PODGORICA: After weeks of negotiations, Montenegro’s parliament appointed a new government today, a coalition of pro-European and pro-Serb parties expected to lead the small Balkan country in its bid to join the European Union.
The new government, led by economist Milojko Spajic of the Europe Now Movement, will have 18 ministries and five deputy prime ministers. It will include the centre-right pro-European Democrats, the pro-Serbian Socialist People’s Party, and five parties of the Albanian minority.
“Our four main foreign policy priorities are full membership…in the EU, active, credible membership in Nato, improvement of good relations with neighbour, and strengthening of the country’s role in multilateral organisations,” Spajic told deputies.
He said economic policies will aim to improve the living standards of Montenegro’s population of only 620,000, and include reforms enabling more fiscal revenues, investment, a better business climate, and judiciary.
Following an overnight debate, 46 deputies in the 81-seat parliament backed the government.
The pro-Serb and pro-Russia alliance For A Better Montenegro, led by Andrija Mandic, agreed to vote for Spajic’s cabinet in exchange for the position of parliament speaker and four ministerial posts after a government reshuffle tentatively scheduled for next year.
According to the World Bank, the economy of Montenegro which unilaterally adopted the euro in 2002 as its de facto currency, and mainly relies on revenues from its Adriatic tourism, is expected to grow by 4.8% in 2023.
Montenegro joined Nato in 2017, a year after a botched coup attempt that the then government blamed on Russian agents and Serbian nationalists.
Russia dismissed the accusation as “absurd”, and the government of neighbouring Serbia denied involvement.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Montenegro, unlike Serbia, joined EU sanctions against Moscow, sent aid to Ukraine, and expelled a number of Russian diplomats. The Kremlin has placed Montenegro on its list of unfriendly states.