The ratification of Montenegro’s NATO membership by a parliamentary vote instead of a referendum is a violation of democratic norms, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, adding that Moscow reserves the right to protect its national security after the move.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has expressed “deep regret that the current leadership of [Montenegro] and its Western backers didn’t heed the voice of conscience and reason.”
“The adoption of fundamental acts, affecting the key issues of state security, by the vote of individual MPs on the basis of a formal majority without taking into account the opinion of the country’s people is a demonstrative act of violation of all democratic norms and principles,” the statement read.
The ministry said that the will of around half of the population was ignored by the Montenegrin authorities with the NATO vote.
“What cynicism should one have to state unabashedly that there was no need to clarify the opinion of the people for such a decision, like the Montenegro president, Filip Vujanovic, did the other day,” it said.
During the “shameful” NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 there were casualties in Montenegro as well, with children being among the victims, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Blaming those deaths on Serbia, which is accused of having provoked the interference from the US-led military bloc, is a “hypocritical” interpretation of events, the ministry said.
“Those who voted in the Skupstina [parliament] for joining NATO under the pretext of an imaginary Russian threat should take responsibility for the consequences of implementing the plans of external forces, seeking to deepen the division in Europe and the Balkans, drive a wedge into the historically rooted friendly relations of Montenegrins with Serbs and Russians,” the statement read.
The Russian ministry said that “given the potential of Montenegro, the North Atlantic Alliance is unlikely to receive significant ‘added value’ thanks to the inclusion of its 29th member.
“But Moscow can’t ignore the strategic consequences of this step. Therefore, we reserve the right to adopt such decisions that are aimed at protecting our interests and national security,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Earlier on Friday, the Montenegro parliament ratified the law on the country’s accession to NATO, with all 46 lawmakers (out of the total of 81) present at the session supporting the country’s inclusion into the bloc.
The move took place in absence of the main opposition party, the Democratic Front, which instead staged a protest, demanding a referendum on whether to join NATO.
The vote in the Montenegrin parliament followed the decision by US President Donald Trump to approve the country’s membership bid on April 11. Accepting Montenegro into NATO will send a message to other aspirants that the “door to membership in the Euro-Atlantic community of nations remains open,” the White House said at the time.
Montenegro, a country with a population of around 622,000 people that seceded from Serbia in 2006, was granted a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2009. Since then the country remained split on the issue, with protests against NATO across the country only intensifying as the republic drew closer to becoming a member of the bloc.