Miloš Vukanović: “The descendants of Montenegrin Chetniks were extremely pro-American in the 1960s-1980s. Now, they are pro-Russian with equal vigour, emphasizing Russia’s status as a bastion of Orthodox Christianity and anti-globalism”


Memory landscapes in (post)Yugoslavia

Edited by Milica Popović, Sciences Po CERI and University of Ljubljana and Natalija Majsova, University of Ljubljana and Catholic University of Louvain.


Yugoslavia as a state existed twice, once as a monarchy and once as a socialist republic. Different historical legacies, state regimes, cultural and religious heritage are woven into the region – there is a myriad of different political entities and also a plenitude of political and/or national/ethnic identities. The dissolution of the socialist republic, responsible for an advanced modernization of the country and an unprecedented development of the region, ensued during the crisis of the 1980s, and continued all the way into the violent wars of the 1990s. In January 1992, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fell apart. The end of the Yugoslav state, however, did not feature the end of the Yugoslav idea or the end of Yugoslav memory. While all are marked by “political abuse of power and the deeply unjust privatization processes” (Dolenec 2013: 7), each of the seven republics of Yugoslavia: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and Kosovo,[1] - reveals a particular memoryscape, abundant in internal battles, which sometimes converge and sometimes diverge, weaving a complex net of (post)Yugoslav memory.

In line with Catherine Baker's observation that “nationalism was an instrument, not a cause” (Baker 2015: 129), (post)Yugoslav memory continues to evolve in dialogue across the borders of (post)Yugoslav states. Although our approach in this series of interviews remains “republic-centered”, this does not in any way imply that we do not believe that (post)Yugoslav memory works as “nœuds de mémoire” (Rothberg 2009), producing new solidarities and possibilities for thought and action.

Before you is the fifth in a series of seven interviews with seven leading scholars in memory studies, each discussing memory politics within one of the (post)Yugoslav republics. While the online edition of Historical Expertise will publish them one by one as they are ready, the printed edition of the journal will gather them all together and provide a well-rounded whole – a comprehensive, in-depth outlook on the memory landscapes in the (post)Yugoslav space today


M.P. and N.M.


5. The case of the Republic of Montenegro.

Interview with Miloš Vukanović, mag. sc., former Deputy Director of the National Museum of Montenegro and coordinator of the Association of History Educators of Montenegro, Podgorica, Montenegro


Questions and Introduction by  dr. Natalija Majsova


Brussels-Ljubljana-Podgorica, 3.4.2020


Abstract: The recent historical victory of an alliance of three oppositional blocs in the Montenegrin parliamentary elections echoes a long history of growing disapproval of the contested rule of President Milo Đukanović and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). Over three decades in power, this regime has advanced a combination of a markedly neoliberal economic model, plagued by outrageous levels of corruption, and an ambivalent national idea, built around the incompatible ideals of a romantic Montenegrin nationalism and the citizen-based model of statehood. In this interview, mag.

Miloš Vukanović discusses the socially-divisive reverberations of these policies in memory politics, particularly focusing on the place of collective memory in secondary and tertiary education, museology and archive management.


Key words : memory politics, Montenegro, revisionism, textbooks, museums, archives

Montenegro declared independence on 3 June 2006, following a 55,5 %-majority vote at a nation-wide referendum (Morisson 2018, 130). The referendum concluded a decade of progressive deterioration of relations between the governments of Montenegro and Serbia, which had remained a single state after the disintegration of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991, under the name of the “Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” (FRY) from 1992 to 2003, and “Serbia and Montenegro” from 2003 to 2006. Montenegro’s declaration of independence went hand in hand with its government’s promises to set it onto the path of democratization, economic liberalization, NATO-accession, and European integration. By 2006, such intentions were not novel to the international community; the current Montenegrin President, veteran of Montenegrin politics Milo Đukanović, one of the strongest advocates of Montenegrin statehood since the 1990s, had repeated them since 1996 (cf. Gallagher 2003).

Montenegro’s attitude to the disintegration of the socialist Yugoslavia changed drastically over the last decade of the 20th century. In the early 1990s, the Montenegrin government supported the Serbian response to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, i.a. by taking on a pro-active role in the military operations in Dubrovnik in 1991 (Lukic 2001; Gallagher 2003). Over the following years, however, Serbian (1989-1992) and FRY (1992-1997) President Slobodan Milošević’s aggressively nationalist agenda encountered increasing opposition from the international community, turning the FRY into a war-exhausted pariah state. This increasingly unappealing image of the rump Yugoslavia opened up space for a Montenegrin national project (Gallagher 2003). In particular, the situation was recognized as an opportunity by a part of Montenegro’s political elites, i.e. Đukanović, who has, over the past thirty years in politics, “transitioned from being the youngest European Prime Minister, a Communist, a pro-Serbian nationalist, and an ally of Slobodan Milošević, to a champion of Montenegrin independence, and a guarantor of Montenegro’s European orientation and regional stability.” (Marović 2019)

Initially Milošević’s protégé, Đukanović had held increasingly critical views of Milošević’s economic policy and foreign affairs since the financial crisis of 1993. After a series of disagreements, a decisive rift between Đukanović and Milošević took place in 1997. It coincided with a split in Đukanović’s party DPS (Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, the transformed League of Communists of Montenegro), which led to the domination of Đukanović’s faction within the party, and his own victory in the 1997 presidential elections (Džankić and Keil 2016). Đukanović’s first presidency was marked by distinct efforts to secure the support of the international community and the other (post)Yugoslav republics for the Montenegrin declaration of independence. These included a clear rhetorical separation of Montenegrin and Serbian national identities, and a series of pragmatic steps, such as diplomatic discussions with the US government, an articulation of a decidedly pro-NATO and anti-Milošević stance in the Kosovo war in 1999, and economic measures, such as the introduction of a special customs regime, and of the German mark as the official Montenegrin currency in 1999. Apart from declaring himself a “modernizer” and a “technocrat” aiming to open up, democratize and westernize Montenegro, in 2000, Đukanović was the first (post)Yugoslav politician to deliver an official apology to Croatia for the atrocities committed against it by the Montenegrin soldiers and reservists in the Yugoslav wars (Gallagher 2003; Morrison 2018, Chapter 7).

By the late 1990s, there was an international recognition that Montenegro was undergoing “the Slovenian syndrome” (Gallagher 2003), i.e. aspiring for self-determination and independence from an increasingly dysfunctional federal formation. Moreover, Montenegrin pleas for independence relied on its long tradition of internationally recognized statehood: the Kingdom of Montenegro, ruled by the Petrović dynasty since the 17th century, had officially been recognized at the Berlin Congress of 1878, and existed until incorporation into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918 (cf. e.g. Saggau 2017). However, the international community remained reluctant to support the possibility of the disintegration of FRY – especially after the fall of Milošević’s regime in 2000, a circumstance that was hoped to allow for a renegotiation of Serb-Montenegrin relations within a federal formation –, fearing this might aggravate the instability in Kosovo, which had become a UN-protectorate in 1999, following a war (Morrison 2018, 119).

Milošević’s fall in 2000 did not contribute to smoother relations within the Federal Republic, which had de facto operated as two parallel formations since 1999; it changed its name to Serbia and Montenegro in 2003. A referendum on Montenegrin independence finally took place in 2006, the results opening the doors to the future narrated by Đukanović since the mid-1990s. In 2017, Montenegro joined NATO, fulfilling one of its independence-goals but the EU-accession process that began in 2006[2]  today is in the danger of being hindered by international concerns about the state’s government.

Đukanović’s party DPS, succinctly described by Bieber (2010) as a “party without a clear ideological profile”, has ruled the country from the introduction of the multi-party system in 1990, and was first defeated in the recent 11th parliamentary elections that took place on 30 August 2020. DPS’s defeat, by an alliance of three lists of oppositional parties – the conservative, pro-Serb bloc For the Future of Montenegro, the centrist Peace Is Our Nation bloc, and the socially progressive Black on White coalition, followed over a decade of consistent accusations of non-transparent governance and endorsing an economy plagued by corruption.

Persistently ignorant of these serious charges voiced by the opposition and the international community alike, the Montenegrin state has officially always adhered to the principles of multiethnicity and religious pluralism. While these buzzwords intended to integrate the ethnic minorities (the Albanians, Bosniaks, Croats, Montenegrin Muslims, and Serbs) into the national project pervade political statements of the Montenegrin ruling political elite (Pavlović 2019), they do not offer conclusions or summarize valid governing guidelines, but are actually caps on top of long and difficult discussions. Despite Đukanović’s nominal endorsement of democracy, technocracy and modernization, and the constitutional proclamation of Montenegro as a “state of its citizens” regardless of ethnicity, different political stakeholders consistently employ nationalist rhetoric to advance their agendas (Vachudova 2019; Morrison 2018, chapter 10) – mirroring the use of nationalism by the DPS.

A general fondness can be noted in the Montenegrin public sphere with regard to the socialist Yugoslav past, remembered as a time of economic development and progress (cf. Stojanović 2016). It is reminded of by both the preservation of street names and monuments, and by the nostalgic re-appropriations of socialist reference-points, such as Titograd, for modern products (Morrison 2018, chapter 10). At the same time, nationalist undercurrents have been evolving alongside this positive assessment of socialism.  A nascent Montenegrin nationalism, advanced by the ruling political elite since the mid-1990s, has been (re)inventing itself at the crossroads of 19th-century romantic mythology and selective remembrance of the country’s Yugoslav history, prolifically used by state media to strengthen the position of Đukanović’s regime. Nevertheless, the results of the recent elections demonstrate that years of ever louder accusations of criminal activities (Marović 2019; Džankić and Keil 2017) cannot be completely overriden by media politics.

It is difficult to predict how the new, ideologically heterogenous coalition government might influence the further development of the national imaginary in Montenegro, but it should be noted that nationalist inclinations are present across the political spectrum. The populist Democratic Front party, which has ties to the Serbian Orthodox Church, and will play an important role in the new ruling coalition as the major party of the For the Future of Montenegro bloc, is perhaps one of the clearest examples.

In the following interview, mag. Miloš Vukanović discusses the outlined issues in the broader historical context, and shedding light onto their pragmatic everyday reverberations in the realm of secondary and tertiary education and research. Vukanović is an advisor at the Center for Civic Education (CCE) in Montenegro and one of the founders of the Association of History Educators of Montenegro (HIPMONT). He is a historian and holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Montenegro in Podgorica (2016), and has completed professional specialization in museology at the European College of the University of Jena in Germany (2017). His work in the field of history education focuses on museology, and teaching and exhibiting 20th-century history in post-conflict societies. In 2011-2018, Vukanović was a curator at the History Museum of the National Museum of Montenegro (NMMNE), where he contributed to the creation of the new permanent exhibition. For the past decade, Vukanović has also cooperated with the European Association of Historical Educators (EUROCLIO) as project coordinator and editor for Montenegro, as well as EUROCLIO ambassador in Montenegro. As an expert and a consultant, he is engaged on projects run by various intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, such as the Council of Europe, the Regional Cooperation Council, the International Residual Mechanism in the Hague, ICOM, Geschichtswerkstatt Europa, Documenta, Topography of Terror, Yahad in Unum, and CDRSEE. His reflections on history education in Montenegro are regularly published in CCE expert manuals and other media, such as the European Pulse online journal.

  1. Your work is very socially engaged, as you aim to transfer insights from contemporary memory studies into school curricula, and your publications have raised important polemics with other Montenegrin historians, as well as other stakeholders in the State’s memory politics, such as the Serbian Orthodox church (SPC). What are, to you, the main goals of Montenegrin history textbooks used in primary and secondary schools, and what kind of a national remembrance culture do they encourage? 

According to standards, set up approximately 15 years ago in response to the recommendations put forth by the Council of Europe, textbooks in Montenegro try to fulfil a mixture of international and national requirements, which entail a separation of the curriculum into thirds, granting attention to national, regional and global history. Moreover, these schoolbooks have, for the past 15 years, taken into account the guidelines of the Council of Europe on the development of skills and other learning outcomes. In addition, there are requirements of the Montenegrin Ministry of Education, which stipulate that history textbooks for elementary and secondary schools should help to develop the sense of nationality and pride, while also encouraging tolerance, multinationalism, and multiconfessional cohesion within the nation. This reflects the multinational population of Montenegro, which, according to the latest census, consists of 45 % Montenegrins, 29 % Serbs, and other ethnic groups, e.g. Bosniaks.[3]

At the same time, Montenegrin history textbooks encourage a rather inclusive national remembrance culture. An earlier version of the Montenegrin national history narrative was built around Montenegrin resistance against the Ottoman Empire, underscoring the idea of one nation, one religion, and one nationality, and effectively stereotyping Ottoman culture in a negative way.

As the creation and the struggle for independence of the contemporary Montenegrin state are related to the history of and relations with the Ottoman Empire (from 15th century up until 1913), it is reasonable that the memory narrative of the Ottoman reign on Montenegrin territory is extremely relevant. By the 21st century, there appeared a general sentiment that Ottoman culture should not be antagonized, which was reflected in schoolbooks in certain ways too. For instance, the term “Turk”, which became used as a pejorative reference to the local Muslim population during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, has been replaced by the term “Ottoman”. While the Ottoman Empire remains considered a conqueror-nation, today’s schoolbooks also acknowledge the multifaceted impact of Ottoman culture on Montenegrin society; efforts to make room for Albanian culture as part of official discourses on Montenegrin identity are also evident. During the past several decades there has been a shift from a one-sided depiction of the Ottoman Empire as the historical enemy, toward a more complex view of the period, with a separate depiction of local and empire authorities (and their historical responsibility) as well with more emphasis on the significance and influence of Ottoman politics and culture on the regional and global history.

Despite these efforts to make national remembrance culture more inclusive, some issues from 20th century history remain obscured in contemporary history curricula and textbooks. These issues, still considered controversial by national historians, start with the First World War and the creation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918. In Montenegro, these events revolved around the Podgorica Assembly of 1918, which de facto signified the abolition of the Kingdom of Montenegro, integrating it into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in a controversial way. The second set of controversies revolves around World War II, crimes committed by all sides involved, and especially around post-war crimes. The third set of questions that are largely ignored refers to the 1991-1995 period of the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the role of Montenegro in the Yugoslav Wars. Primary- and high-school textbooks deal with all the three sets of issues in a similar way, avoiding the controversies by only presenting the narrative that is supported by the current dominant strand in Montenegrin historiography.

If we take 1918 and World War I as an example: two sides, the Greens and the Whites, were involved in the debate on the future of Montenegro as a state; current historiography privileges the Greens, while failing to critically assess the role played by the Whites.[4] Events related to the disappearance of the Kingdom of Montenegro in 1918, and the role played by the Montenegrin Petrović dynasty are also addressed in an uncritical way; they are simply written off as “bad”. Atrocities related to WWII are simply disregarded; and no recognition of Montenegrin responsibility or its role in the Yugoslav Wars of 1991-1995 can be detected.[5]

  1. Which historical narratives and periods are emphasized by textbook narratives, as the most important and valuable? How do they position Montenegro vis-à-vis Europe and its immediate neighbors? 

The core nation-building narrative is the statehood continuation of Doclea / Zeta / Montenegro political idea on the territory of present-day Montenegro. Three political entities have existed on the territory of contemporary Montenegro. In the 10th-11th centuries, the principality and later the Kingdom of Doclea; in the 14th-15th centuries, the principality of Zeta, and later, under the Petrović dynasty, the Kingdom of Montenegro. Our currently dominant history narrative claims that all three political entities were formed on the same political idea, suggesting a long-term political continuity. Therefore, in 2016, Montenegro celebrated a decade of renewed independence, which was declared after the referendum of 2006; however, the idea of 1000 years of statehood was also underscored. Namely, the first official Montenegrin document written by the Prince of Doclea dates from 1016. Current history textbooks subscribe to this overarching narrative of 10 years of independence and 1000 years of statehood.

This national myth functions in precisely the way outlined by Benedict Anderson, exemplifying his idea of an imagined  community; of course, almost all European nations – (post)Yugoslav nations not excluded – try to construct this connection and continuation to previous political structures on the territory they now occupy. In Montenegro, it the myth of 1000 years of statehood also features in arguments between the state and the Serbian Orthodox Church; whenever the Church mentioned its historical continuity over “eight centuries”, the former DPS government would not shy away from contending that the continuity of the state is longer, i.e., a thousand years.[6]

Moreover, the history of Doclea and Zeta is not exclusively an Orthodox Christian history – Zeta, which existed in 1220-1421, had incorporated notable Catholic influences due to the expansion of the Republic of Venice to its coastal regions.. While such dualities in the religious identity of Montenegro – which, in itself, is a rather novel construct the Montenegrin context – are mentioned in schoolbooks, they are actually quite difficult for people to comprehend. While no official public opinion survey on Montenegrin religious identities exists, ethnological studies actually show that the religious views and identification of Montenegrins are diverse and not at all predominantly Orthodox, as argued by the Serbian Orthodox Church. A confusion about relations between Montenegrin state formations and the Serbian Orthodox Church persists, as schoolbooks fail to address the fact that, under the Petrović dynasty (1696-1918), Montenegrin rulers were traditionally rather secular, not caring much for religion.

Apart from the outlined overarching myth of the historical continuity of Montenegrin statehood, other myths and mythologies that refer to the pre-Yugoslav past feed into this narrative. Firstly, there is the 19th-century-idea of Montenegro as a nation that was never fully conquered by the Ottomans. Secondly, there is the idea of the so-called historical “purge of the Islamic population” – a myth created by Peter the II Petrović-Njegoš in the mid-19th century. In the late 1990s, certain changes were introduced to historical textbooks, dealing away with these previously propagated national myths. In 1995, the first post-Yugoslav history textbooks came out in Montenegro, designed to represent the history of Serbia and Montenegro. In part they dealt away with these previously propagated national myths, but the a major break from this narrative occurred after 2003, when a new generation of history textbooks was developed, edited in Montenegro without collaboration with Serbia (cf. MPN RCG 2003, 47).  

In current schoolbooks, created and approved by the Ministry of Education’s Department of Education (Zavod za školstvo Crne Gore) and Department for textbooks (Zavod za udžbenike),[7] the nation-building narrative is perpetuated through an emphasis on the reign of the Petrović dynasty and WWII and the antifascist – and National Liberation – struggle. Symbols of Montenegro’s monarchist history, such as Njegoš,[8] even made it into the iconography of post-WWII socialist Yugoslav Montenegro. Indeed, the Yugoslav authorities recognized these aspects of Montenegrin history as important elements for nation-building. In fact, according to a 2016 survey, the majority of the Montenegrin population is still mostly ignorant about their country’s  pre-Njegoš, and even more so about its pre-Petrović history.

These narratives position Montenegro as a nation that went through military struggle, glorious battles and engaged in international relations with European great powers (Russia, France, Italy), managing to achieve independence and full international recognition in 1878, and was on the side of the Allies in two World Wars.  

  1. What is the dominant State-supported interpretation of the socialist Yugoslav period of Montenegrin history? 

Having participated in the Partisan National Liberation Struggle during WWII, Montenegro entered the new Socialist Yugoslavia as a federal republic on equal terms. This is an important political statement, as Montenegro did not have independence in 1918-1941. In the socialist Yugoslavia, Montenegro achieved great economic growth, was reconstructed and industrialized; it also received aid from the Yugoslav community after the 1979 earthquake. Before 1945, there were fewer than 10 industrial factories in Montenegro; after 1945, the country underwent electrification, and its number of factories increased to over 50. Furthermore, two shipping companies were established; with around 76 cargo ships, Montenegro had the greatest per capita cargo ship capacity in the entire world. All these developments were, of course, accompanied by swift urbanization, the creation of a sewage system, and a functioning healthcare service. Moreover, socialist Yugoslav authorities invested heavily in national-identity formation in Montenegro by, for example, establishing a university and an Academy of Sciences and Arts. This helps explain why the general and state-supported interpretation of the socialist Yugoslav period in Montenegrin history is still predominantly positive. Due to the backwardness of pre-1945 Montenegro, there are far fewer antagonisms regarding nationalization and denationalization in Montenegro than in, for example, Croatia and Serbia. Moreover, the end of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was accompanied by the disappearance of the local bourgeoisie and economic elite. Certain sources, for example historian Branimir Kovačević, stress that after 1945, those few major businesses that had survived the destruction of WWII, were confiscated by the state. Their owners, strongly connected to the previous regime, either did not survive the war, or were socially marginalized and fled the country shortly after 1945. While the number of such businessmen, politicians and state officials was small, their post-war disappearance still marked the end of a class that had developed in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and remained loyal to it in 1918-1945 (cf. Kovačević 1993).[9]

This is stated even bearing in mind that the controversial aspects of the socialist regime, such as the purges following the 1948 Informbiro dispute and the Soviet-Yugoslav split, which resulted in deportations of pro-Stalinist Yugoslav communists to the Goli Otok labour camp, and the lack of democracy and free speech are still widely spoken of and discussed. These discussions made it into the history textbooks in the 1990s and are common knowledge. However, a recent initiative to pass a law on compensating the victims of communist crimes was rejected by the DPS government. This sparked a heated discussion; in fact, the very topic is the most debated one when it comes to Montenegrin history; after all, Montenegro, whose League of Communists was notably pro-Stalinist, had the highest percentage of political prisoners at the Goli Otok labour camp, compared to all the other SFRY republics.

In 2019, a monument to Josip Broz Tito was erected in Podgorica. On this occasion, Voice of America asked me: “Why did you erect a monument to an authoritarian figure?” This question is difficult to answer, as, out of all the authoritarian figures, historically and presently active in Montenegrin history, many agree that he was the best one. This might be hard to comprehend for someone coming from a democratic society, but Montenegro only started to become one in 1991, its level of democracy remaining debatable to this day.

The limitation of such narratives is precisely the dominant perception that the Yugoslav past brought Montenegro great economic development, and increase in the overall quality of life, as well as low social inequality and respect for Montenegrin national identity. This is limited due to the neglect of war crimes committed by the socialist regime in the period of 1941-1945 and the months following the end of the war. In Montenegro specifically, there are not many debates about the internal conflicts during and immediately after WWII. However, ideas that originate in nationalist milieus in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia are spilling over to Montenegro; these revolve around the Yugoslav state’s failure to address issues such as the Jasenovac concentration camp,[10] and the Ustaše crimes committed against the Serbs in the Drina region in 1941-1945. Such discussions, now attached to nationalistic tensions, are imported into Montenegro; in contrast to the Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian national identity, the current Montenegrin national idea is not based on self-sacrifice and conflicts with its neighbors. It is based on the conviction that Montenegro was victorious against the Ottomans, and in WWII, and not on the notion of “the crimes that were committed against us”. However, this second set of ideas, focusing on crimes, such as Jasenovac, is gaining momentum and is harnessed by certain parts of Montenegrin society to strengthen nationalistic tensions and their own sense of national identity. Regrettably, such revisionism of this period has to do with retaliation, the goal of which is one-sided criminalization of the socialist rule in favor of nationalistic narratives. 

This does not only refer to the legacy of WWII, but also to discussions on the Yugoslav Wars. For example, in contrast to the Montenegrin community, the Serbian national community in Montenegro denies the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, out of resentment for the history of Muslim atrocities against the Orthodox population. If we talk about the Muslim community of Montenegro, the sense of victimhood that I mentioned earlier is mostly characteristic of the Bosniak community in the north of Montenegro, who has strong ties to the Sandžak region and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and not of the Muslims that identify as Montenegrins.

  1. Which sources (e.g. personal memories, literary works, films, …) do you find to be particularly important for nuancing textbook narratives and how are they utilized by cultural heritage-preservation institutions and museums? What can the impact of such sources be (could you give an example of a particularly well-executed project, exhibition, …)?

The best sources are those that help to bring to life the general atmosphere of a given time period. Personal memories have proven to have the utmost impact; given the lack of such materials in the Montenegrin context, where anthropological research of such type is still very limited, written stories or personal objects, which carry personal stories are of help. All in all, something personal which describes a bigger story, or something general which evokes personal memories – these simple principles are note generally familiar to Montenegrin schoolteachers, and are only slowly becoming incorporated by younger generations of educators who strive to make the past more accessible to young pupils. However, there is still an acute lack of systematic research initiatives that would develop research based on oral history and ethnographic methods; such projects remain pursued as personal initiatives, which are limited in scope. The Montenegrin academic system has only recently started to create capacities for such research into its recent past, and it shows that some other (post)Yugoslav states, such as Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia have a longer and more established tradition in this domain. The Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts has only now published its first comprehensive Lexicons, on Montenegrin diplomacy, on its writers and poets … currently, this is the state’s level of interest in history, and not the collection of the aforementioned source materials. I began working for Montenegro’s National Museum in 2011; by that time, it had been digitizing its collection of archival materials since 1998. Interestingly, in all this time, they had only managed to digitize 5 % of their collection. However, they have made amazing progress over the past decade; I left the team in 2017, but a younger team of experts has since been involved in the project, and it is near completion. Nevertheless, challenges remain. The absence of museum-studies programs in Montenegro means that our curators are either professionals in other fields who are self-taught museum workers, or they need to get the appropriate education abroad, which was my case. Another issue is the lack of personnel in museums who would focus on attracting European funding through mechanisms such as Creative Europe – as institutions other than Ministries remain focused on addressing long-standing organizational, internal challenges, this aspect of museum management remains undernourished.

The described situation poses quite some challenges for museum curators. The majority of museums’ curatorial policies in Montenegro still prefer focusing on what are perceived to be the positive aspects of the nation’s past. For instance, in 2014-2015, the National Museum received generous funding for an exhibition of ballroom dresses of Montenegrin princesses – such topics are perceived as possessing public appeal.

However, we have succeeded in updating the permanent collection on modern history, attempting to apply solutions supported by current museum scholarship. For example, trying to make the period of the “Informbiro period” following the 1948 Soviet-Yugoslav split, more accessible to the high-school pupils, we used a leather coat as a prop. Such coats were worn by police officers who took people to Goli Otok. A previous collaboration granted us access to two testimonials – one by a woman whose father had been taken to Goli Otok, and another by a woman whose grandfather was among the special officers who took people there. The coat, as the students were shown, symbolized sadness and fear to the first subject, but it was a symbol of patriotism, an elite lifestyle, and modernity to the second one. It should be mentioned that both interviewees’ grandparents had been in the Partisan National Liberation Struggle (NOR) movement during the Second World War. This intervention was used as a discussion opener, with groups of 14- and 18-year-old students. I would not say it changed their overall opinion about this historical period, but it certainly pushed them to consider it in a more complex way. We also wanted to use the iconic Fićo (Zastava 750) car in a similar say, to exemplify the polyvalence of memory, but unfortunately, we did not manage to actually implement this idea, as the museum floor was not reliable enough to hold the mass of the car. Logistics aside, this car is great for museum exhibitions. [11] As one of the first mass-produced cars in Yugoslavia, it tells a lot about the life of the Yugoslav middle and working classes. From manufacturing to design, it gives an insight into the Yugoslav economy and is useful for evoking personal memories, and invoking moments of the Yugoslav working class. It also presents a connection to the first years of mass tourism in that era, which was considered by the Yugoslav population as one of the symbols of the country’s self-perceived general prosperity.

The museum’s new curatorial team has also succeeded in organizing several exhibitions on socially-engaged topics, such as the history of the Montenegrin healthcare system, consolidated in the 1950s, with massive social support. This exhibition stressed the eradication of malaria and cholera from Montenegro in the 1950s in order to present a counterargument to current anti-vaccine movements, which question the legitimacy of the national healthcare system.

Moreover, in 2018, the National Museum held a series of anniversary-lectures, foregrounding the dissolution of the Kingdom of Montenegro and the end of WWI in 1918, the aftermath of WWII and the Yugoslav-Soviet rupture of 1948, the student protests of 1968 – such initiatives are cost-effective ways of attracting the public in the absence of funding for technologically advanced exhibitions.

In 2019, the Museum organized a rather successful exhibition on the centenary of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Like all the Museum’s projects, this exhibition was put together by a local team of four curators and two researchers, with the help of additional texts provided by several regional scholars. While the National Museum always inquires the University of Montenegro’s History Institute about collaboration in such cases, the response is not always enthusiastic, as scholars often prefer to remain within more conventional channels of academic science communication. I have repeatedly voiced this concern about the need to improve the public dissemination of scientific output, which for now often remains disconnected from society at large – it takes decades for research to find its way into history schoolbooks.

  1. The state archive is a very important institution for memory research. How is the archival system in Montenegro organized? Do you feel that it reflects a particular memory politics?

The archives in Montenegro form an organized system, comprising the central National Archive in Cetinje,[12] and local subordinated subdivisions in municipal centers. The main units which are of priority to researchers are the National Archive in Cetinje and the second largest archival unit in Podgorica. However, not all archival collections are centralized in the archival system; some are kept at the National Library, in the Library division of the National Museum and at the Library of the Institute of History.

Cetinje was the administrative center of Montenegro within the Montenegrin administrative unit (banovina) in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1941). After 1945, all the administrative infrastructure was gradually moved to Podgorica, aside from cultural institutions that remained in Cetinje. Many museums, as well as the Arts and Music Academies and the National Library and the National Archive remained in Cetinje. At the same time, as the History Institute of the University of Montenegro was established in Podgorica, rationality dictated that the Podgorica unit of the National Archive hold the collections considered to be of particular importance to historians, such as the collection of sources on the workers’ movement – these sources have been collected since 1918 –  and on the local Partisan movement – this archive has been kept since 1945. In short: most of the materials related to the political, economic and social history of the socialist Yugoslav regime are in the Podgorica archival unit. Archiving media texts, such as film and photographs, is problematic; for example, the Montenegrin Cinematheque – Film Archive is in charge of the film archives, but this institution was only established in 2000; previously, Montenegrin film heritage was archived in the Yugoslav Cinematheque in Belgrade.[13] A massive collection of various photographs from the post-1945 period curiously ended up in the Presidency after the post-1991 transformation of state institutions. It is being digitized, but remains under the authority of the Presidency.

Another remarkable unit is the Archive in the coastal town of Kotor, once an important political and trade center, rivalling Dubrovnik. Unlike other Montenegrin coastal towns, it was never under Ottoman rule and did not undergo systematic destruction; due to this city’s particular history, Kotor’s archive includes a rich medieval collection.

All these particularities of the archives of Montenegro demonstrate in which ways certain materials are preserved and researched first, both due to memory politics and the researchers’ particular interests. Thus far,  the  diplomatic and military history of the Principality and Kingdom of Montenegro have received the most attention, due to the state’s interest in the history of the Petrović dynasty, recognized as being of particular national significance. A recent interesting project on this history includes research into the education system, but many other social-historical topics, such as health, banking, the infrastructure of the postal service etc. remain to be dug into through collections that have yet to be sorted in order to become accessible. I had to deal with such a case during my time as an associate of the National Museum; it took several years to classify and store 10.000 archival items related to the Museum’s collection of WWII photographs – the major issue was that the materials had not been documented in a systematic way and certain information was practically untraceable.

  1. From these different interpretations, could you notice different memory narratives on the Yugoslav monarchy, first Yugoslavia? How do these differences feed into contemporary memory narratives in Montenegro?

The narrative of the Yugoslav monarchy and of the first Yugoslavia has always been neglected, overshadowed by the history of the Kingdom of Montenegro or the history of socialist Montenegro. This is predominantly because Montenegro did not exist as a separate political unit within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. This period (1918-1941) is mostly ignored in public discourse because of the generally negative evaluation of the Kingdom of Montenegro’s loss of independence in 1918. Its integration into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was soon followed by the Christmas Uprising, public outrage at the loss of independence, which was violently suppressed by the Serbian military. At this point, the Kingdom of Montenegro was still an internationally recognized state, its leadership was even invited to attend the Versailles conference in Paris. Montenegrin participation at the conference was, however, blocked.[14] To this day, the dominant interpretation of these events in Montenegro is that the country was betrayed by the Allies, wiped off the face of the globe because someone in France decided to create the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, where there was no room for Montenegro as a political entity.

In this light, three interpretations have been developed. Firstly, there is the Montenegrin national narrative, which criticizes this period of Montenegrin national history as completely negative. This negative evaluation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia is supported by narratives developed during the socialist Yugoslav period. This simplification is further complicated by the fact that the monarchist Yugoslav period of Montenegrin history is ignored by local historians as a research topic, in favor of the Ottoman and the socialist Yugoslav periods. One of the few issues from this period that are included in schoolbooks is the struggle of the Communist League. Today, as Montenegro is making efforts to portray its history in an increasingly nationalist perspective, this period is problematic as it remains under-researched in this respect. The simplest way to overcome the lack of research for the purposes of schoolbooks is to disregard this part of history as unequivocally negative, which is not entirely accurate. It must be noted that the Montenegrin upheaval that had begun in 1918 lasted into the late 1920s, accompanied and fueled by the general economic crisis plaguing the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and its side-products, such as famine. The 1930s then involved mass prosecutions of the members of the Communist Party. Because of the coincidence of these two narratives, which are difficult to reconcile, the simplest popular solution is to discredit the entire period as negative.

At the same time, there exists the Serbian nationalist narrative which praises this same period of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as a glorious state, which brought about a capitalist and cultural renaissance. Indeed, in the 1930s, however, Montenegro witnessed an unprecedented development of its civic sector, including a surge in film-theatre openings, book-club launches, political campaigns, and construction projects. This interpretation has lately received increasing support of the Serbian mass media.

Over the recent years, a new, third wave of interpretation has emerged which considers the national and economic problems during this period, while also accounting for the birth and development of new political ideas and civic movements. Overall, the dominant contemporary narrative of this period in Montenegro oscillates between the negativist and this third, reflective interpretation.

  1. What are the main points of debate in academic, political, and popular interpretations of WWII, the creation of socialist Yugoslavia, and Montenegro’s role in it?

This debate mainly revolves around the accusations, validation and criticism – or lack of criticism – of crimes committed by different local war factions during the War, in 1941-1945. In Montenegro, WWII involved the Yugoslav Partisan National Liberation Struggle, which was also a struggle against the local Chetniks – who were a more extreme faction than the ones in Serbia –, the Muslim militia, the Albanian Ballists, and the Montenegrin Greens, a local nationalist faction. All the factions except the Partisans were collaborationists, and, as anti-communist forces, received Italian and later also German support; at the same time, all these factions were in conflict with one another, as well as with the Partisans. All the sides involved in the war had committed atrocities. However, the 1945-1947 Commission for War Crimes only documented the crimes of the collaborationist factions. There has never been any debate about the Partisans’ crimes, as they were scarcely documented; this lack of transparency and of scientifically researched, verified information creates space for manipulation. The Montenegrin government nevertheless hasn’t initiated any kind of research on these questions related to wartime and post-war atrocities. At the same time, Serbian nationalists in Montenegro, with the support of the Serbian Orthodox Church, keep bringing up these crimes, while the government ignores them, hoping that the fact that the crimes of the nationalist factions were more severe will eventually put an end to these allegations.

Moreover, there is currently a discussion between the Montenegrin civic sector and the government. Organizations such as the Human Rights Action NGO are pleading for the introduction of a law on retributions for the victims of communist crimes, such as the Goli Otok persecutions of Stalinist Communists after the Informbiro Yugoslav-Soviet split. Should this law be passed, it will lead to thorough investigations of the archives of the Yugoslav secret services in Montenegro. The current government is trying to prevent this from happening, preferring not to open up more historical controversies. Its overall argument is that it is acknowledged that such crimes were committed, and that a square in Podgorica is named after their victims, the vast majority of whom are no longer alive.

  1. What are the specificities of Montenegrin Yugonostalgia? How is it reflected in personal narratives, in activist initiatives, and official interpretations of the Yugoslav past? 

The main specificities of Montenegrin Yugonostalgia are the permanent quiet resistance against aggressive nationalist revisionism, which spills over from the neighboring states, such as Serbia and BiH. The Montenegrin assessment of the socialist Yugoslav past remains predominantly  focused on its positive impact on local socio-economic development; nationalist revisions of this narrative result from uncritical appropriations of nationalist revisions of history in the aforementioned neighboring states, catering to the rise of nationalism in the minority Serbian, Bosnian and Albanian communities in Montenegro. Currently, these narratives do not have remarkable political reverberations. Rather, they sometimes produce very paradoxical results: for example, Serbian right-wing nationalists may criticize the Partisans, but still attend the 9 May Victory Day Parade in Moscow. The descendants of Montenegrin Chetniks were extremely pro-American in the 1960s-1980s, supporting US anticommunism. Now, they are pro-Russian with equal vigour, emphasizing Russia’s status as a bastion of Orthodox Christianity and anti-globalism; these examples show that, in politics, history and academic argument often give way to nationalist and religious ideas.

Although we can talk about Montenegrin nationalism, it is extremely weak, and, unlike Serbian, Bosnian and Albanian nationalisms, does not antagonize communism. Accordingly, the majority of the 600 monuments and statues celebrating and commemorating the Partisan National Liberation Struggle have been preserved, July 13th is still the main national holiday,[15] and the names of Partisan heroes have not been removed from schools or streets, with rare exceptions, where their names were assigned to different streets. The Partisan legacy is significant for the official interpretation of the Yugoslav past due to the constant promotion of the antifascist heritage of Montenegro as the basis of its multiculturalism and interethnic tolerance. At the same time, Yugonostalgia on the level of contemporary popular culture emerges from personal narratives and initiatives, choirs and popular music groups, such as Kids’ Pop Choir, popularizing Partisan song, and socialist lifestyle, in the sense of a subculture, popularizing Yugoslav popular culture of the 1960s-1980s. One of the main commercial radio stations is still called Radio Titograd.

  1. Which groups or initiatives in Montenegro would you call mnemonic agents or even memory activists? Which are favored by media outlets?

The top-down, government-supported memory politics in Montenegro is still in the process of self-development. It still oscillates between two conceptions of statehood: the nation-based narrative of the Kingdom of Montenegro and the narrative of a citizen-based nation (as proclaimed in the Constitution), based on the antifascist heritage of 1945. While the two narratives share some of the same values, they are also dissonant.

A home-grown Montenegrin nationalist memory politics has begun to gain momentum fairly recently, due to increasing governmental support. As the declaration of independence in 2006 was not followed by a surge in living standards, the government gradually began to support nationalist interpretations of the past to retain its authority, including the victimization-interpretation of 1918, as the year of international betrayal of the Kingdom of Montenegro. If Montenegrin national identity was initially conceived on the basis of the idea of multiculturalism and tolerance to all national identifications, 1918 is currently increasingly harnessed to proclaim: “Never again 1918! Never again will we fall victim to Serbian nationalism!”. This points to a worrisome tendency, as a “one state – one nation” narrative is not sustainable in our context, nor is supported by the Montenegrin constitution. Nationalist narratives on Montenegrin (national) identity enable the proliferation of similar narratives by other national groups in Montenegro, which undermines the citizen-based state-model. In addition, narratives on Montenegrin identity and its history are often misused by political stakeholders for the sole purpose of short-term political gain. Symptomatically, two years ago, an argument ensued between the Croatian and Montenegrin governments, on intangible heritage in the Bay of Kotor, as the Montenegrin government filed a nomination to include the Boka Navy — the oldest naval institution in the world — on the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This resulted in outrage of the local Croatian community, whose instrumental role in the naval tradition was ignored in the application, and of the Croatian government. The 2018 Montenegrin-Croatian negotiations on the possibility of a joint nomination failed, and Montenegro filed the application as initially intended.

The SPC is the main adversary of both outlined narratives on Montenegrin identity, as it views Montenegro as one of the “Serbian lands”, and Montenegrins as part of the Serbian national corpus. As such, the SPC is the main threat to the future development of both a narrative on Montenegrin national identity, and of a citizen-based memory narrative on local history, which would incorporate all ethnic groups and religions present in Montenegro. The SPC is also the main stakeholder in Montenegro that makes tremendous efforts as a memory activist, promoting pro-Serbian nationalist historical revisionism. Over the past decade, it has accepted that Montenegro has become an independent state, but it still treats its Christian population as a part of the broader Serbian national corpus. This last ideological, sociological and economic bastion of the pro-Serbian national idea in Montenegro persistently amplifies the described beliefs about the proximity of Serbia and Montenegro in its various activities, from preaching to other public events. Moreover, it considers Montenegrin Christian cultural heritage as Serbian cultural heritage, which means that it has retained possession and control of the country’s monasteries. Over the past three decades, it has actively contributed to transforming intangible cultural heritage in Montenegro, adapting churches and monasteries to appear more consistent with its pro-Serbian narrative. The design of Orthodox churches visibly reflects regional influences; the Serbian Orthodox Church, however, ignores international and national norms of heritage preservation and invests in reshaping the exterior and interior of Orthodox churches in Montenegro to resemble the ones in Serbia; the same principle is applied to all new churches built in the country. Despite the outrage of designers, architects and historians, the Montenegrin government has thus far tolerated such practices, hoping that this will help preserve national peace. In 2019, however, a new law on religious freedom was passed in the Montenegrin parliament, intended to put an end to such interventions in heritage; this triggered loud protests of the SPC.[16]

  1. Given that the interview will be published in a Russian journal, another question remains relevant. What is the public discourse towards the Russian Federation, on one hand, and USSR on the other hand, today? Are there key Russian figures prominent in Montenegrin memory narratives, such as Stalin and maybe some others?

Russia has always been considered a long-term political, military and cultural ally of Montenegro. In 2011 Montenegro celebrated 300 years of bilateral relations with Russia. At that point the government emphasized the importance of favorable relations between the largest and the smallest Slavic nation. As Montenegro first declared to join NATO at the beginning of its independence quest, political relations deteriorated, which eventually led to a shift in political discourse and the general public attitude towards Russia. The latter had been predominantly positive from Peter the Great’s rule in the early 18th century, and tied to the idea of Christian resistance against Ottoman rule, sponsored generously by the Russian Empire. This attitude reverberated in the cultural domain, as examples from Russian culture, such as case studies in Russian literature were generously included into Montenegrin primary and high-school curricula.

Today, the official and public opinion of Russia remains generally favorable, but some efforts are made to nuance the stereotypes outlined above. Some efforts are detectable to cast the narrative about the three centuries of positive relations in a nuanced, complex light. Russian aid to Montenegro during the 18th and 19th century is now increasingly re-interpreted as Russian political gain and the results of businesslike partnership, rather than unconditional support and love, which was the norm until Montenegro’s declaration of independence.

The Soviet Union is still considered as the main contributor, victor and victim of WWII. Great admiration for Russia and Russian culture persist in Montenegro; at the 80th anniversary of the beginning of WWII, the Montenegrin President publicly criticized the fact that Russian President Putin had not been invited to the event. At the same time, there is an increasingly critical assessment of Stalinism and of the post-Stalinist era; moreover, the positive sentiments are endangered due to Russia’s unconditional support to pro-Serbian and extremely conservative groups.



Bieber, Florian. 2010. The party system of Montenegro. In V. Stojarova and P. Emerson (eds.), Party Politics in the Western Balkans, pp. 119–130. Abingdon: Routledge.

Džankić, Jelena, and Soeren Keil. 2017. State-sponsored Populism and the Rise of Populist Governance: The Case of Montenegro. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 19 (4): 403–418. DOI:10.1080/19448953.2017.1280981.

Maksimović, Sandra. 2020. Montenegrin Law on Religious Freedom: Polarization that benefits the government(s)? European Western Balkans, 13.01.2020. Available at: (20.7.2020).

Gallagher, Tom. 2003. Identity in Flux, Destination Uncertain: Montenegro during and after the Yugoslav Wars. International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 17 (1), Studies in the Social History of Destruction: The Case of Yugoslavia (Fall, 2003): 53-71.

Kovačević, Branislav. 1993. Od vezirovog do zidanog mosta - Tragična sudbina crnogorskih četnika u završnoj fazi rata 1944-1945. Beograd: Službeni list SRJ.

Lukic, Reneo. 2001. The Withering Away of the Federal Republic of Yougoslavia. Nato Academic Forum. Available at: (15.06.2020).

Marović, Jovana. 2019. Déjà vu, Montenegrin style: Milo Đukanović wins Montenegro’s presidential election. LSE European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) Blog (2019). Available at: (15.6.2020)

Ministarstvo prosvjete i nauke Crna Gora. 2003. Strateški plan reforme obrazovanja 2002-2004. Podgorica: MPN RCG. Available at: (25.8. 2020)

Morrison, Kenneth. 2018. Nationalism, Identity and Statehood in Post-Yugoslav Montenegro. London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Pavlović, Srđa. 2016. Montenegro’s ‘stabilitocracy’: The West’s support of Đukanović is damaging the prospects of democratic change. LSE European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) Blog (2016). Available at:Đukanović%20is%20damaging%20the%20prospects%20of%20democratic%20cha.pdf. (15.6.2020).

Saggau, Emil Hilton. 2017. A Shrine for the Nation: The Material Transformation of the Lovćen Site in Montenegro. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 2017. DOI: 10.1080/19448953.2018.1385934.

Stojanović, Dubravka. 2016. The crossed swords of memory: the image of communist Yugoslavia in the textbooks of its successor states. European Politics and Society, 2016. DOI: 10.1080/23745118.2016.1269440.

Vachudova, Milada Anna. From Competition to Polarization in Central Europe: How Populists Change Party Systems and the European Union. Polity 51 (4): 689–706.


[1] All references to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo. It is important to note that in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Kosovo had the status of an autonomous province, while the other six states had a status of a republic. (Editors' note.)

[2] Negotiations on the SAA (Stabilisation and Association Agreement) began in 2006, and the agreement was signed in 2007, entering into force in 2010. (Editors' note.)

[3] The percentages of Serbs and Montenegrins revealed through state censuses (in the table below) have varied by over 20 % since the 1980s, seeing a gradual increase of the percentage of Serbs from 9 % in 1991 to 29% in 2011, and a decrease of the Montenegrin percentage (62 % in 1991, 45% in 2011). Rather than migration patterns, this trend  reflects a correlation of the population’s ethnic identification with current identity politics. (Editors’ note.)


census 1948

census 1953

census 1961

census 1971

census 1981

census 1991

census 2003

census 2011



















































[4] The Great National Assembly of the Serb People in Montenegro (Podgorica Assembly) culminated on 29 November 1918.25 Those in favour of union with Serbia printed their list of candidates and their agenda on white paper, while supporters of continued Montenegrin independence printed theirs on green paper. The terms Whites and Greens thus came to symbolize those either in favor of union or those in favor of the preservation of Montenegro’s independence, a loose union with Serbia or, at the very least, the preservation of a Montenegrin ‘entity’ within the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. A slim majority, however, voted in favor of Montenegro unifying with Serbia  under the Karadjordjević dynasty and to depose King Nikola I Petrović-Njegoš and his dynasty. After the Assembly of Podgorica, the Great National Assembly announced the formal unification of Serbia and Montenegro. Following these proclamations, both Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia followed suit; the Kingdom of Serbs Croats and Slovenes, later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was declared on 1 December 1918. (Morrison 2018, 26-27) (Editors' note.)

[5] See CCE publications for more details on Montenegrin history textbooks and the contemporary challenges of teaching antifascism. (Author’s note.)

[6] These arguments, elaborated below, revolve around property issues and heritage; the SPC maintains that it has rights over religious buildings such as medieval monasteries and churches, which the Montenegrin state considers its own asset. (Author’s note.)

[7] Importantly, in Montenegro, only one official textbook per subject is approved for use in schools. (Vukanović, this interview).

[8] Romantic poet Petar II Petrovich-Njegoš (1813–1851) was the fifth vladika (secular and religious ruler of the region) of the Petrovich-Njegoš clan in 1830. Central to Njegoš’ epic is a heroic and poetic image of the Montenegrin tribesmen as protagonists of the folkloric myth of the struggle of the medieval Christian Serbian kingdom against the Ottomans. Njegoš also connects his heroic clansmen and their struggle with his own time, most notably attributing the epic to the contemporary leader of the Serbian uprising (1815-1817) within Ottoman-controlled Serbia. Njegoš does not seem to have distinguished clearly between the terms ‘Montenegrin’ (Crnogorski) and ‘Serbian’ (Srpski) in his works, leaving room for interpretation; his epic and construction of a national identity have subsequently been claimed by Montenegrin, Serbian and Yugoslav nationalists. (Saggau 2017, 15). (Editors' note.)

[9] Nationalization of private property, nevertheless, did not leave families hungry, as Kovačević himself confirms in his study, warning about false information about Communist retaliation, spread by Chetnik propagada. More about the final battles in the WWII in Montenegro can be found in Milan Radanović's book "Kazna i zločin. Snage kolaboracije u Srbiji: odgovornost za ratne zločine (1941-1944) i vojni gubici (1944-1945)", Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Beograd, 2016. The elites Vukanović herewith makes reference to actually participated, directly or indirectly, in the collaborationist Chetnik movement. More on the Chetnik movement in Montenegro can also be found in Dr Radoje Pajović’s study "Kontrarevolucija u Crnoj Gori - Četnički i federalistički pokret 1941-1945", published in 1977. (Editors’ note.)

[10] Jasenovac was a concentration and extermination camp established in Slavonia by the authorities of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during World War II. One of the ten largest concentration camps in Europe, it was established and operated by the governing Ustaše regime – the only quisling regime in occupied Europe to operate extermination camps on their own for Jews, Serbs, Roma, and other ethnic groups. (Editors’ note.)

[11] This particular solution is, however, used in the Slovenian collection on Yugoslav history at the Museum of Contemporary History in Ljubljana. (Author's note.)

[12] The historical capital of Montenegro until 1918, when it was replaced by Podgorica (renamed as Titograd in SFRY). (Editors’ note.)

[13] The Yugoslav Cinematheque in Belgrade was in charge of preserving film heritage of the entire SFRY. (Editors’ note.)

[14] In January 1919, a Montenegrin government-in-exile was formed; the main objective of the government was to internationalize the issue of Montenegro, appeal to the Great Powers during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, maintain links between the government-in-exile and armed resistance groups in Montenegro and create an army-in-exile. But the course of events undermined their cause. During the Paris Peace Conference, which opened in January 1919, Montenegro was ‘the empty chair’, treated, according to Warren Whitney, akin to a ‘conquered nation instead of an ally that had entered the war at once and made every sacrifice for the common cause’ and its exiled rulers (the Montenegrin government-in-exile, based in Italy) observing developments from a distance. (Morrison 2018, 8). (Editors' note.)

[15] 13 July is a symbolic date in Montenegrin history in two respects. It is celebrated as the anniversary of the 13 July 1941 uprising against Italian fascist forces organized by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Additionally, 13 July is Montenegrin Statehood Day, commemorating 13 July 1878 on which the Berlin Congress recognized the Kingdom of Montenegro as the twenty-seventh independent state in the world. (Editors’ note.)

[16] The disputed law came into force January 8. According to its Article 62, religious communities in Montenegro need to prove property ownership before 1918, otherwise the property will belong to the state of Montenegro. The Serbian Orthodox Church must therefore prove ownership of all monasteries and churches built before December 1, 1918, when Montenegro became a part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. (Maksimović 2020) (Editors' note.)


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