Violence after elections in Montenegro

Riots threaten stability in the region (Press Release)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) is deeply worried about the recent outbreaks of violence in the aftermath of the parliamentary elections in Montenegro. After the opposition achieved a narrow majority in the elections of August 30, 2020, several offices of minority associations were attacked during the celebrations for the election victory – for example in the city of Pljevlja. "The windows of an office of the Islamic community were smashed, and threat messages were left behind," reported Belma Zulcic, Director of the STP section Bosnia and Herzegovina. "The riots might destabilize the entire region of the Western Balkans.

The religious-nationalist and pro-Serbian opposition parties are against Montenegro's imminent accession to the EU and are striving for closer ties with Serbia and Russia. "For quite a while already, there have been signs that Russian and Serbian security forces are trying to destabilize Montenegro, especially since the country joined NATO in 2017," Zulcic explained. Some of the opposition parties even tried to fuel insecurity and hatred during the election campaign, by glorifying war criminals and promoting the erection of monuments to fascists and criminals. "The EU and NATO have a special responsibility to prevent an escalation in Montenegro and to ensure that members of minority groups are safe," Zulcic added. "A destabilization of the country would affect the entire region and further delay the EU accession of the Western Balkan countries." As a NATO member, Montenegro should contribute to the stability of the region.

The opposition parties, which now occupy 41 of the total of 81 seats in the Montenegrin parliament, have already announced that they are aiming to leave NATO and to distance the country from the EU. Further, they want to repeal the referendum for Montenegro's independence from 2006 and will no longer recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state. "Announcements like this are dangerous – especially against the background of the intensive preparations for an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo," Zulcic warned. "This could lead to a renewed escalation of violence beyond Montenegro."

According to the last census of 2011, there are about 620,000 people living in Montenegro. With 44.98 percent of the population, most of them belong to the Montenegrin ethnic group – while 28.73 percent are Serbian, 8.65 percent Bosniaks, and 4.91 Albanians. There are also various smaller minorities.