Today, Milo Djukanovic is back as officially and democratically elected president of Montenegro after his announcement of retirement in 2016. He was successively Prime Minister from 1991 to 1998, President of the Republic of Montenegro from 1998 to 2002, back as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2006, from 2008 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2016. Indeed, after running Montenegro for almost a quarter of a century, leading to Serbia’s independence in 2006, and then joining NATO, Djukanovic is more than used to politics.
Milo Djukanovic stands as a precious ally for the West and intends to continue Montenegro’s application to the European Union, started in 2012. He also recognized Kosovo’s independence which angered Moscow, Belgrade and Serbia and his political opponents. Moreover, last March, Montenegro expelled a Russian diplomat in solidarity with its Western allies after the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in the UK.
The European Commission issued a favourable opinion on Montenegro’s application and identified 7 key priorities that would need to be addressed for negotiations to begin, and the Council granted its candidate status. As of today, 27 negotiating Chapters are opened, including the rule of law Chapters (Chapter 23: “Judiciary and fundamental rights” and Chapter 24: “Justice, freedom and security”. 3 Chapters are provisionally closed: “Science and research” (Chapter 25), “Education and culture” (Chapter 26) and “External relations” (Chapter 30). Moreover, the Montenegrin government signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement and formally agreed on an association with the European Community and its Member States, thereby accepting responsibility for its European future. The Agreement was unanimously supported by all parliamentary parties and ratified in the Parliament of Montenegro on 13 November 2007. It entered into force on May 1st, 2010. The European Union and Montenegro also reached agreements on Visa Facilitation and Readmission which took effect on January 1st, 2008. It allows Montenegro’s citizens a visa-free access to all 25 Schengen member states within the Union, as well as three states outside the European Union; Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
The Commission adopted a strategy entitled “A credible enlargement perspective and a strengthened EU commitment to the Western Balkans”, confirming that the European future of the region is a strategic investment in a stable, solid and united Europe based on common values. And as tensions grow with Russia, to have an ally such as Milo Djukanovic is more than welcome for Europe. It is much more important provided the upcoming General elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 7th, 2018 and the recent allegations of Russia actively supporting indigenous political and paramilitary actors seeking to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina.