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“New Montenegrin PM will not seek improving relations with Russia"

Duško Marković. Photo: cdm.me

Despite the opposition’s protest, the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) in Montenegro has managed to convoke the parliament, form the government involving representatives of national minorities and elect Duško Marković - the closest supporter and protégé of Milo Đukanović who is leaving his post of the DPS leader - as the prime minister. Meantime, the opposition parties keep boycotting the Skupština sittings and, as EADaily experts in the Balkans say, they retain their influence.

Historian specializing in the Balkans Yelena Guskova says forming the government will change nothing, as the parliament remains legally incompetent and part of the parliamentarians keep boycotting its work, undermining its authority and legitimacy.

“Actually, the Montenegro’s Skupština is disabled. The ruling party has joined representatives of the national minorities and has 41 votes out of 81. However, the remaining parliamentarians are absent. Theoretically, Skupština can start its work. However, the activity of the parliament is not considered legitimate in any country if almost half of its members boycott the sessions. Skupština’s mandate is under question now. The opposition is keen to achieve new elections insisting that the previous ones need investigation, particularly, the situation with the arrest of the people allegedly plotting a putsch and seeking to destroy the prime minister. These demands of the opposition are rather firm. The opposition is united in their demand to settle the above issues,” she says.

Guskova does not anticipate any improvements in the ruling party’s policy towards Russia after election of Prime Minister Duško Marković. She recommends not to take seriously the prime minister’s statements on the need to “overcome the elements of disagreement in the relations with the historical ally Russia” amid calls to remain committed to the EU and NATO membership as the government’s foreign policy priorities.

The expert believes that Montenegro’s relations with Russia are neither good nor bad. The stance on Russia will not change as the party of Milo Đukanović remains in power, Guskova says.

Alexander Kravchenko, Head of the Kosovo Front Association says the opposition in Montenegro did not have levers of influence in the past either. At present, the opposition is trying to change the situation relying on changes in the external environment looking at Russia, Putin, certain common trends emerging and gathering pace recently. “Either the current leadership of Montenegro will start changing and catching opposition’s ideas or the opposition will try to use the global trends. I mean general retreat from globalism,” Kravchenko says.

He explains that Eastern Europe and the Balkans greatly depend on external agents and respond to them immediately. “As soon as any global line changes, changes happen at the regional level immediately. This is felt in the attitude towards Russian tourists, real estate owners in Montenegro. Even when Trump won the election in U.S., everyone felt changes, certain warmth in the attitude towards Russia,” Kravchenko says.

To recall, the parliamentary elections that were held in Montenegro in autumn were to decide if the country would further strive for integration into Western military and political organizations. The opposition urged a nation-wide referendum on the issue. The elections were held in a tense situation – immediately after elections, a coup attempt allegedly involving Russian citizens was reported. The opposition demanded the situation being investigated, though the government representatives claimed the opposition was behind the putsch. The opposition is boycotting the parliament work. However, DPR managed to convoke the parliament, form the government involving representatives of national minorities and elect Duško Marković - the closest supporter and protégé of Milo Đukanović who is leaving his post of the DPS leader - as the prime minister. Meantime, the opposition parties that received 39 seats in the parliament keep boycotting the Skupština sittings demanding repeated voting.

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