21st Sep 2017

Montenegro swings towards independence

The Balkan republic of Montenegro is set to become Europe's newest state with initial results showing it voted ‘yes' to independence on Sunday, which could dissolve its union with neighbouring Serbia.

On Monday morning (22 May) unofficial results show that 55.3 percent voted in favour and 44.6 voted against secession from Serbia.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

55.3 percent is just above the threshold for secession to be legitimate according to EU-imposed standards.

88 percent of Montenegrins turned out to vote at the around 1100 ballot stations, the highest turnout since the country's first democratic elections in the 1990s.

Prime minister Milo Djukanovic claimed early on Monday that his aim for independence of the small Adriatic republic had been successful.

"Today, the Montenegrin citizens voted to restore their statehood," said the prime minister after the vote, according to Associated Press.

Mr Djukanovic added that he was confident of winning "a clear majority that will lead Montenegro to its independence."

In the capital, Podgorica, crowds of independence supporters swarmed the city centre, sounding car horns and waving red Montenegrin flags in a victory celebration ahead of any official poll results.

But the opposition leader and head of the "no" campaign, Predrag Bulatovic, said his camp would not declare defeat because of an "arbitrary estimate by a monitoring group."

"The results are not final until they are confirmed by the state referendum commission," he said urging the government to ask its supporters to leave the streets, according to BBC News.

The pro-union camp says Montenegro with its 650,000 inhabitants is too small to survive alone without the jobs, education and healthcare its larger neighbour has to offer.

Mr Djukanovic, on the other hand, has argued that an independent Montenegro will have a stronger economy and will be a better candidate for admission into the EU.

EU threshold

The 55 percent threshold, set by the EU, has been questioned by some, however,

"We should not forget that the EU community is of sovereign states. That also means that the EU should not engage in a nation's internal business. It is therefore completely dissatisfactory that the EU has involved itself in Montenegro's referendum for independence," said Danish Liberal MEP Karin Riis-Jorgensen.

The MEP also said the EU would have a "big moral problem" if 54 percent of Montenegrins voted for independence.

Montenegro originally wanted to decide the referendum by a simple majority but Brussels had it changed so that a 55 percent qualified majority is needed.

A quick road to EU membership

The EU has accepted that if Montenegro votes for independence, the current joint state of Serbia-Montenegro can pursue EU membership separately.

Montenegro's loose union with Serbia was established in 2003, replacing what was left of the former Yugoslavia.

Spain arrests Catalan officials

Armed Spanish police have arrested Catalan officials and seized ballots for an independence referendum, prompting appeals for EU help.


The rise of the German alt-right

Ahead of Sunday's German elections, a growing number of anti-establishment, anti-Islam websites have created an echo chamber for the radical right.


The rise of the German alt-right

Ahead of Sunday's German elections, a growing number of anti-establishment, anti-Islam websites have created an echo chamber for the radical right.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan leader decries Spanish government intervention
  2. Hungary set for fresh campaign against public enemy Soros
  3. Iceland's PM leads in polls ahead of October elections
  4. Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds cancel referendum
  5. Ireland to hold referendum on ownership of water
  6. Report: May to offer €20bn as Brexit bill in Florence speech
  7. Merkel poised to win election despite CDU dip in polls
  8. EU unveils cyber security ideas

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressCommends the German Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  3. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  4. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  7. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  8. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  9. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  10. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  11. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  12. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted