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PODGORICA – Thousands of opposition supporters demonstrated in Montenegro against the possibility of the country’s membership in NATO and called for a referendum on the issue.
Should NATO membership be decided by the parliament without a referendum, this would bring Montenegro to the brink of civil war, said the head of the New Serb Democracy (NSD) party, Andrija Mandic, on Saturday night during a rally in Podgorica, DWN wrote.
About 2,000- 5,000 demonstrators reportedly participated in the protests. Activists waved Russian and Serbian flags and chanted slogans such as “Putin is Serb” and “Mother Russia”.
Earlier this month, NATO invited Montenegro to start accession talks to join the military alliance. In response to the move, Russia warned that it would take “countermeasures” to protect its interests.
NATO’s further expansion to the East could further deteriorate relations between the West and Russia, which perceives the alliance’s enlargement as a threat to its security and an attempt of geopolitical isolation. In 2009, the alliance membership was extended to Croatia and Albania.
According to reports, Montenegro could become a NATO member in about one and a half years. However, a survey carried out in October 2015 showed that only 50.2 per cent of Montenegrins support NATO membership.
Large parts of the population still keep in mind NATO air strikes during the Kosovo War in 1999 and feel distrust towards the alliance. Moreover, Russian influence in Montenegro is still strong, with hundreds of thousands of Russians visiting the country annually.
Source: InSerbia News (Montenegro)