Milo Đukanović

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Milo Đukanović
Мило Ђукановић
Milo Đukanović.jpg
Prime Minister of Montenegro
Assumed office
4 December 2012
President Filip Vujanović
Preceded by Igor Lukšić
In office
29 February 2008 – 29 December 2010
President Filip Vujanović
Preceded by Željko Šturanović
Succeeded by Igor Lukšić
In office
8 January 2003 – 10 November 2006
President Filip Vujanović
Rifat Rastoder
Dragan Kujović
Filip Vujanović
Preceded by Dragan Đurović (Acting)
Succeeded by Željko Šturanović
In office
15 February 1991 – 5 February 1998
President Momir Bulatović
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Filip Vujanović
President of Montenegro
In office
15 January 1998 – 25 November 2002
Prime Minister Filip Vujanović
Preceded by Momir Bulatović
Succeeded by Filip Vujanović
Minister of Defence
In office
5 June 2006 – 10 November 2006
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Boro Vučinić
Personal details
Born (1962-02-15) 15 February 1962 (age 61)
Nikšić, Yugoslavia
(now Montenegro)
Political party Communist Party (1979-1991)
Democratic Party of Socialists (1991–present)
Other political
Coalition for a European Montenegro (1998–present)
Spouse(s) Lidija Kuč
Children Blažo
Alma mater University of Montenegro

Milo Đukanović (Montenegrin Cyrillic: Мило Ђукановић, pronounced [mǐːlɔ̝ d͡ʑǔkanɔ̝v̞it͡ɕ]; born 15 February 1962) is a Montenegrin politician who has been the Prime Minister of Montenegro since 2012. Đukanović previously served as Prime Minister from 1991 to 1998, then as President of Montenegro from 1998 to 2002 and as Prime Minister again from 2003 to 2006 and from 2008 to 2010. Đukanović is also the long-term president of the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, originally the Montenegrin branch of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, which has governed Montenegro ever since the introduction of multi-party politics.

When Đukanović first emerged on the political scene, he was a close ally of Slobodan Milošević.[1] In 1996, however, he turned against Milošević, abandoning the traditional joint Serbian and Montenegrin vision in favour of an independent Montenegro. He oversaw the conversion of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and Montenegro's increasing separation from Serbia under his leadership, culminating in victory in the May 2006 independence referendum.

After serving continuously in office from 1991 to 2006, Đukanović first retired from politics in late 2006, but he returned to the office of Prime Minister in February 2008. He stepped down again in December 2010 before returning for a second time in December 2012.

Early life

Born in Nikšić, to a middle-class family (his father, Radovan, was a judge, and his mother, Stana, was a nurse), Đukanović grew up with two siblings: younger brother Aco and older sister Ana. He completed primary and secondary school in his home town of Nikšić, before enrolling at Veljko Vlahović University's Faculty of Economics in Titograd where he graduated in 1986 with a diploma in tourism studies. As a youngster, Đukanović, standing 6 feet 5 inches (196 cm) in height, was a keen and avid basketball player.

Political career

1979–1989: Early political career

In 1979, while still in high school, Đukanović joined the Yugoslav Communist League (SKJ), the only political party allowed by law in the Yugoslavian one-party political system. His father Radovan was already an influential member within the party's Montenegrin branch, which initially opened many doors for him. By 1986, he was a presidency member of Socialist Youth Alliance's (SSO) Montenegrin branch as well as the presidency member of its federal-level parent organization.[2]

As a member of the party's various youth bodies he quickly stood out from the pack, earning a nickname Britva ('Straight razor') for his direct, fiery and forceful rhetoric. Progressing steadily up the party ladder, by 1988 Đukanović became a member of the League's highest decision-making body, the Central Committee (CK SKJ). It turned out to be the committee's last sitting and he became its youngest member ever.[3]

By mid-1989 following the so-called anti-bureaucratic revolution, Đukanović became the Secretary at the Presidency of the Montenegrin branch of the Yugoslav Communist League, a post he held until the branch's eventual transformation into the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS CG).[citation needed]

1989–1991: Ascent to power in Montenegro

Actively tagging along with somewhat more seasoned Communist League members like Momir Bulatović and Svetozar Marović, Đukanović was still only 26 years old when the trio effectively gained power through full institutional control in Montenegro on 10 January 1989. They forced out the old Montenegrin communist guard by riding the wave of the anti-bureaucratic revolution, an administrative putsch within the Communist League orchestrated by Slobodan Milošević and the state security apparatus. Effectively, Đukanović, Bulatović, and Marović became Milošević's extended hands in Montenegro, controlling the political and security apparatus he was in the finishing stages of molding to his personal preferences.[citation needed]

Within days in January 1989, the trio ousted Miljan Radović, the chairman of the Montenegrin Communist League and Božina Ivanović, the Presidents of the Presidency of Montenegro, replacing them with politically obedient confidants Veselin Vukotić and Branko Kostić, respectively. President of the Executive Council Vuko Vukadinović initially survived the coup d'etat, but within months he was on his way out as well, to be replaced with Radoje Kontić. Đukanović and the others galvanized public opinion within the republic by organizing workers and bussing them to the capital Titograd to protest in front of the Assembly.[4]

1991–1998: First term as prime minister

The 1990 Montenegrin parliamentary election in early December resulted in a remarkable victory for the League of Communists of Montenegro, who won 83 parliament seats out of the total 125. On 15 February 1991, Đukanović was, somewhat surprisingly, appointed Prime Minister of the first democratically elected government by President Momir Bulatović and with the blessing of Serbian President Slobodan Milošević. Having just turned 29, Đukanović was the youngest prime minister in Europe in what was the first salaried position in his life.

Later in 1991, the Montenegrin Communist League finished its transformation into the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS). Đukanović's office was secured after the 1992 parliamentary election. Held in December, they were called early due to the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the formation of a new state entity, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the elections, the DPS won an absolute majority, 46 seats out of the total 85. Throughout the period 1991 to 1997, Đukanović governed loyally to Slobodan Milošević.

Đukanović's government sent troops to fight seceding Croatia as he opposed the fallout of Yugoslavia caused by Slovenian independence and rebellions in other areas. Đukanović's cabinet actively participated in the Siege of Dubrovnik from the autumn of 1991 until spring 1992, which resulted in the city suffering heavy structural damage. The surrounding area of Konavli also suffered due to looting raids. During this period Đukanović was one of the most vociferous hawks in the Montenegrin government. Some of his notable statements from this period include a proclamation about "starting to hate chess because of the šahovnica (the chequerboard Croatian coat-of-arms)" and an aggressive declaration delivered in a public speech during the assault on Dubrovnik that "We have already thinned the AVNOJ borders of Montenegro and Herzegovina, that is eastern Bosnia and Montenegro. Enough have the Serbian people been a slave to brotherhood and unity, AVNOJist, Tito's Yugoslavia, and even Aleksandar Karađorđević's dreams of fixing Yugoslavia". Djukanovic also campaigned for the modification of the internal borders of the ex-Yugoslav republics saying: "it's time to once and for all establish the firmest border possible with Croatia, but it will be a border a lot more just and realistic than the existing one that was drawn-up by Bolshevik map makers".[5]

After recognizing the eventual loss of Croatia and Bosnia as well the general dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Montenegro held a referendum on independence during March 1992. Đukanović spent a lot of time campaigning amongst the people, expressing the necessity of a common Yugoslav state with Serbia. Although it did not change the outcome, DPS-controlled state propaganda had an effect by pushing the federal option and misrepresenting those who supported independence.[citation needed]

With a turnout of 66.04%, 95.96% voted to stay in Yugoslavia. Subsequently, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was established. After the referendum victory, Đukanović concluded: "Because of eternal brotherhood links; common blood spilled in wars, because of the eternal dream of the best Montenegrins and Serbians, for a brightly common better future, Montenegro willingly chose to live in a common state with Serbia with open heart." Đukanović said in 1993, "We are proud of our Serb origin and Montenegrin statehood, the proud history of the Serb people. That's why we believe in a common future and prosperity."[6]

In the spring of 1992, the Bosnian War started and while Montenegro wasn't directly involved, it still played a role. The Montenegro-wide roundup of Bosnian Muslim refugees and their subsequent handover to the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) happened while Đukanović was Prime Minister; for 23 days Montenegrin police and Yugoslav special forces hunted down Bosnian Muslim refugees, with 200 refugees being handed over to the Trebinje Corpus in neighbouring Herzegovina. 83 of these were executed by the VRS soldiers.[citation needed]

From 1991 until 1997, he aligned himself with Slobodan Milošević's policies. On the domestic political front in 1992, Đukanović became involved in a fierce political clash with the pro-Croatian Montenegrin artist and activist, Jevrem Brković, which resulted in Brković's exile to Croatia, which lasted until 1998. On this occasion, Đukanović stated: "Every smart Montenegrin and every honest man in this land mentions the name of the traitor Jevrem Brković with hatred, who in pure vanity betrayed his people and knowingly spreads anti-Yugoslav speeches across Zagreb, while the Ustašas, again like in 1941, bleed the defenseless Serbian civilians."

Although a Marxist in his youth, Đukanović was reported to be "the kind of politician who has a picture of Margaret Thatcher above his desk". He was looked on favorably by foreign investors. In the 1990s he swiftly forced all socially-owned (worker-owned) companies into state ownership where they were sold to private foreign interests.[7]

In 1996, Đukanović began to fall out with Milošević. Đukanović opposed the Dayton Agreement, which he criticized as being anti-Serb, publicly blasting Milošević in an interview for the Belgrade weekly Vreme. At that time, Milošević was facing harsh criticism in Serbia with student protests in the winter of 1996–97. This was in stark contrast to the stance of Momir Bulatović, who remained a staunch ally of Milošević and who, in addition to being the President of Montenegro, also then headed the pro-Milošević Democratic Party of Socialists. At the 1996 parliamentary election, the DPS won an absolute majority yet again. However, the rift within the party between Đukanović and Bulatović remained.

1998–2002: President of Montenegro

After the parliamentary election, Đukanović won a narrow majority of support within the DPS, a political leverage he then quickly used to cleanse it of all pro-Bulatović elements while simultaneously taking over state-controlled media and security apparatus with the help of his DPS ally Vukašin Maraš.

File:Milo prez kampanja 1997.jpg
Đukanović campaign poster for the October 1997 presidential elections. The slogan exclaims: Get involved! Vote for Milo!

In July 1997, Đukanović announced his decision to stand against Bulatović in the 1997 presidential election. In the first round of elections on 5 October 1997, Đukanović won 145,348 to Bulatović's 147,610. Three of the other candidates, who received 11,000 votes in total, gave their support to Bulatović for the second round run-off scheduled for 19 October 1997. However, in the controversial second round vote, seen by many as the Đukanović's camp most significant electoral victory since the beginning of their rule, Đukanović won the second round by 174,745 votes to Bulatović's 169,257. Despite OCSE recognising the elections as being "generally fair",[8] Bulatović claimed the elections had been fraudulent and refused to recognise the result. Amid violent protests, Đukanović was sworn into office in January 1998.[9]

This victory cemented Đukanović's hold on power in Montenegro. Bulatović, his one-time mentor, was completely squeezed out and now all institutions of power, the DPS, the government, the parliament and the president's office were firmly in the hands of Đukanović and his hand-picked circle of associates. He appointed Filip Vujanović to succeed him as prime minister. Already distant from Milošević and his regime, Đukanović took this policy further, although assuring everyone that he saw the future of Montenegro in the same country with Serbia. He very much tried to project an impression that whatever problems Montenegro had with its participation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had only to do with the authoritarian Milošević regime and not with Serbian democratic forces or the people of Serbia. He said on 27 February 1999: "Montenegro is not Slovenia, it is a component part of Yugoslavia and that it wants to stay."[citation needed]

Milo Đukanović in the Pentagon during November 1999, meeting with United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen.

In 1998, the West also began to turn its back on Milošević. Naturally, Đukanović became an automatic local ally in this policy shift. That was especially obvious after the end of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia when the country was plunged into deep international isolation. Milošević and other members of his clique were considered pariahs by every western government, so Đukanović became one of the few elected politicians within Yugoslavia they would openly communicate with. They were willing to overlook Đukanović's communist past, initial pro-war stance, and mounting evidence of criminal involvement, allowing him to regularly meet with Clinton administration officials such as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana all throughout this period.

In June 2000, he apologised to Croatia for the Montenegrin participation in the Siege of Dubrovnik, saying: "On my own behalf and on behalf of all the citizens of Montenegro I want to apologise to all citizens of Croatia, particularly in Konavli and Dubrovnik for all the pain and material damage inflicted by any member of the Montenegrin people."[10]

Some credited Đukanović for the fact that Montenegro was spared from the brunt of the bombing that devastated the infrastructure of Serbia, suffering no greater destruction. Đukanović opened Montenegro's borders to Albanian Kosovars and opponents of Milošević. The opposition used this in their favor and alleged that the bombing targets were solely pro-Serbian forces in Montenegro, like party headquarters. This special relationship decreased after October 2000 when Milošević was finally ousted and a coalition led by Zoran Đinđić and Vojislav Koštunica took power in Belgrade. Soon after the revolution, Đukanović shifted his own politics again. Now, for the very first time, he started openly pushing for Montenegrin independence.

2002–2006: Second term as prime minister

In 2002, Đukanović and Prime Minister Vujanović agreed a job-swap. Đukanović did not run for president in the 2002 election and Vujanović replaced him as the DPS candidate. On 25 November 2002, Đukanović resigned as president, several months before the end of his term, in order to become Prime Minister again. Vujanović, who had resigned as prime minister at the start of the month to become Speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament, was sworn in as acting president. Đukanović took office as prime minister on 8 January 2003. Vujanović succeeded him as president on 22 May 2003.

From the downfall of Milošević until the recognition of Montenegro’s independence in June 2006, Đukanović struggled with Serbia over the issue of Montenegrin independence. His pro-independence policy resulted in a compromise some see as having been imposed by the European Union and its newly named foreign policy chief Javier Solana, with the replacement of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with Serbia and Montenegro, but this also caused fallout with elements of his supporters who wanted him to push for full independence. As a result, he became the most high-profile supporter of the Montenegrin independence referendum of May 2006. With a turnout of 86.5%, 55.5% voted for independence, narrowly above the threshold of 55%.

In June 2006, the Parliament appointed Đukanović as the first Minister of Defense,[11] a decision that led to a chorus of criticism from different NGOs.[which?]

Đukanović also acted as the president of the National Council for Sustainable Growth, a member of the Council for European Integration, and the president of the Agency for Promotion of Foreign Investment's managing board.

2006–2008: Resignation and first retirement

On 3 October 2006, it was announced that Đukanović was stepping down as prime minister, despite the victory of his Coalition for a European Montenegro in the September 2006 parliamentary election,[12] although he would remain leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists. On 4 October, he endorsed Željko Šturanović as his successor. The choice of Šturanović was considered a compromise between Đukanović and Svetozar Marović, as Đukanović's first candidate was Igor Lukšić, the Minister of Finance.

Đukanović formally ceased to be the Prime Minister on 10 November 2006, as the new Government was elected by Parliament of Montenegro. He cited his reasons for stepping down as "being tired of politics", and wishing to try himself out as a businessman. Đukanović served as a member of Parliament from October 2006 to February 2008. He announced that he might be willing to run in the April 2008 presidential election but eventually decided against it, allowing Vujanović to easily win a second term.[citation needed]

Đukanović headed the proclamation of the new Constitution of Montenegro on 22 October 2007. He received support from almost all DPS municipal boards and committees. Since 2006, Đukanović has opened five private businesses, the latest called Global Montenegro on 25 February 2008, and bought actions in his brother's bank, altogether amassing property worth millions of euros. His other four companies are: Universitas, Capital Invest, Primary Invest, and Select Investments.[citation needed]

2008–2010: Third term as prime minister

On 20 February 2008, President Vujanović nominated Đukanović as prime minister after Šturanović resigned due to illness.[13] He was accordingly elected as prime minister on 29 February 2008. His party won the 2009 parliamentary election.

From 2008, Đukanović's time in the office was marked with advancing EU and NATO integration processes, in which Montenegro mostly went ahead of its neighbors.[14] In the meantime, on 9 October 2008, Montenegro recognized Kosovo's independence, becoming the fourth former Yugoslav republic to recognize Kosovo. In the 2009 parliamentary election, Đukanović's coalition again won a majority of seats.

Montenegro submitted its application for EU membership in December 2008. On 22 July 2009, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn handed over the Commission's Questionnaire to Đukanović in Podgorica and on 9 December 2009, Đukanović delivered to Rehn Montenegro's replies to the Commission's Questionnaire in Brussels. Later that year Montenegro achieved visa liberalisation with the EU. On 1 May 2010, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) entered into force.[15] On 17 December 2010, Montenegro became an official EU candidate.

As for Montenegro's NATO accession bid, the Allies decided to grant its request to join the Membership Action Plan (MAP) in December 2009.[16]

2010–2012: Resignation and second retirement

After giving indications he would step down once the European Union granted official candidate status to Montenegro's membership application, which it did on 17 December 2010, Đukanović resigned as prime minister on 21 December 2010. His party's leadership proposed Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Igor Lukšić to lead the new government.[17] Lukšić was confirmed as the new prime minister by the Parliament of Montenegro on 29 December 2010.[18]

Just like when he stepped down last time, Đukanović again retained the DPS party chairmanship. Furthermore, he did not rule out possible future campaigns for public office, including a 2013 run for President of Montenegro or a run for another tenure as prime minister.[19]

2012–present: Fourth term as prime minister

After the parliamentary election on 14 October 2012, Đukanović informed President Vujanovic that he was capable of forming a government. His cabinet was approved by Parliament on 4 December 2012 and Đukanović returned to the office of prime minister on the same day. Together with Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Đukanović was a runner-up to Vladimir Putin for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project's 2014 Person of the Year award, recognizing "the person who does the most to enable and promote organized criminal activity."[20][21]


Criminal investigation in Italy

In July 2003, the prosecutor's office in Naples linked Đukanović with an organised crime racket worth billions of euros. Đukanović called a press conference in Podgorica to deny the allegations as a "loathsome political trick", aimed at criminalising him and his country.[22]

Dispute over diplomatic immunity

On 16 April 2003, the Judge for Preliminary Inquiries in Naples rejected the Antimafia Commission's request for a warrant for Đukanović's arrest, claiming him to be immune from arrest as Prime Minister of Montenegro. The Commission had been investigating him for some time, since at least May 2002[23][24] and had further requested his arrest as a precautionary measure.

The case was appealed to the Naples Court of Review, which ruled in Đukanović's favor. Besides claiming his immunity, he was described as not socially dangerous as well as ignorant that he was committing crimes. The case was then once again appealed, to the Court of Cassation (Corte di Cassazione). On 28 December 2004, this court ruled in favor of the Antimafia Commission. It argued that as Montenegro was not a sovereign state, Đukanović had no diplomatic immunity.[citation needed]

After the independence referendum, Đukanović's lawyer, Enrico Tuccillo, said that "The referendum has confirmed the premise of the Prime Minister, Milo Đukanović, about the sovereignty of Montenegro: therefore no doubt can now remain about the immunity, granted to heads of state and of government, which Đukanović enjoyed and enjoys." [25]

On 27 March 2008, Đukanović made a low-profile visit to the prosecutor's office in Bari. He was questioned for six-and-a-half hours and answered about 80 prosecutor's questions regarding the accusations against him. On this occasion, Đukanović’s lawyer said that he had written evidence proving that, at the time when his client submitted the request to give a statement to the Italian prosecution authorities in Bari, he did not occupy any public office whatsoever and, therefore, had no intention of hiding behind immunity in the first place. In April 2009, the prosecution authorities finally dropped the case against Đukanović.[26]

Anti-government riots

Several thousand protesters demanding the resignation of Milo Đukanović and the formation of an interim government marched in the centre of the capital Podgorica on evening of 25. October 2015. on anti-government protest. Montenegrin police fired tear gas at opposition supporters, while chasing away the demonstrators with armored vehicles.[27]

Honours and awards

  •  Albania: Received a copy of the key of the city of Tirana on the occasion of his state visit to Albania[when?].


  1. "The Smartest Man In The Balkans", Radio Free Europe, 17 October 2008.
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  3. Мило Ђукановић - Мали маршал из Никшића града;NSPM (Miodrag Zarkovic), 16 December 2009.
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  5. Fleksibilna britva,, 14 November 2002.
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  7. [Blishen. Central European. May 1996. Vol. 6, Issue 5]
  8. Central and South-Eastern Europe, p327
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  10. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
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  12. "Veteran Montenegro PM 'to quit'", BBC News, 3 October 2006.
  13. "Montenegro's president nominates Đukanović to again become premier", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), 20 February 2008.
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  22. "Montenegrin PM accused of link with tobacco racket", The Guardian, 11 July 2003; retrieved 24 June 2006.
  23. BBC News: Montenegrin leader 'linked to mafia'; retrieved 15 June 2006.
  24. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  25. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  26. Montenegro Police Throw Tear Gas on Protest,; accessed 24 October 2015.

External links

Political offices
New office Prime Minister of Montenegro
Succeeded by
Filip Vujanović
Preceded by President of Montenegro
Succeeded by
Filip Vujanović
Preceded by Prime Minister of Montenegro
Succeeded by
Željko Šturanović
New office Minister of Defence

Succeeded by
Boro Vučinić
Preceded by Prime Minister of Montenegro
Succeeded by
Igor Lukšić
Preceded by Prime Minister of Montenegro
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists