Montenegro: the winding road to EU

The results of presidential elections in Montenegro, on the 15th of April, show that Milo Djukanovic, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), won another term as head of state after serving as Prime Minister six times and as President once. Djukanovic won with almost 53,9 per cent of the votes, securing victory at the first round. “This is the confirmation of Montenegro’s decision to continue on its European path that will lead us to full EU membership” Djukanovic told his supporters [Dusica Tomovic, Djukanovic Wins Montenegro’s Presidential Election, Balkan Insight, 15/04/2018].

Milo Djukanovic has held power and just about every high-level post in Montenegro over the past quarter of century, i.e. the country was led by the same man into a stabilocracy. He resigned as prime minister in December 2010, after suggesting that Russia had interfered in the election results, and shortly after Montenegro was granted the status of official candidate to the EU.

US Vice President Mike Pence launched a verbal assault on Russia during his visit to Montenegro on  August 2017, accusing Moscow of actions that could prevent the accession of Montenegro to NATO. Pence accused Russia of engineering an alleged coup d’etat, featuring an assault against the parliament and an assassination attempt of the prime minister to dissuade Podgorica from joining NATO. In January 2018 the court decided to drop any mention of a Russian governmental involvement and the trial is still ongoing. Anyhow Montenegro’s position within the Euro-Atlantic community is of considerable importance.

Montenegro seems, after a long lethargy, to want restart the EU accession process with new vigour, despite endemic problems (such as corruption) that need to be solved quickly. That said, the Montenegrin Prime Minister Duško Marković and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, met in the coastal town of Tivat, in Montenegro (19th of April) and openly agreed that the country is making great progress towards the EU, still retaining “the role of a forerunner country in the region”.

At the joint press meeting, Mogherini said, repeated that doors are open, very encouraging progress on the public administration reform and economic issues had been seen, but further progress was needed in the rule of law and the media freedom. Out of diplomatic niceties, substantial progress is still expected from Podgorica on substantial matters [Tivat – Duško Marković, Federica Mogherini: Montenegro is making great progress towards EU, Government of Montenegro, 19/04/2018].

Marković assured that there is a plan to solve the problems and that the government intends to fulfil the provisional benchmarks for chapters 23 and 24 (respectively Judiciary and fundamental rights and Justice, freedom and security). Time will tell.

Mattia Giulioli – Master’s degree in International Relations graduated at Roma Tre University. Master in Economic Security, Geopolitical and Intelligence obtained at the SIOI (Italian Society for International Organization). Expert in Russian and Eastern Europe affairs.