Parliamentary elections will determine future Accession of Montenegro to NATO

The Montenegrin authorities are preparing for the parliamentary elections appointed on October 16. This date was set by the President in July. The decision was preceded by a reorganization of the government under the leadership of the Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and his “Democratic party of socialists”. As a result of political changes representatives of the parliamentary opposition have been included to the Cabinet. This step was preceded by protests which began on September 27 last year and had continued in the country until now. The main slogans of the protesters are directed against the ruling “Dedemocratic party of socialists” and the Prime Minister Djukanovic.

Among other things the opposition is demanding from the leadership to hold the country’s referendum on the accession to NATO. Djukanovic does not exclude such a possibility but believes that the issue will be settled by the new Parliament elected in October. Currently the population of Montenegro is fragmented into two camps. One is supporting the ruling party, others are against the economic policy of the Prime Minister, against NATO membership and do not want to bear any more Djukanovic. The number of opposition supporters is growing. On the eve of the elections the main opponents of the “Democratic party of the socialists” are the opposition coalition “Democratic front” and “Key”. They are planning to unite in the new Parliament. According to preliminary estimates together they score more than 55% of the votes.

As for the question of the country’s joining to the military Alliance the situation is quite unambiguous. Under the results of the electronic referendum of the Montenegrin “Movement for neutrality” 65% of the respondents will vote against the accession of Montenegro to NATO, 23% support the government’s course for the Euro-Atlantic integration, 12% of respondents have refrained from answering. The results of Internet voting can be considered reliable as more than 20 thousand citizens have participated. According to the research center “Ipsos” 85% of the population support the idea of a referendum on the membership of Montenegro in NATO.

In addition according to experts the majority of the supporters of the membership in the Bloc see NATO as the integrative framework or a necessary step on the way to the EU but not as a military Union. Montenegro is not a member of the European Union but is negotiating the accession hoping for the full membership in 2021.

At the same time Serbs making up one-third of the population of Montenegro remember NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia and perceive the Union as an enemy and are unlikely to ever agree to cooperate with the Alliance.

The Parliament of Montenegro has the legal authority to determine that the country “needs” the NATO membership. Such decision can not be challenged and changed. That’s why the upcoming 16 October vote will be crucial. The choice of the Montenegrins can dramatically change the composition of the Parliament and the balance of the political forces in the country that will not allow the decision-makers “to bypass” the people and approve the accession to the Alliance.2

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