“Recent elections in Montenegro were as nothing compared to what follows – the census. Dangerous tensions are threatening because the definitive final battle has begun, and the main question is whether Montenegro will survive as a separate national-cultural entity and identity or will become only one of the Serbian provinces, i.e. a branch of Serbia at sea” – this is what a Croatian journalist, Mr Vlado Vurušić, wrote in his opinion piece several days ago, commenting on the campaign that went viral on social media ahead of the next year’s census which denies the existence of the Montenegrin nation and calls Montenegrins ‘Milogorci’, writes Dnevne Novine daily. The aim of Serbia is to have 40% people declaring themselves as Serbs in Montenegro thus becoming the most numerous nation, which would have far-reaching consequences.
The Serbian government does not hide that the census in another, sovereign, independent state is its priority, and that it’ll act accordingly.
About ten months ago, on January 23 this year, the Serbian President, Mr Aleksandar Vučić, said in Jerusalem that for him the 2021 census in Montenegro was “of key importance”, because “it’d be a catastrophe if it shows what some people think – that Serbs are disappearing in Montenegro.”
“I don’t think it’s true. We will do our best to encourage the Serbian people to declare how their fathers and grandfathers had declared,” Mr Vučić said, emphasizing that his “obligation and right is to take care of his compatriots and the Serbian church, all four eparchies covering the territory of Montenegro”.
In mid-May this year, he went a step further, and stated that many in Montenegro’s 2011 census did not declare themselves as Serbs “in order to save their jobs and families”. He then mentioned the percentages, stating, as the Serbian media reported, the following: “We could not find 15 percent of Serbs through the previous research, and according to the last research, there are over 20% of them…”.
What did Mr Vučić want to say? That with 28% of Serbs, as many as declared themselves on the last census, there are still 15% of them, or even 20% of new ones that need to be found?
Before the President of Serbia began publicly speaking about the census in Montenegro, the Strategy on Cooperation with the Serbian Diaspora was adopted, which many analysts call SANU Memorandum 3, while Serbian Ambassador to Montenegro, Mr Vladimir Božović, announced the opening of a Serbian consulate in the town of Berane.
Serbia’s actions ahead of the new census are identical to the campaign against Montenegro and Montenegrins ahead of the previous 2011 census. At that time, the “Strategy for Preserving and Strengthening the Relations between the Home Country and the Diaspora and the Home Country and Serbs in the Region” was also adopted and raised tensions between Podgorica and Belgrade.