Montenegro is getting ready for a severe geopolitical conflict.
The nation’s upcoming presidential elections are scheduled on March 19. Notwithstanding the pro-Serbian Assembly members’ unlawful limitations on some presidential powers, the president still has a lot of influence, significantly if he rises to prominence. Consider the present president, Milo Djukanovic.
The matter of integrity
These elections are significant because maintaining Montenegro’s independence and integrity is critical in its modern history, possibly for the first time ever.
The outcome of the elections will provide an answer to the question of where Montenegro is going next. Pro-Serbian forces have almost elevated the country’s division along national lines to the level of national conflict.
In the event that the Montenegrin-patriotic candidate wins, it either maintains the current pace of European integration. If the pro-Serbian forces sponsored by Russia succeed, it may also revert to the “Serbian-Russian world” of the past.
In a highly challenging scenario, Montenegro is about to hold new elections.
The country’s progress toward European integration halted under Dritan Abazovich’s technical rule, and the EU expects Podgorica to live up to its commitments.
With the help of the Serbian Orthodox Church, politicians and ministers from the pro-Serbian “Democratic Front” are working to assure the “Serbian world’s” success, jeopardizing Montenegro’s independence. Investors anticipate stability, upholding the law, and a sincere effort to combat corruption.
Governmental organizations are immobilized. The state of the economy is on the verge of a crisis.
Belgrade and Moscow are the sources of the worldwide hostility between Serbs and Montenegrins, increasing momentum and posing the prospect of an open conflict.
Pro-European against pro-Russian
Milo Djukanovic, the leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists, and Andrija Mandich, the leader of the “New Serbian Democracy,” will engage in significant combat.
Let’s begin with the current president, charismatic, exceptional, and contentious Milo Djukanovych. He is accused of corruption and of establishing a paternalistic system of government by some in the nation.
But there is no denying that he was responsible for restoring Montenegro’s independence in 2006, launching the process of joining the EU, and bringing the country into NATO in 2017.
Andrija Mandich, who is scarcely a Montenegrin patriot, was his opponent.
One of the founders of the pro-Serbian party “Democratic Front,” he is an outspokenly Serbian-pro-Russian politician (which, as they say in Montenegro, is financed by the Russian Federation).
Mandi’s victory will result in the slowing of European integration, attempts to have Montenegro leave NATO, and the country becoming once again a puppet of Serbia, as it was in 1918. (then, the pro-Serbian deputies of the Montenegrin parliament decided to join Serbia, depriving the country of almost 100 years of independence).
Probable distribution of votes
Draginja Vuksanovich Stankovich, a supporter of the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro, entered the contest.
A pro-European party, the Social Democratic Party, was founded by Ranko Krivokapich, once Djukanovych’s closest political ally and, incidentally, a big supporter of Ukraine.
Stankovi made history by running as the first female candidate in the most recent presidential elections in Montenegro’s contemporary history. She re-entered the conflict in 2023.
It is challenging to picture a woman elected president in the relatively patriarchal Montenegro.
Nonetheless, this action exemplifies the contemporary European perspective on gender equality.
The civic movement “Europe Today” is a new party that became the critical winner of last year’s local elections. This success gives reason to expect that the candidate from this political force – Yakov Milatovich – can enter the second round of the elections.
However, his chances are negatively affected by rumors about the party’s ties with the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is an active leader of the “Serbian world.”
Aleksa Bečič, head of another party, “Democrats of Montenegro” and former speaker of the Skupshchyna, also entered the fray.
After finding mistakes in the paperwork registration, the State Election Commission declined to register Andria Mandich as a candidate at the start of the year. A minor scandal was quickly resolved after flaws were discovered in time.
Yet the Ministry of Internal Affairs unexpectedly declared that it would investigate Mandich’s Serbian citizenship four days before the registration deadline. We’ll soon learn how this scandal will play out. Danilovich was the “Demfront’s” insurance policy against the potential departure of its leading candidate.
Ahead of the Montenegro presidential elections, Belgrade and Moscow started their preparations.
Aleksandar Olenik, a member of the Serbian parliament, claims that some candidates who publicly oppose Montenegro receive assistance from Serbia and Russia, including financial aid.
The Kremlin is open about its desire to undermine the stability of the Western Balkans as a whole, not just Montenegro.
The Serbian media, particularly the famous color tabloids, actively took up Mandi’s cause by attempting to weaken each pro-Montenegrin candidate and operating by the tried-and-true maxim “deceive and invent, something will stay” in the reader’s mind.
Ultimately, it comes down to a civilizational decision: can Montenegro, whose majority of the population sees itself as belonging to the European Union, maintain its independence? Or returning to the “renewed” Yugoslavia with curators in the Russian and Serbian embassies.
Photo: EPA-EFE/BORIS PEJOVIC