Montenegro government criticized for again delaying sanctions against Russia
Montenegrin opposition parties and civic activists criticized the government on Thursday after it again postponed the implementation of European Union sanctions against Russia due to internal disagreements. The government postponed a decision for the fifth consecutive week, despite saying on March 1 that it would join the sanctions.
A lawmaker from the largest opposition party, the former ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, Milos Nikolic, accused the government of ruining the country’s reputation.
“The government continues to damage the country’s international reputation…Those who are silent about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine are still calling themselves European politicians,” Nikolic posted on Twitter.
Montenegro said it would adopt EU measures to ban Russian overflights from its airspace and access to its airports, halt transactions with the Russian Central Bank, join the Swift ban on seven Russian banks and suspend the broadcasting of Russian state media.
According to reports, the government postponed action on sanctions after a majority of ministers did not back Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic’s proposal to form a coordination body to implement the measures.
The Montenegrin Law on International Restrictive Measures stipulates that the government must officially confirm restrictions before they are implemented, and then send a list of measures to state institutions, which must implement them.
Ahead of the government session, Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic accused Krivokapic of avoiding imposing sanctions measures on Russia, warning that he would not support the formation of the Coordinating Body as long as that government was in orders.
“If we want the Coordinating Body to work, the government must first confirm the sanctions. I am sorry that we did not take such a decision immediately because it is a disgrace for the state of Montenegro,” Abazovic told media.
On Thursday, Milica Kovacevic of the NGO Center for Democratic Transition, CDT, said the postponement of sanctions showed the government had never been serious about them. “Their attempts to evade sanctions against Russia clearly show us that they were never honest,” Kovacevic told the media.
Opinion in Montenegro is deeply divided over Russia and its invasion of Ukraine. The country’s large ethnic Serb population is traditionally pro-Russian, other communities are much less so.
So while the smallest bloc in government, Black on White, supports EU sanctions, the largest bloc, the pro-Serbian Democratic Front, opposes them, saying they will harm relations with Russia. .
On March 15, EU Ambassador Oriana Christina Popa called on authorities to implement sanctions against Russia, saying the practical enforcement of the measures was crucial.
On March 7, Russia added Montenegro to a list of enemy states for joining EU sanctions.