Russia calls on Montenegro to hold referendum on NATO

Montenegro should hold a referendum on joining NATO, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova has said.

Source: Tanjug
(Getty Images, file)
(Getty Images, file)

She noted that less than half of the Montenegrin population supports the country's membership in the military alliance, news agencies reported.

"The situation in Montenegro is difficult. We are talking about an internal political crisis accompanied by popular protests. So, deep divisions persist in the Montenegrin society, first of all on the issue of the country’s NATO membership," Zakharova said, according to TASS, and added:

"We think that the Montenegrin people should have their say at the referendum on this issue. This would be a manifestation of democracy that we call for."

Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic on Monday said the decision to join NATO will be made by the national assembly, not in a referendum.

He was answering questions from assembly members when he said the Constitution does not provide for a referendum on joining NATO and that the assembly "absolutely has the mandate" to decide on this issue.

NATO in early December invited Montenegro to become the 29th member of the organization.

This "historic decision to start accession negotiations with Montenegro was passed unanimous by 28 foreign ministers of NATO member countries," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the time.

Chairman of the Russian Federation Council's Committee for Defense and Security Viktor Ozerov immediately afterwards warned that Russia would suspend joint projects with Montenegro, if the country joins NATO.

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