Commentary election in montenegro: further towards the west

A clear vote for the EU and against Serbia and Russia: Montenegrin President Djukanovic has won the election again.

Champagne instead of Crimean champagne: incumbent Milo Djukanovic symbolically celebrates his re-election Photo: dpa

Anyone like Milo Djukanovic who has ruled his country in Montenegro for over thirty years is not met with only sympathy. Undemocratic potentates like Putin and Erdogan try to hold on to power using similar methods – once as president, then party leader, then prime minister, only to return as president again. In such systems, patronage systems and corruption are the rule.

Although these circumstances can be openly discussed in Montenegro, unlike in Turkey and Russia, and play a role in election campaigns, Djukanovic has once again succeeded in winning a majority with 54 percent of the vote.

The voters not only voted for the socialist, they were faced with the decision of giving the country a direction. Should it continue on its current path of Western ties – Montenegro has been a member of NATO since June of last year and would soon like to become an EU member – or should it, as the strongest opposition party wants, tie itself to Serbia and Russia? The vote was clear.

The failed coup attempt by radical Serbs led by members of the Russian secret service in October 2016 with the aim of killing Djukanovic was already a preliminary decision. The majority of Montenegrins have now once again chosen the West.

Montenegro is the only state in the Western Balkans where no ethnic cleansing has taken place

Djukanovic deserves credit for freeing the small country of just under 700,000 inhabitants from its association with Serbia and saving it from the mistakes of Serbian policy. Montenegro is the only state in the Western Balkans in which no ethnic cleansing has taken place. It has thus succeeded in binding the Albanian, Bosniak, Catholic and Muslim minorities to itself.

But he would not become a great figure in his country’s history until he allowed accession to the EU to pave the way for a true democratization of society-particularly with regard to the independence of the judiciary. This is what the third, albeit numerically small force, consisting of parties critical of Djukanovic and civil society, is demanding. It wants to build a Western state in Montenegro without any ifs or buts.

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