April 8, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the illegal annexation of the Bay of Kotor to Montenegro.

Truthfully, the Bay of Kotor has been in a political union with Montenegro for a year longer than that (1813-1814), because there had been a joint state established in the Bay instead of in the hills. The decision about the unification of the Bay of Kotor and Montenegro was made by the Central Commission, at the government level, comprised of nine Bokelians and nine Montenegrins, in 1813, in Dobrota near Kotor, presided by the Bishop of Montenegro Petar I Petrović.

Montenegro, a country without roads, schools or any economy to speak of, was then attached to the Bay, with maritime, trade, commerce and development (and 30% of literate males versus the 0.01% in Montenegro and Serbia at that time), and in time, when many of the coastal Catholic identified as Serbs, the Bay received a natural hinterland. There is a different interpretation, wherein the Bay of Kotor had actually attached itself to Montenegro, because Montenegro — albeit an unrecognized state without roads, schools or an economy — was, after all, a synonym for freedom.

The year 1918 should not be included in the cohabitational experience of the geographies near to our hearts, seeing as no Bokelians had taken part in the Podgorica Assembly (where Montenegro entered into a legal union with Serbia), nor was anyone from the Littoral even invited to that Assembly — given that the Bay did not belong to Montenegro in the first place. It had convened its own separate assemblies, plural, about the unification with Serbia, which, the same way as many other former Austro-Hungarian provinces, it joined.

On April 8, 1945, a month before the end of the Second World War, a session of the Plenum of the Bay of Kotor Region was convened in Kotor, with plans to discuss, in the conditions of the (post)war chaos, how to feed the population, as well as how to organize the judiciary, communal, social, healthcare and educational systems.

The democratically elected representatives of the Bay did not attend the session, but notable citizens, intellectuals, and priests of both denominations did.

The records do not show who had invited the attendees, nor who had chosen them.

Wearing the uniform of a high-ranking state security officer (UDBA), with a gun in his belt, Montenegrin Blažo Jovanović asked to have it filed under “miscellaneous” (!) what would spell the abolition of the Bay of Kotor (up until that point, the name of these two close and fraternal geographies had always been listed as: Montenegro and the Bay of Kotor). Even though these were times when heads rolled like soccer balls, a significant number of Bokelians was opposed to discussing such an important question at the April 8 session, seeking to have the matter postponed. The two priests, an Orthodox one and a Catholic one, Father Čukvas and Don Pasković, requested to hear from the people and the municipal boards first, which almost everybody in attendance agreed with.

The records show that despite everything, the decision about joining the Bay of Kotor to Montenegro was made ad hoc, in the presence of the armed Jovanović, with an attempt by a minority of the session attendees to prevent an illegal act from taking place.

When the “miscellaneous” vote was held about whether to even make the decision on April 8, 1945 in Kotor, 11 of the signatories were against.

And yet, the historical records (!) nevertheless show that the Plenum had “unanimously voted that the Bay should join the federal unit of Montenegro, considering itself to be the interpreter of the wishes of the people of the Bay”.

A week later, at the Montenegrin Anti-Fascist Assembly, the unification was approved on the basis presented here.

“Therefore, the real name of the erstwhile smallest Yugoslavian republic should read Montenegro and the Bay of Kotor, which would appease the very agitated spirits who relentlessly seel more than cultural autonomy and less than independence.

Montenegro nurtures a colonial consciousness towards the Bay, persistently refusing to adopt the Mediterranean civilizational codes instead of imposing its own, given that the Bokelians consider the codes that come from the hills to be inoperative, to say the least.

I do not consider myself one of those citizens of the Bay who want to change the internal structure, but it appears to me that, lacking for quality political ideas, many of the Bay youths have a historical chance to try their hand at politics, drawing arguments like verbal swords.

Politics is not the art of the possible, as many believe. It is a skill to change things for the better. Today, the Bay is grumbling under Montenegro.

This is not what we had agreed on in 1813.