September 7, 2023 From Media

Picula: European Montenegro does not suit Vučić, but Croatia needs it

Croatian Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur for relations with Montenegro, Tonino Picula, commented on the first visit of Montenegrin President Jakov Milatović to Croatia for N1's Studio uživo from Brussels.

According to Picula, Montenegro is very close to forming a government, which is why it wants to strengthen its friendly and partnership relations with Croatia, the only neighboring country that is a member of the European Union.

"Their European path depends most on what will happen in Montenegro. In recent years, there has been no progress due to internal political turmoil, but this year, they have completed their political architecture. It is now up to the factors in Montenegro to form a new government as soon as possible, one that would initiate negotiations with the EU and pave the way for the betterment of its citizens," Picula stated.

He added, "The question is whether this newly formed government will repeat the mistakes of the previous ones or recover. If everything falls into place in a positive direction, we could once again talk about something that has been forgotten, that Montenegro leads the enlargement policy in the Western Balkans."

There are differing views among political winners in Montenegro. Milatović mentioned in Zagreb that there would be a broad coalition when forming the government and implementing reforms. This means that the government will include pro-Russian policies but also those opposing EU membership.

"That's why I expressed a certain reservation. I would like the new government to avoid all the internal conflicts that have characterized all governments since August 30, 2020. Since then, there have been coalitions within coalitions. Whether Montenegro is headed for some kind of tough cohabitation after the government is formed remains to be seen," Picula said.

Picula noted that the influence of Serbia and Western countries should not be excluded from the entire story, but it is best for Montenegro to decide for itself what it wants.

"In public opinion polls, it is evident that around 75 to 80 percent of citizens want Montenegro in the EU. It is in the interest of the ruling parties to fulfill the wishes of such a large majority of citizens. Everyone assumes that, as a member of NATO, Montenegro will continue on its European path. Any deviation would be an additional burden on the negotiations themselves. Croatia has a national interest in a pro-European Montenegro continuing its path. Of course, there are those in Montenegro and beyond who do not want this and have different interests. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić publicly expresses displeasure with Montenegro's European path. An independent and European Montenegro does not suit Vučić and his interests. We will see what the development of the situation will bring, but we have expressed a desire for all existing negotiations to be concluded by 2030," Tonino Picula concluded.

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