Tags: EU | Montenegro | NATO

Pro-Russian Opposition in Montenegro Plans NATO Referendum

Monday, 06 February 2017 09:43 AM

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — Montenegro's main opposition party said Monday that it will organize a referendum on the country's membership in NATO — with the support of Russia — if the ruling pro-Western majority keeps insisting the decision should be made in parliament.

The Democratic Front's leader, Andrija Mandic, said that the "people's referendum" received the support of the Kremlin when he visited Moscow earlier this month.

"We consider that the people of Montenegro must be consulted on such an important issue like it is the country's NATO membership," Mandic told The Associated Press. "We haven't set the date of our referendum yet, but I would like it to be on March 24 when NATO started bombing campaign against our country, with tragic consequences, destruction and many victims."

People in Montenegro are evenly split between those supporting NATO and those denouncing the Western military alliance for a nearly three-month-long bombing campaign against mainly Serbia, but also Montenegro, in 1999 that stopped a bloody Serb crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo.

Montenegro's ruling Democratic Party of Socialists called the staging of the referendum illegitimate.

"A group of lawmakers may initiate a referendum, it is their constitutional right, but they need parliamentary majority, which they don't have," Predrag Sekulic, an DPS official, told the AP. "They don't think about the country's constitution and don't want to hear what citizens think about it, but want only to satisfy someone else's interests," referring to Russia.

Montenegrin authorities have accused Russian nationalists for an alleged coup attempt in October that included plans to assassinate the pro-Western then-prime minister because of his government's bid to join NATO.

The Kremlin has denied involvement, but has actively supported local groups that oppose having the traditional Slavic ally become the 29th member of the Western military alliance. Montenegro is expected to wrap up the membership process in the spring.

During Mandic's visit to Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said "dragging" Montenegro into NATO may cause "a deep rift" in the country, according to the TASS news agency.

"Russia understands the Democratic Front leaders' position on the need to take the citizens' opinion into consideration and conduct a referendum on Montenegro's NATO membership," he said.

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Montenegro's main opposition party said Monday that it will organize a referendum on the country's membership in NATO - with the support of Russia - if the ruling pro-Western majority keeps insisting the decision should be made in parliament.The Democratic Front's leader,...
EU,Montenegro,NATO
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2017-43-06
Monday, 06 February 2017 09:43 AM
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