Last modified: 2006-08-19 by ivan sache
Keywords: montenegro | crna gora | eagle: double-headed (yellow) | orb | scepter (yellow) | lion (yellow) | crown (yellow) | coat of arms: montenegro |
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Flag of Montenegro - Image by Željko Heimer, 25 September 2004
The status of the union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by a
referendum on Montenegrin Independence on May 21, 2006. 55.54% of
voters voted for independence of Montenegro, narrowly passing the 55%
threshold needed to validate the referendum under rules set by the
European Union, as reported by 99.80% of the 1,100 polling stations.
Serbia, the member-states of the European Union, and the permanent
members of the United Nations Security Council have all signalled they
will likely recognize Montenegro's independence, removing any obvious
obstacles from Montenegro's path towards becoming the world's newest
sovereign state. Predrag Popović, a leader of one of the unionist
parties demanding a full recount, said the day after the election that
his bloc would lodge a complaint with the head of the election
commission, Slovak diplomat Frantisek Lipka.
According to the electoral commission, the 55% threshold was passed by only 2,300 votes (55.5% in favour).
On June 3, 2006, the Parliament of Montenegro declared the independence of Montenegro, formally confirming the result of the referendum on independence. On June 5 Serbia was declared the successor of Yugoslavia and the State Union by the National Assembly of Serbia. Montenegro has begun the process of seeking international recognition as well as a seat at international organizations.
Matthew Chew, 7 June 2006
"The Montenegrin Parliament voted on 12 July to adopt a flag, coat of arms, anthem, and national holiday [...] Opposition deputies did not attend the session. The flag is red with a gold coat of arms in the center. The coat of arms is that of the former Montenegrin Petrović dynasty, which was replaced by Serbia's Karadjordjević dynasty in 1918. The anthem is a traditional patriotic song (Oj, svijetla majska zoro). The state holiday is 13 July, which was the date in 1878 that the Congress of Berlin recognized Montenegrin independence, and the date in 1941 that Josip Broz Tito's Partisans launched their uprising against the Axis occupation."
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Prag, newsline Vol. 8, No. 131, Part II, 13 July 2004
For the first time since the Montenegrin kingdom was incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes in 1918 (it became Yugoslavia in 1929), its traditional red flag with a gold coat of arms was raised over the Montenegrin parliament on 15 July [...]. The parliament recently approved a package of new state symbols that effectively entails a revival of older ones. About 2,000 spectators, many of whom were dressed in folk costumes, sang the Montenegrin anthem and heard parliamentary speaker Ranko Krivokapić say that "today we have given new life to the spirit of those for whom ideas were more important than life and who gave everything for the freedom of Montenegro," the Podgorica daily Pobjeda reported. [...]
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Prag, newsline Vol. 8, No. 134, Part II, 16 July 2004
Christian Berghänel, 18 July 2004
On 16 September 2004, the website of the Government of Montenegro announced that the Government had adopted the etalon for the national coat of arms, flag and anthem. Therefore, the actual adoption date is probably the 15th September.
The aforementioned webpage contains JPEG images of the coat of arms, the vertical flag and the horizontal flag as well as the MP3 file of the anthem. The images shown on this page were drawn after the official images.
Željko Heimer, 25 September 2004
The website of the Parliament of Montenegro includes an explanation of the law on the state symbols, which I believe to bee a document prepaired for the members of the
Parliament for the session when it was discussed.
Here is a translation of the most interesting parts of the document.
"With the proposed [now adopted] law the question of the state symbols is solved on the historical roots and according to the modern needs though the standards of a democratic society.
Considering that though history Montenegro had state symbols of high artistical and esthetical qualities and values, the law proposal stems from the fact that the new modern symbols of the state should be based on the authentic historical symbols of the Montenegrin state.
Regarding the components of the coat of arms of Montenegro, they are defined according to the Montenegrin state tradition, its symbolics, emblematics and heraldry that begins with the Crnojević dynasty, when the Monetnegrin state coat of arms was the double-headed golden eagle. The Petrović dynasty has taken the Montenegrin state coat of arms from the Crnojević with some additions, so that Petar II Petrović Njegoš included a precise coat of arms on the Montenegrin merit medal of 1841. In the time of Prince Danilo Petrović Njegoš (1851-1860.), who was founder of the modern Montenegrin state, the state coat of arms was: a double-headed golden eagle with a crown over the head, holding a sceptre in one claw and the orb in the other, with a breast shield with a golden lion passant over a green grass with blue sky above. This coat of arms was also valid as the state emblem in one period of the rule of Prince Nikola I Petar Njegoš.
The legally established flag of Montenegro is red with a golden broder and the state coat of arms in the middle in ratio of the length to width 2:1. This flag is a traditional Montenegrin flag that acted as the state flag until the end of the internationally recognized State of Montenegro. This flag was the state flag of the Principality and letter also of the Kingdom of Montenegro."
I am not sure that all of the claims above could pass though an argumented historical analysis. I am translating below parts of the article Milova obelezja - Ratna zastavavzamenila trobojku, published in Blitz (Belgrade) on 14 July 2004.
[...] Yesterday, on the masts of the state bodies the tricolour was replaced with the the red flag with golden border and the coat of arms in the middle.[...]
Heraldist Dragomir Acović explains for our magazine that the Montenegrins proclaimed for the state flag a modification of the ajal barjak or the great war flag with the coat of arms in the middle. He highlights that the historical flag did not include the golden, but rather the silver border. The eagle also changed of colour - Acović states - I assume that they wanted to differentiate the colours from Serbian eagle, as I see no other reason for the change, since the Petrović eagle was not golden but also silver. As he reminds, the eagle during the Petrović dynasty was no different from the eagle of Serbia, both being silver and were called the Nemanjić eagle. During the Petrović's rule, the Montenegrins had war flags, red with a silver border. The company flags, Acović explains, included a white cross in the middle, while the great war flag - included the coat of arms. When the tricolour was started to be used in Serbia in time of Prince Miloš, Acović claims, that custom was taken in Montenegro, too, so that Petar II Petrović Njegoš ordered that the golden medal of the Order of Obilić be hung on the flag, while the tricolour was made official flag in Montenegro in the time of King Nikola.
Here is a comment from the Belgrade free radio station B92 (my translation):
"The parties in the opposition [in Montenegro] except the Liberal Alliance (Liberalni savez) are not pleased with the newly adopted symbols. The People's Party (Narodna stranka] and the Serb National Party (Srpska narodna stranka) proclaimed that they are going to change these symbols as soon as they come to power. For the strongest opposition party, the Socialist National Party (Socijalistiška narodna partija), only the red flag is controversial, although they stated that "towards it they have respect due to it historical meaning"."
Željko Heimer, 17 July 2004
The government of Montenegro claims that the new flag, with the golden border, is the historically correct version, though this may well be argued without much effort.
However, the fact is that the Montenegrin historical flaggs were rarely standardized and that it seems that each example is unique in a way. There are indeed preserved flags with both white and yellow (golden) border, just as there are historical flags with various central devices (white or golden eagle, crosses of varous shapes, with royal initials with the lion passant in shield or beneath and so on), various flag ratios and so on. To the best of my knowledge, there was no formal legislation that defined the historical Montenegrin alaj-barjak (as it was called when refered to it as the main national war colours).
Željko Heimer, 30 September 2004
Coat of arms of Montenegro - Image by Željko Heimer, 25 September 2004
Vertical flag of Montenegro - Image byŽeljko Heimer, 25 September 2004
Transitional flag of Montenegro - Image by Ž eljko Heimer, 25 June 2006
Different versions of the national flag of Montenegro were seen during the period between the adoption of the law (12 July 2004) and the release of the official etalon of the flag and arms (15 September 2004).
The flags used in the first days after the flag was adopted had a golden fringe instead of the golden border. It has passed quite some time that the initially made fringed flag has been used up and the flags with proper golden border were introduced into usage. The borderless fringed flag are still to be seen in use occasionally.
Željko Heimer, 25 July 2006
On 16 July, 2004, a small article was published in the Portuguese PÚblico newspaper about the flying of what they called the "independentist flag" in
Montenegro. This small article was illustrated by a photo showing a flag being hoisted vertically. The flag has plain background and a central device that is difficult to resolve, but
once resolved becomes the double-headed eagle of Montenegro. The flag is
surrounded by a lighter fringe but has no border and the eagle is on the
side, as if this was a flag ment to be hoisted normally. A quick translation of the article follows:
Independentist flag hoisted in Montenegro.
For the first time since 1918, when the country was included in what was then called the Kingdom of Serbians, Croats and Slovenes (the First Yugoslavia), the Montenegrin authorities hoisted yesterday in their Parliament a red flag with a golden double-headed eagle. This symbolic act, which confirms the intentions of the current leaders of Montenegro to promote the secession from the current State of Serbia and Montenegro, took place in the presence of the President of Podgorica's Parliament, Ranko Krivokapić.
"For the first time, since 1918, this flag is hoisted in front of a state institution", said Krivokapić to about 2000 people that, according to Reuters, attended the meeting. "We need an independent Montenegro", read a sign exhibited by the participants. The ceremony took place three days after the approval by the Podgorica Parliament of a bill that reintroduces the flag and the coat of arms used by the small Adriatic republic during the period when it was a sovereign state, ruled by the Petrović royal family, between 1878 and 1918.
Jorge Candeias, 19 August 2005
The article refers to the original first hoisting of the new flag adopted last year. The firstly used flags were all incorrect by the fact that they used golden fringe instead of the golden border. However, these were the flags that were available and it seems that none bothered it with the fact that they are slightly incorrect.
Željko Heimer, 20 August 2005