As far as I understand it, Bosnia & Herzegovina does not recognise Kosovo & its unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 because of pressure from the sizeable Serbian population in the country (~30% in 2013), including the threat to declare independence from Bosnia themselves.

Montenegro however, has a similar Serbian population (~28% in 2011), but still recognises Kosovo. What is the reason for this disparity?

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia says that Republika Srpska is effectively exercising a veto over the recognition, partly through the threat of using Kosovo's independence as precedent to support its own potential secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, as far as I understand it, the three members of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina would have to agree unanimously to extend recognition to Kosovo, so as long as the Serb member of the presidency withholds consent, it will not be possible.

Presumably, no similar structure exists in the Montenegrin constitution whereby Serbs in government could veto foreign policy decisions.

User rs.29 also notes in a comment that public opinion in Montenegro shifts back and forth between greater and lesser affinity with Serb identity, and therefore greater or lesser support for Serbia's political goals. Montenegro's recognition of Kosovo came during a time when it was seen as preferable to align with "the West." Such a state of affairs is far less likely to occur in Bosnia and Herzegovina because of the constitution, particularly its effect of magnifying nationalist political sentiment along with the need for unanimity in the three-member presidency.

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    Also note that population in Montenegro often shifts between being purely Montenegrin and being Montenegrin and Serb at the same time . At one point of time it was "cool" to be pro-Western and anti-Serb (thus recognition of Kosovo) . Now pendulum is slowly moving in other directions, with protests against longstanding ruler of Montenegro (sometimes as president, sometimes as PM) Milo Đukanović.
    – rs.29
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 7:07
  • @rs.29 thanks for pointing that out. Still, if the constitutions of Montenegro were more similar to that of Bosnia, the Serbs in Montenegro who remained loyal to the political goals of Serbia would have been able to block recognition. So it seems like the difference in constitution is the most significant difference.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 7:43
  • This is true, Montenegro is a unitary state (country), mostly because main nation (Montenegrin) was considered to be homogeneous and too small to further divide Montenegro. Divisions appeared only recently between two factions (pro-Montenegrin and pro-Serb) , and often members of the same family identify themselves differently (for example father Montenegrin, son Serb) . This is similar to better known Russian-Ukrainian divide .
    – rs.29
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 8:11

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