for National Geographic News
Citizens of Montenegro voted Sunday to cut ties with neighboring Serbia, crumbling the last vestige of communist-era Yugoslavia, according to early results released today.
The results, if ratified by Montenegro's parliament, will draw a new political border between the two Balkan republics. (See map of Serbia and Montenegro.)
The last remnant of the former Yugoslavia has been known as Serbia and Montenegro since 2003, when the two republics agreed to remain together for three years, at which time either state could hold a referendum on independence.
"Today, the citizens of Montenegro voted to restore their statehood," Montenegro's pro-independence prime minister, Milo Djukanovic, told a crowd of supporters in the capital of Podgorica this morning, according to the Associated Press.
More than 85 percent of eligible Montenegrins turned out to vote on the referendum for independence.
With nearly all votes counted, the referendum was approved by 55.4 percent, barely over the 55 percent required under rules agreed on by Montenegro and the European Union.
According to the latest reports, 19,000 votes were being disputed by pro-Serbian unionists, who called for a recount.
"Montenegrins have decided it would be best to not be affiliated with Serbia," said David Miller, a senior map editor with the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)
Miller has been following the possible split between Serbia and Montenegro with great interest, he says.
The National Geographic Society is preparing updated maps and will post new versions to the National Geographic Web site if and when Montenegro's independence is ratified, he added.
Montenegro Looks West
Montenegro encompasses 5,333 square miles (13,812 square kilometers), including about 186 miles (300 kilometers) of coastline on the Adriatic Sea.
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