Montenegro denies conducting anti-Russian policy

PODGORICA — The Montenegrin Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dismissed as “inappropriate” and “arbitrary” the criticism the country received from the Russian Federation.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said the statements made by Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Đukanović during his visit last week to the Unites States were “hostile” and “deeply disappointing.”

“Everything that the prime minister stated publicly and in his talks with U.S. officials is in accordance with the national interests of Montenegro and its foreign policy orientation toward NATO and EU membership, and is not anti-Russian in tone,” said the Montenegrin ministry.

Podgorica also “expressed confidence that relations and cooperation between the two countries will continue to grow in the spirit of centuries of tradition, and the sovereign right of each state to decide on its domestic development and foreign policy priorities.”

The statement denied that Montenegro had introduced sanctions against Russia, saying that “in line with the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, it joined sanctions against the former president of Ukraine and members of his regime.”

Russia’s strongly-worded reaction was prompted by Đukanović’s statements related to the expansion of NATO.

“From the mouth of the Montenegrin prime minister calls were heard in the capital of the United States for as speedy as possible accession of Montenegro to NATO. In his address, Milo Đukanović also allowed for hostile statements at the expense of Russia, which in combination with Montenegro joining EU’s sanctions against Russia caused deep disappointment,” said the Russian MFA.

Đukanović was in Washington last week where he lobbied for U.S. support for Montenegro’s bid to receive an invitation for membership during a NATO summit later this year.

Đukanović met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and officials from the U.S. State Department, and gave a lecture at the Atlantic Council.

It was there that he spoke about “interdependence between the crisis in Ukraine and efforts to destabilize the Balkans” and noted that the region was “like a spare ground, where pro-NATO and anti-NATO policies are also coming into strong conflict.”

“If successes in some other, seemingly remote areas, such as Syria, Iran, Ukraine, are to be understood as encouragement for an anti-NATO policy in the region, we must be additionally concerned about the future and stability of the Western Balkans, but also the credibility of NATO,” said Đukanović.

According to him, “the signal from Ukraine should be interpreted in the right way.” Đukanović also advised “boldly going into further expansion of the Euro-Atlantic zone of stability, especially in the Balkans.”

“Montenegro recommends itself as someone who could be the next member, and be of use to the Alliance to, in that way as well, formulate its response to the Ukraine (crisis),” Đukanović was quoted as saying.

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