Saturday, June 03, 2006

Montenegro declares independence

Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica gestures during a news conference after a government meeting in Belgrade June 1, 2006.

REUTERS/Ivan Milutinovic

PODGORICA (Reuters) - The former Yugoslav republic of Montenegro declared independence on Saturday when its parliament adopted the May 21 national referendum decision to end a partnership with Serbia going back to 1918.
Opposition members opposed to the dissolution of the union boycotted the evening assembly session in the Adriatic coast republic in protest. Pro-independence members wore red lapel rosettes and Montenegrins celebrated outside the parliament.

The mountainous republic of 650,000 people, about the size of Northern Ireland, is the last of ex-Yugoslavia's constituent republics to leave the orbit of Belgrade.
In the case of Montenegro, Serbia's closest ally, the split ends a long, fraternal partnership whose dissolution was opposed by ethnic Serbs who live in Montenegro.
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica responded frostily to the Montenegrin decision and on Friday rebuffed European Union offers to assist the two countries in a "velvet divorce", indicating the parting will be correct but not amicable.

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