By Miodrag Vlahović, @Mico_Vlahovic ,
Podgorica, 01 August 2023, dtt-net.com / peacefare.net – Post-election political chaos in Montenegro continues. A winning “Europe Now!” Movement – which controls 24 out of 81 seats in Parliament – has announced the start of negotiations with the pro-Russian/pro-Serbian coalition “For the Future of Montenegro. ” These are the parties of the former “Democratic Front.” Their leaders are still faced with a pending second trial for their alleged participation in failed 2016 coup d’etat, backed by Russia.
That is no surprise. Europe Now! has repeatedly stated that no negotiations with the former ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) would be possible. That pledge was an important element of their election campaign. That is the first contradiction of the current Montenegrin political constellation: the DPS, which is clearly pro-European, i.e. in favor of EU integrations, cannot be the partner of Europe Now! whose public political program is focused on EU membership.
The option to invite pro-Russian parties to join the new government has provoked three immediate negative consequences.
The first problem already exists. In two governments since the fall from power of DPS there have been no ethnic Montenegrins, a detriment largely ignored by the US and EU. The Serb nationalist narrative prevails.
The second concerns the Albanian and Bosniak minority parties, which have 11 seats in parliament. It is not yet clear whether they will lend their support to a government that denies the Srebrenica genocide, negates Montenegrin identity, and supports Russian aggression in Ukraine. But it is highly unlikely they would participate in a government which (re)confirms the political platform that the Serbian Orthodox Church, backed by Aleksandar Vučić regime, has promoted since 2020.
The third consequence concerns the international community’s Quint (US, UK, France, Germany, and Italy) diplomatic representatives in Montenegro. They continue to hesitate to voice public opposition to participation of pro-Russian parties in the next Montenegrin government. The Ambassadors remain attached to the formula “stable government with clear EU orientation.” Their inertia gives encouragement to pro-Serbian/Russian nationalists.
A serious and present danger
The statements of the Quint do not disturb “Europe Now!” because they fit well with its lip service to EU integration and allow room to include in the government those who have for decades obstructed Euro-Atlantic integration. Still, the unofficial prime minister-designate Milojko Spajić, President of Europe Now!, has been unable to say how many MPs or even parties will support his government, nevermind name a cabinet.
Because of loopholes in the Montegrin constitution, this hiatus allows the “technical” Prime Minister Abazović, to continue in office. His “out-going” mandate has lasted almost a year, despite the lack of accountability for dubious deeds. One of the rare points of consensus (minus Serbia and Russia) is that Abazović should go as soon as possible.
But that would not suffice to calm the situation. Instability and uncertainty loom over the smallest country in the Western Balkans. Without a clearer and more precise position of the Quint, Montenegro will continue to face enormous problems. It will likely revert to negative and destructive political developments, with implications for the economy and security.
Montenegro continues its long journey in wrong direction. Where and when it may arrive to the point of no return is not only a rhetorical question, but a serious and clear danger.
Miodrag Vlahović, is former Montengrin Minister of Foreign Affairs and former ambassador to US. He is now president of the Montengrin Helsinki Committee. This opinion of his was first published at peacefare.net website.