April 14. 2024. 5:54

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New Montenegro president to pay first foreign visit to Brussels

Montenegro’s new president and former economy minister Jakov Milatović will go to Brussels for his first trip abroad, he said Monday, underscoring his election night pledge that he would take the small Adriatic country into the EU “within the next five years”.

Western-educated Milatović, 37, who was the deputy head of the Europe Now movement, ousted veteran Milo Djukanović in a presidential run-off ballot on Sunday.

“We started accession talks in 2012, but they have been frozen for a long time, though I think things are starting to change for the better,” Milatović said, according to Nezavisne Novine.

“I welcome the moves made by prosecutors in the area of the rule of law. I believe that we must walk even more resolutely in that direction and that, as president, I have to choose Brussels for my first visit.”

The announcement came despite an invitation from Aleksandar Vučić, the president of neighbouring Serbia, to visit Belgrade first. Milatović promised that he would also get around to visiting Serbia soon.

Some commentators have voiced concern that the new president might be inclined to deepen ties with Serbia, largely frozen under his predecessor Djukanović.

Others said he would focus on a steady pro-European course.

“Especially after he has been briefed by four or five Western embassies in Montenegro, he will know what to do, and he’ll be fine,” one insider told EURACTIV.

Commenting on the Montenegrin election, Serbia’s Vučić said he hoped they would result in better relations.

“Our policy and that of Djukanović went in completely opposite directions. I hope our relations will be better, but I am not euphoric. Let’s see what it will look like. I hope we can create better ties, that would be for the good of all.”

Vučić denied reports in the regional media that he had supported Milatović as someone who could bring Montenegro closer to Serbia, insisting that he had kept “responsibly silent” before and during the election.

Montenegro, which quit a state union with Serbia in 2006, is split down the middle between pro-Montenegro loyalists and those who see themselves as Serbs and oppose Montenegro’s independence.

Milatović is believed to be somewhat closer to the latter camp, but he said his top domestic priority was “internal reconciliation in Montenegro”.

“We may have different political views but I am sure we have the same aim – for Montenegro to be a reconciled country whose citizens all have the same chance to succeed in life.”

(Zoran Radosavljević | EURACTIV.com)