Radio B92 - “Index finger” September 19, 2003
Aleksandar Karadjordjevic requests that Montenegro returns his inheritance
The Crown Prince Karadjordjevic requests that the State of Montenegro returns what belongs to him by the right of inheritance and that was confiscated by the Communists in 1947- among other, two Palaces and 200 land pieces. Sharp reactions came from Montenegro and Prince Nikola Petrovic Njegos suggested compromise in his statement for Radio B92.
The Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic has decided to request the return of His property in Montenegro. The Crown Prince has addresses the Commission for restitution of the Government of Montenegro, through his representatives, requesting the return of the property belonging to Him by the right of inheritance, and confiscated by the Communists after the WW 2. Following property is in question: The Palace in Milocer with about 200 peaces of land in Budva and Milocer area, the building of Serbian Consulate in Cetinje and the Palace “Leskovac” in Rijeka Crnojevica and everything else that could be established to belong to Him. A part of this property is now owned by the State and a part is privately owned. There is no evaluation at the moment but it is not less than several hundreds of Euros. The member of The Crown Council Dragomir Acovic explains for B92 Crown Prince Alexander’s request.
Dragomir Acovic: The property in question was confiscated by the act of 1947, which in the meantime, as you know, was abolished by the Federal Parliament and it no longer has legal power. The request was based on the rights to private property which is in entire civilized world considered as undisputable and it should be so in a country like the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
B92: Do you except any support of the State of Serbia and its representatives, officially or unofficially in this matter?
Dragomir Acovic: I expect neither support nor resistance. I except that if all the elements of the state are functioning which means judicial system than this request will be met in accordance with the legal procedure that has to be the same for every citizens be him Karadjordjevic or for instance Jankovic.
The public in Montenegro reacted very emotionally to this request. Many legal experts, historians and politicians claim that Karadjordjevic’s request is not very realistic. A typical opinion was offered by a historian from Bar Novak Adzic. “Legal system of the Kingdom of SHS and The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was abolished during the WW 2. At the time of the revolution it absolutely ceased to exist in accordance with a well known general rule ” lex posterior derogate legi priori” i.e. the latter legal act makes the earlier null and void. That means that in 1945 legal discontinuity was proclaimed, the parliament passed the Law on confiscation, which means that the Karadjordjevics have absolutely no legal, moral or political foundation to claim any property in Montenegro. They were occupation dynasty in Montenegro who brought blood ashes and graves to Montenegro”.
Dragomir Acovic: The public in Montenegro reacts emotionally very often. It is something that can not bee put into categories of law, reason, or ethics. The public is aroused also because there is harangue which is not limited to politics, and it has been going on for very long. Such reactions are not unusual. However this is a mater of law and emotions of the public should not influence let alone decide on such issues. Anyway we should hope that adjusting law to a certain person or situation will become a mater of the past, not the present or the future.
B92: The relations between Serbia and Montenegro are not stable. Could such request lead to further deterioration of those relations?
Dragomir Acovic: If there is an intention to make things worse that there is no issue that couldn’t be abused. If no request was claimed and no statement given and no moves were made, that that would have been the reason for deterioration. If a move was made than again it would become the reason for deterioration. So it is not the question if a certain request was made, but what the goal was or what the hidden intention was of political factors that control the public opinion in Montenegro.
Before the Karadjordjevics came to power in 1914 the Kingdom was reigned by Petrovic Njegos Dynasty. The grandson of King Nikola I, Nikola II Petrovic Njegos reacted harshly after learning about Aleksandar Karadjordjevic’s request to the Government in Podgorica. An Architect by profession Nikola Petrovic Njegos leaves in Paris so we spoke to him on the phone, in French. Beside criticism, Prince Nikola also told us his proposal of compromise: “I am not a lawyer and I can’t comment that side of the story, but from the ethical point of view, in my opinion this request is shocking. The relation of the Petrovics and the Karadjordjevics with Montenegro, i.e. Serbia can’t be reduced to mere material level. What our ancestors possessed, was not acquired only thanks to their talent or determination, but above all thanks to the courage and the sacrifices of the people, man and women, who used to work on that. It is not a property of the Royal Families only, but also of entire nation. Laws are set by a society and they can be changed. For example the world has known slavery until recently, and yet no one even thinks to claim their ancient’s rights and request their slaves back. That someone wants to take Milocer and Sveti Stefan away from Montenegro and they are top tourist resources, is simply unbelievable. It is the same as if the Bourbon Dynasty in France requested The Versailles back. This request is essentially a proof of the lack of care for the difficult and social in situation in Montenegro. On the other hand I think it would be normal and feasible to achieve a certain compromise, a gentlemen’s agreement that would provide Karadjordjevic Family with a certain estate in Montenegro, a house for instance, were they could stay during their visits to Montenegro.
Prince Nikola II has a very good image in Montenegro above all in the Independents circles and often attends public events. We asked Dragomir Acovic what image Crown Prince Alexander has in Montenegro:
“Considering that attitudes in Montenegro are almost polarized into opposites, that reflects on the relationship toward Crown Prince Alexander. He was in Montenegro several times and He was warmly welcomed. That does not mean that there were no attacks in the media and some very negative comments, but that is something which belongs to democratic rights, for it is the right of each citizen or political party not to like something or somebody. The attitude of Crown Prince Alexander is not to pour oil on the fire. He tried not to make any contribution to the new conflict by his statements or his acts. I would like to remind of one thing. He too is the descendant of King Nikola I, he is also his great- grandson. In that respect stories of injustice and of possible problems caused by his presence in the country of his ancestors, are as a rule originated by those who create negative atmosphere themselves.
B92: Have Crown Prince Alexander II and Prince Nikola Petrovic had any contacts recently, and what are their relationships?
Dragomir Acovic: As far as I know there were no official contacts. Nikola Petrovic has not contacted the Crown Council since 1992. His late father Mihailo was a member of King Petar II Crown Council. I was informed about the latest statement of Prince Nikola from the media and that is all I know. I would like to point out one thing: there is nothing – and I am not talking about any particular piece of property or any particular Karadjordjevic- that used to be the property of Petrovic-Njegos before it became Karadjordjevics property. To be more precise, what is referred to by Crown Prince Alexander’s request was not confiscated or in any other way taken away from the Paetrovic-Njegos family and then became the property of Karadjordjevics.
The story of restitution of Alexander Karadjordjevic’s property in Montenegro is not likely to be finished soon. Crown Prince Alexander claimed his request appealing to the recently adopted law on restitution, which has already been questioned in Montenegro, from the constitution point of view. There is also the meter of highly complicated political and historical aspect of the whole story, and the uncertain future of Serbia and Montenegro’s relationship does not contribute to the solution at all.
Author: Nikola Tomic