Montenegro War Veterans Hope for Serbia Payouts

Montenegrin reservists are seeking to prove they were mobilised during Yugoslavia’s NATO conflict but hopes of getting unpaid wages from Belgrade may be misplaced.Montenegro’s defence ministry has received around 1,100 requests from reservists for confirmation that they took part in combat activities during NATO’s bombing of the former Yugoslavia which they hope will allow them to claim unpaid wages.

“The increased interest was a result of information about the overdue wages which Serbia’s defence ministry is supposed to pay after the Strasbourg’s court ruling,” the ministry explained.

The European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled last August that Serbia must pay around 17 million euro to veterans of the 1990s conflicts who sued Belgrade.

But the ruling only affected ex-fighters from south Serbia who filed an appeal before the Strasbourg court.

A Montenegrin war veterans’ association also warned the former reservists that they might get nothing.

The Strasbourg ruling “doesn’t affect reservists from Montenegro”, said the association’s director, Radan Nikolic.

The defence ministry in Podgorica said it did not know exactly how many Montenegrins were mobilised by the Yugoslav army and took part in the 1999 conflict.

However, it said that within Podgorica units alone, 23,273 people were called up.

All Montenegrin reservists were paid half wages for military trips they undertook, while officers and noncommissioned officers received regular wages.

Montenegro’s defence ministry said it didn’t know whether Belgrade had been paying any wages to former fighters, and that it had asked its Serbian counterpart for information.

The Serbian defence ministry said however that it could not provide any information about the situation immediately.

The NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia, aimed at ending the conflict between Serbian forces and Kosovo Albanians, also hit some sites in Montenegro.

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