|The first recorded settlers of present-day Montenegro were Illyrians, the Docleata. In 9 AD the Romans conquered the region of present-day Montenegro. Slavs massively colonized the area in the 5th and 6th centuries, forming a semi-independent principality, Doclea, that was involved in Balkan medieval politics with ties to Rascia and Byzantium and to a lesser extent Bulgaria, becoming a monarchy in 1077. By the end of the 12th century, fully incorporated into a unified Serbian realm, the Serbian land, then called Zeta, was governed by Nemanjics. After the Serbian Empire collapsed in the second half of the 14th century, another family came to prominence by expanding their power in the region, the Balšićs. In 1421 it was annexed to the Serbian Despotate, but after 1455 another Serbian noble family, the Crnojevićs, ruled the Principality of Montenegro that until the end of the 15th century became the last free monarchy of the Balkans, finally falling to the Ottomans in 1499, who annexed it to the sanjak of Skadar. For a short time Montenegro existed as a separate autonomous sanjak in 1514&ndahsh;1528, another version of which existed again some time between 1597 and 1614.
In the 16th century Montenegro developed a form of special and unique autonomy within the Ottoman Empire; the local Serb clans were free of many bonds. Nevertheless the Montenegrins refused to accept Ottoman reign and in the 17th century raised numerous rebellions, culminating with the Ottoman defeat in the Great Turkish War at the end of that century. Montenegro became a theocracy led by the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitans, flourishing since the Petrović-Njegoš became the traditional Prince-Bishops. 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 Serb clans of the highlands.
Kingdom of Montenegro
Under Nicholas I, the Principality of Montenegro vastly advanced and enlarged several times in the Serbo-Turkish Wars and achieved recognition of independence in 1878. Modernization of the state followed, culminating with the draft of a Constitution in 1905. Political rifts for the first time emerged between the reigning People’s Party that supported democratization of the ruler’s autocratic regime and unconditional union with Serbia and the minor pro-monarch True People’s Party. In 1910 Montenegro became a Kingdom. It initiated the Balkan wars in 1912 and 1913 in which the Ottomans lost all lands in the Balkans, achieving a common border with Serbia, but the Skadar was awarded to a newly created Albania. 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 Serbian Army liberated Montenegro, which elected a union with the Kingdom of Serbia.
In 1922 Montenegro formally became the Zeta Area of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and in 1929 it became a part of a larger Zeta Banate of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In World War II Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis forces in 1941, who established a fascist puppet Independent State of Montenegro, liberated by the Yugoslav Partisans in 1944. Montenegro became a constituent republic of the communist Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), its capital renamed to Titograd in honor of Partisan leader and SFRY president Josip “Tito” Broz. More and more autonomy was established, until the Socialist Republic of Montenegro ratified a new constitution 1974 (however, this RFM remained a constituent republic of the SFRY).
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, 95.96% of the votes were cast for remaining in the federation with Serbia, although the turnout was at 66% because of a boycott by the Muslim, Albanian and Catholic minorities as well as the pro-independence Montenegrins. The opposition claimed that the poll was organised under anti-democratic conditions, during wartime in the former Yugoslavia, 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 the 1992 referendum was totally unmonitored, unlike the 2006 vote, which has been closely monitored by the European Union.
During the 1991–1995 Bosnian War and Croatian War, Montenegro participated with its police and paramilitary forces in the attacks on Dubrovnik and Bosnian towns along with Serbian troops. It conducted persecutions against Bosnian refugees who were arrested by Montenegrin police and transported to Serb camps in Foča, where they were executed.
In 1996, Milo Đukanović’s de facto government severed ties between Montenegro and Serbia, which was then still under Milošević. Montenegro formed its own economic policy and adopted the German Deutsche Mark as its currency. It has since adopted the Euro, though it is not formally part of the Eurozone currency union. Subsequent governments of Montenegro carried out pro-independence policies, originally restored by the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, and political tensions with Serbia simmered despite the political changes in Belgrade. Despite its pro-independence leanings, targets in Montenegro were repeatedly bombed by NATO forces during Operation Allied Force in 1999.
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 favor of a looser state union named Serbia and Montenegro and a possible referendum on Montenegrin independence was postponed for a minimum of three years.
21st century independence
The status of the union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by the referendum on Montenegrin independence on May 21, 2006. A total of 419,240 votes were cast, representing 86.5% of the total electorate. 230,661 votes or 55.5% were for independence and 185,002 votes or 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 have all recognized Montenegro’s independence; by doing so they removed all remaining obstacles from Montenegro’s path towards becoming the world’s newest sovereign state.
The 2006 referendum was monitored by five international observer missions, headed by an OSCE/ODIHR monitoring team, and around 3,000 observers in total (including domestic observers from CEMI, CEDEM and other organizations). The OSCE/ODIHR ROM[clarify] joined efforts with the observers of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (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 June 3, 2006, the Parliament of Montenegro declared the independence of Montenegro, formally confirming the result of the referendum on independence. Serbia did not obstruct the ruling, confirming its own independence and declaring the Union of Serbia and Montenegro ended shortly thereafter.
On September 6, 2007 an advisor of the Prime Minister of Serbia called Montenegro a ‘quasi-state’. Montenegro gave a protest list to the Serbian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Božidar Đelić, has apologised for this.