Wednesday

18th Oct 2017

Interview

EU warned of Russian 'peril' in Western Balkans

  • Dukanovic (r) at the Nato summit in Warsaw (Photo: nato.int)

Russia is actively working with “strongholds” of anti-EU and anti-Nato sentiment in the Western Balkans in order to compete for influence, Montenegro’s prime minister, Milo Dukanovic has warned.

He told EUobserver in an interview at the recent Nato summit in Warsaw that up to one third of people in the region opposed Western integration.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Montenegro will become Nato's 29th member once national ratifications are wrapped up (Photo: nato.int)

He said people in the lowest income brackets in a part of Europe where average GDP per capita is just €6,000 did not see the long term benefit of EU economic reforms and feared the “novelty” of EU political values.

He also said that these people “still cherish a certain emotional attachment to Russia from the past”.

“They want to see Montenegro stuck in the jaws of the retrograde past. They’re afraid of everything that’s a novelty because they don’t have enough self-confidence to adjust to the changes”, he said.

He said this made them “very good prey” for Russian propaganda, but he said Russia also supported the anti-Western minority in other ways.

“They [the Russians] have their strongholds, the role of which is to oppose Nato and the EU, not only in our country, but in all the countries of the region”, Dukanovic said.

“These minorities have very frequent contacts with Moscow. It is clear Russia is very supportive and provides the logistics for certain political parties, NGOs, and media outlets which are trying to hamper Montenegro’s path to Euro-Atlantic integration”, he said.

“Do I see this as a peril? Yes, I do”, he said.

Dukanovic has held high office in Podgorice, either as prime minister or as president, since 1991.

He shepherded the country to starting EU entry talks in 2012 and to being invited to join Nato in December last year.

But he faced a threat to his authority in street protests that began in October 2015 and lasted until January.

The protests, which called for him to abandon Nato and to step down over corruption allegations, included sporadic violence and caused a split in his ruling coalition.

He told EUobserver that Montenegro has now reached a point of no return in terms of its EU and Nato future, but that other nations in the region are not there yet.

He urged the EU to stop navel-gazing about enlargement and to implement a more “assertive” strategy vis-a-vis its Russian “adversary”.

"Wherever there is no EU or no Nato, other forces fill the space", he said, referring to Russia, but also to radical Islam, which is gaining a foothold in the region.

He said the EU should help to lift people out of poverty more quickly and make a bigger show of diplomatic support for Balkan allies.

He said that the Berlin Process, a German initiative of holding summits of EU and Balkan leaders, is the right “therapy” for the region’s ills.

Speaking to EUobserver shortly after the UK’s vote to leave the EU, Dukanovic said Brexit has so far had little impact either on public opinion or on state policies in Balkan countries.

He urged Europe to continue integration despite the UK decision.

“All of us need a Europe which is prestigious and globally competitive. If it is united, Europe will be more competitive and more stable”, he said.

He added that if EU fatigue delayed Montenegro’s accession, then the “process of Europeanisation” was “no less important” because it meant that “day by day, people in the region are living a better quality of life”.

Nato's Russia-deterrent takes shape in Warsaw

Canada, Germany, the UK and the US to take the lead in defending Europe from potential Russian aggression. France to also send troops, despite saying Russia is its "partner".

Serb minister love-bombs EU

The EU and Serbia have moved a step closer despite regional tensions, with a Serb minister calling the EU "the best place in the world".

News in Brief

  1. EU summit moved to previous building after fumes scare
  2. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  3. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  4. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  5. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'
  6. EU states pledge 24,000 resettlement places so far
  7. US ready for arms sale to update Greece's F-16 fleet
  8. Austria's Green leaders step down following election failure

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU okays Privacy Shield's first year
  2. EU seeks to decrypt messages in new anti-terror plan
  3. EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote
  4. Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis
  5. How EU can ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia's legacy survives
  6. Juncker dinner to warm up relations with eastern EU
  7. Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle
  8. The unbearable lightness of leadership