the other hand cannot be completely satisfied with the Constitution. Medojević also announced that this will be the Constitution of all citizens of Montenegro, which will open the doors to the European Union.
The pro-Serbian parties in Montenegro declare the new Constitution "Anti-Serbian", which may deepen political divisions within Montenegro, and promised not to respect the new constitution- accusing it of being against the principles of a multicultural and multi-ethnic Montenegro. Predrag Popović, leader of the People's Party, announced that he is still unable to believe that Serbs will be "pushed" into becoming a national minority, thus not bringing any good to Montenegro. He has also announced that this element will further enforced divisions and that this new Constitution will not create a European Montenegro, but will rather push it into conflict.
Dobrilo Dedeić, a representative of the Serbian List, ripped up a revised edition of the proposal of the Montenegrin Constitution on 18 October 2007, a day before its adoption, declaring it to be discriminatory toward the Serbian people and stating that it will not bring reconciliation to Montenegro. He also announced that the Serbian List, as well as the Serbian people, will not respect the new Constitution and will quickly begin debate on the Serbian issue in Montenegro. He has also said that the Serbian people will remember the names of those who voted for a Constitution that discriminates against them. He also announced that the Serbian List will respect the new Constitution as much as the ruling coalition respected the former Constitution of Montenegro (i.e. the Constitution of the federal Serbia and Montenegro).
Goran Danilović of the Serbian People's Party envisions that political crises and battles will begin in Montenegro after the Constitution is adopted, because it is not designed to bring about political reconciliation. Danilović also announced that he believes the new Constitution to be discriminatory to Serbs in Montenegro.
The Albanian minority parties consider the new Constitution to be against the interests of the Albanian people. Mehmet Bardhi, leader of the Democratic League in Montenegro, announced that the Montenegrin government has missed the opportunity, through its lack of readiness, to use the new Constitution to fix Montenegrin-Albanian relations in Montenegro.
Previous Montenegrin Constitutions
Constitution of Montenegro in union with Serbia
The Constitution of the Republic of Montenegro was approved by Montenegro's Parliament on October 12, 1992. This established Montenegro as a democratic ecological and social constituent republic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with Serbian as its official language. Podgorica is defined as the state's capital. Power is vested in its citizens, who exercise it directly through the election of representatives to the Parliament. Decisions related to changes in constitutional status or to an alteration of borders are subject to a vote of the citizens of Montenegro exercised in a referendum. In the current constitution, there are 121 articles.
Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro
The Constitution of the republic within SFRY was brought in 1974. The "Socialist Republic of Montenegro" was defined as a constitutive republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The capital was Titograd. Montenegro was defined a free non-national civic state, with Serbo-Croatian its official language.
Constitution of the Princedom of Montenegro
The Constitution of the Princedom of Montenegro was introduced in 1905 in an effort to secularize the realm and limit the monarch's rule. Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro wanted to forestall a revolution like the one in Russia by placating constitutionalists. At that time, Montenegro along with Andorra, Monaco, the Russian Empire, the United Kingdom, and the Ottoman Empire (suspended) were the only states in Europe without a written constitution. It was heavily influenced by the Serbian constitution and came into effect a few months before Russia's. It defined Montenegro as a nation-state of the Montenegrins.
Montenegro thus became a constitutional absolutist monarchy. It defined three branches of authority:
- National Assembly (instead of the Senate long ago abolished by Prince Nicholas)
- the Cabinet of Ministers
- the Great Court.
The National Assembly enacted laws; however, Prince Nicholas kept the power of adoption, and could himself enact laws of significant national importance. The Prince (Књаз) was the hereditary head of state and commander of the army. He also named diplomatic representatives of the state.
The Cabinet of Ministers was named and replaced by the prince, and the government was overseen by the parliament. The constitution guaranteed citizens' freedoms: equality under the law, personal freedoms and freedom of conscience.
Montenegro's flag was a red-light blue-white tricolor and a variation of the princedom's coat of arms, a double-headed eagle, was adopted as state. All three major religions were recognized (Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Islam), and the Montenegrin Church sanctioned. The capital was Cetinje.
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