Montenegro ( or ; or ; Montenegrin: Црна Гора / Crna Gora , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Kosovo to the east, Serbia to the northeast, and Albania to the south-east. Its capital and largest city is Podgorica, while Cetinje is designated as the Prijestonica, meaning the former Royal Capital City.
In the 9th century, there existed three Serbs principalities on the territory of Montenegro: Duklja, roughly corresponding to the southern half, Travunia, the west, and Rascia, the north. In 1042, archon Stefan Vojislav led a revolt that resulted in the independence of Duklja and the establishment of the Vojislavljević dynasty. Duklja reached its zenith under Vojislav's son, Mihailo (1046–81), and his grandson Bodin (1081–1101). By the 13th century, Zeta had replaced Duklja when referring to the realm. In the late 14th century, southern Montenegro (Zeta) came under the rule of the Balšić noble family, then the Crnojević noble family, and by the 15th century, Zeta was more often referred to as Crna Gora (Venetian: ). Large portions fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire from 1496 to 1878. Parts were controlled by Venice. From 1515 until 1851 the prince-bishops (vladikas) of Cetinje were the rulers. The House of Petrović-Njegoš ruled until 1918. From 1918, it was a part of Yugoslavia. On the basis of an independence referendum held on 21 May 2006, Montenegro declared independence on 3 June of that year.
Classified by the World Bank as a middle-income country, Montenegro is a member of the UN, the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe, the Central European Free Trade Agreement and a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean. Montenegro also is a candidate for joining the European Union and NATO.
Pliny, Appian and Ptolemy mentioned the Docleatae as living in the maritime region, holding the town of Doclea (old Podgorica). In 9 AD the Romans conquered the region. Slavs colonized the area in the 6th century, and had by the 10th century formed a semi-independent principality called Duklja in suzerainty to the Byzantine Empire.
Duklja gained its independence from the Byzantine Roman Empire in 1042. Over the next few decades, it expanded its territory to neighbouring Rascia and Bosnia and also became recognised as a kingdom. Its power started declining at the beginning of the 12th century. After King Bodin's death(in 1101 or 1108) several civil wars ensued. As the nobility fought for the throne the kingdom was weakened and by 1186 it was conquered by Stefan Nemanja and incorporated into Serbian realm as a province named Zeta. After the Serbian Empire collapsed in the second half of the 14th century, the most powerful Zetan family, the Balšićs, became sovereigns of Zeta.
In 1421, Zeta was annexed to the Serbian Despotate but after 1455 another noble family from Zeta, the Crnojevićs, became sovereign rulers of the country, making it the last free monarchy of the Balkans before it fell to the Ottomans in 1496, and got annexed to the sanjak of Shkodër. During the reign of Crnojevićs Zeta became known under its current name – Montenegro. For a short time Montenegro existed as a separate autonomous sanjak in 1514–1528, another version of which existed again between 1597 and 1614.
Ottoman rule and Metropolitanate
In the 16th century Montenegro developed a form of unique autonomy within the Ottoman Empire with Montenegrin clans being free from certain restrictions. Nevertheless the Montenegrins refused to accept Ottoman rule and in the 17th century raised numerous rebellions, culminating with the defeat of the Ottomans in the Great Turkish War at the end of that century.
Montenegro became a theocracy led by the Metropolitans, flourishing since the Petrović-Njegoš became the traditional prince-bishops (whose title was "Vladika of Montenegro"). The Venetian Republic introduced governors that meddled in Montenegrin politics; when the republic was succeeded by the Austrian Empire in 1797, the governors were abolished by Prince-Bishop Petar II in 1832. His predecessor Petar I contributed to the unification of Montenegro with the Highlands.
Principality of Montenegro
Under Nicholas I, the Principality was enlarged several times in the Montenegro-Turkish Wars and was recognised as independent in 1878. Under the rule of Nicholas I, diplomatic relations were established with the Ottoman Empire. Minor border skirmishes excepted, diplomacy ushered in approximately 30 years of peace between the two states until the deposition of Abdul Hamid II.
The political skills of Abdul Hamid and Nicholas I played a major role on the mutually amicable relations. Modernization of the state followed, culminating with the draft of a Constitution in 1905. However, political rifts emerged between the reigning People's Party that supported the process of democratization and union with Serbia and those of the True People's Party who were monarchist.
During this period, one of the major Montenegrin victories over the Ottomans occurred at the Battle of Grahovac. Grand Duke Mirko Petrović, elder brother of Knjaz Danilo, led an army of 7,500 and defeated the numerically superior Ottomans who had 13,000 troops at Grahovac on 1 May 1858. The glory of Montenegrin victory was soon immortalized in the songs and literature of all the South Slavs, in particular the Montenegrins in Vojvodina, then part of Austria-Hungary. This forced the Great Powers to officially demarcate the borders between Montenegro and Ottoman Empire, de facto recognizing Montenegro's independence. Montenegro's independence was recognized by Ottoman Empire at Treaty of Berlin in 1878.
The first Montenegrin constitution was proclaimed in 1855; it was also known as the Danilo Code.
Kingdom of Montenegro (1910–1918)
In 1910 Montenegro became a Kingdom and as a result of the Balkan wars in 1912 and 1913 (in which the Ottomans lost all Balkan land), a common border with Serbia was established, with Shkodër being awarded to a newly created Albania, even though the current capital city of Montenegro, Podgorica was the old border of Albania and Yugoslavia. In World War I in 1914 Montenegro sided with Serbia against the Central Powers, suffering a full-scale defeat to Austria-Hungary in early 1916. In 1918 the Allies liberated Montenegro, which was subsequently merged with Serbia.
Unification and Christmas Uprising
During World War I (1914–1918) Montenegro was allied with the Allied Powers. From 15 January 1916 to October 1918, Montenegro was occupied by Austria-Hungary. During occupation, King Nicholas fled first to Italy and then to France, and the government transferred its operations to Bordeaux. When the Allies liberated Montenegro, the Podgorica Assembly was convened and voted to ban the king from returning and to unite the country with the Kingdom of Serbia on 1 December 1918. In the Christmas Uprising, a large part of the Montenegrin population, known as the Greens, rebelled against this decision to unify with Serbia and, led by captain Krsto Zrnov Popović, fought against the pro-unification forces, Whites.
The royal family was rehabilitated in 2011 by the government, and today is headed by Crown Prince Nicholas II who has his own foundation.
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
In 1922 Montenegro formally became the "Oblast of Cettinje" of the Zeta Area in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, with the addition of the coastal areas around Budva and Bay of Kotor. In a successive restructuring, in 1929 it became a part of a larger Zeta Banate of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia that reached the Neretva River.
Nicholas's grandson, the Serb King Alexander I dominated the Yugoslav government. Zeta Banovina was one of nine bannovinas which formed the Kingdom and was named after the Serbian Medieval Principality Zeta. It consisted of the present-day Montenegro and parts of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia.
World War II
In April 1941, Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy and other Axis allies attacked and occupied Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Italian forces occupied Montenegro and established it as a puppet Kingdom of Montenegro.
13 July uprising
During May, the Montenegrin branch of Communist Party of Yugoslavia started preparations for the uprising planned for mid-July. The Communist Party and its Youth League organised 6000 of its members into detachments prepared for guerrilla warfare.
The uprising in Montenegro against Italian occupation broke out on 13 July 1941. Unexpectedly, the uprising took sway and by 20 July 32,000 men and women joined the fight. Beside the coast and major towns (Podgorica, Cetinje, Pljevlja and Nikšić), which were besieged, Montenegro was mostly liberated. In a month of fighting the Italian army had 5000 dead, wounded and captured.
The uprising lasted until mid-August, when it was suppressed by a counter-offensive numbering 67,000 Italian troops brought in from Albania. Faced with new and overwhelming Italian forces, many of the fighters lay down their arms and returned home. Despite that, intense guerrilla fighting lasted until December.
Fighters who remained under arms fractured into two groups. Most of them went on to join the Yugoslav Partisans, consisting of communists and those inclined towards active resistance. Those loyal to the Karađorđević dynasty and opposing communism went on to become Chetniks, and turned to collaboration with Italians against the Partisans.
War broke out between Partisans and Chetniks during the first half of 1942. Pressured by Italians and Chetniks the core of the Montenegrin Partisans left to Serbia and Bosnia where they joined with other Yugoslav Partisans. Fighting between Partisans and Chetniks continued through the war. Chetniks with Italian backing controlled most of the country from mid-1942 to April 1943. Montenegrin Chetniks received the status of "anti-communist militia" and received weapons, ammunition, food rations and salaries from Italy. Most of them were moved to Mostar where they participated in the Battle of Neretva against the Partisans but were dealt a heavy defeat.
During the German operation Schwartz against the Partisans in May and June 1943, Germans disarmed large number of Chetniks without fighting as they feared they would turn against them in case of an Allied invasion of the Balkans. After the capitulation of Italy in September 1943, Partisans managed to take hold of most of Montenegro for a brief time, but Montenegro was soon occupied by German forces and fierce fighting continued during late 1943 and entire 1944. Montenegro was liberated by the Partisans in December 1944.
Montenegro within Socialist Yugoslavia
Montenegro, like the rest of the Yugoslavia, was liberated by the Yugoslav Partisans in 1944. The second uprising in Nazi-occupied Europe happened on 13 July 1941 in Montenegro, when Montenegrins stood up against the fascists and joined Communist partisans. Notable Partisans from Montenegro include Arso Jovanović, Sava Kovačević, Svetozar Vukmanović-Tempo, Milovan Đilas, Peko Dapčević, Vlado Dapčević, Veljko Vlahović, Blažo Jovanović, Jovo Kapičić and Ivan Milutinović. Montenegro became a constituent of the six republics of the communist Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), its capital became Podgorica renamed Titograd in honour of President Josip Broz Tito. After the war, the infrastructure of Yugoslavia was rebuilt, industrialization began and the University of Montenegro was established. Greater autonomy was established until the Socialist Republic of Montenegro ratified a new constitution 1974.
Dissolution of Socialist Yugoslavia and forming of FR Yugoslavia
After the dissolution of the SFRY in 1992, Montenegro remained part of a smaller Federal Republic of Yugoslavia along with Serbia.
In the referendum on remaining in Yugoslavia in 1992, the turnout was 66% with 96% of the votes cast in favour of the federation with Serbia. The referendum was boycotted by the Muslim, Albanian and Catholic minorities as well as the pro-independence Montenegrins. The opponents claimed that the poll was organized under anti-democratic conditions with widespread propaganda from the state-controlled media in favour of a pro-federation vote. There is no impartial report on the fairness of the referendum, as it was unmonitored, unlike in 2006 when European Union observers were present.
During the 1991–1995 Bosnian War and Croatian War, Montenegrin police and military forces joined Serbian troops in the attacks on Dubrovnik, Croatia. These operations, aimed at acquiring more territory, were characterized by a consistent pattern of large-scale violations of human rights.
Montenegrin General Pavle Strugar was convicted for his part in the bombing of Dubrovnik. Bosnian refugees were arrested by Montenegrin police and transported to Serb camps in Foča, where they were subjected to systematic torture and executed.
In 1996, Milo Đukanović's government severed ties between Montenegro and the Serbian regime, which was then under Slobodan Milošević. Montenegro formed its own economic policy and adopted the German Deutsche Mark as its currency and subsequently adopted the Euro, although not part of the Eurozone currency union. Subsequent governments have pursued pro-independence policies and political tensions with Serbia simmered despite the political changes in Belgrade. Targets in Montenegro were bombed by NATO forces during Operation Allied Force in 1999, although the extent of these attacks was very limited in both time and area affected.
In 2002, Serbia and Montenegro came to a new agreement regarding continued cooperation and entered into negotiations regarding the future status of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 2003, the Yugoslav federation was replaced in favour of a more decentralized state union named Serbia and Montenegro.
The status of the union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by a referendum on Montenegrin independence on 21 May 2006. A total of 419,240 votes were cast, representing 86.5% of the total electorate. 230,661 votes (55.5%) were for independence and 185,002 votes (44.5%) were against. The 45,659 difference narrowly surpassed the 55% threshold needed to validate the referendum under the rules set by the European Union. According to the electoral commission, the 55% threshold was passed by only 2,300 votes. Serbia, the member-states of the European Union, and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council all recognised Montenegro's independence.
The 2006 referendum was monitored by five international observer missions, headed by an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)/ODIHR team, and around 3,000 observers in total (including domestic observers from CDT (OSCE PA), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRAE), and the European Parliament (EP) to form an International Referendum Observation Mission (IROM). The IROM—in its preliminary report—"assessed compliance of the referendum process with OSCE commitments, Council of Europe commitments, other international standards for democratic electoral processes, and domestic legislation." Furthermore, the report assessed that the competitive pre-referendum environment was marked by an active and generally peaceful campaign and that "there were no reports of restrictions on fundamental civil and political rights."
On 3 June 2006, the Montenegrin Parliament declared the independence of Montenegro, formally confirming the result of the referendum. Serbia did not object to the declaration.
Rehabilitation of the Royal House
On 12 July 2011, the Parliament of Montenegro passed the Law on the Status of the Descendants of the Petrović Njegoš Dynasty that rehabilitated the Royal House of Montenegro and – in effect – enabled a limited parliamentary monarchy to exist (succeeding from the former absolute monarchy that existed until 1918). The law “governs the important issues regarding the status of the descendants of the Petrović Njegoš dynasty [for the historical and moral rehabilitation of the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty], whose dethroning was contrary to the Constitution of the Principality of Montenegro, a violent act of annexation in the year 1918.” (Article 1).