Montenegro's Foreign Ministry declared the Serbian diplomat Vladimir Bozovic a persona non grata. He became involved in the domestic politics of the country. Belgrade reacted immediately.
Montenegro and Serbia have expelled each other's ambassadors. Montenegro's foreign ministry declared the Serbian ambassador Vladimir Božović an undesired person because he had interfered in the internal affairs of the country. The background to this was controversial statements by the diplomat on the history of both countries. Belgrade then declared the Montenegrin ambassador Tarzan Milošević to be an undesirable person and called on him to leave the country within 72 hours.
The dispute was triggered by a statement by Mr. Božović regarding a conference in 1918 at which the unification of Montenegro with Serbia and accession to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was decided. The Serbian ambassador on Friday described the union as "liberation" and an "act of free will".
Montenegro's foreign ministry accused Božović of having "degraded the country that has shown him diplomatic hospitality" with his statements. In 2018, the parliament in Podgorica had declared the resolutions of 1918 null and void in a symbolic resolution. Montenegro split from Serbia in 2006, but debates about the national identity of the small Balkan state continue to this day. Almost 30 percent of the country's 620,000 inhabitants are ethnic Serbs.
Decision before voting on new government
The move by the government in Podgorica took place four days before it was due to be replaced. On Wednesday, parliament is due to vote on a new government backed by a broad opposition alliance. In Montenegro, President Milo Djukanović has ruled in various functions for almost 30 years. He led the small Balkan country to independence from Serbia in 2006 and to NATO in 2017.
The dominant force in the new government coalition is the pro-Serb and pro-Russian Democratic Front. The smaller allies are pro-Western, but like the DF want to break Djukanović's alleged omnipotence. In the coalition negotiations it was agreed that NATO membership and the EU accession process should not be called into question.
Instability in the NATO realm
Serbia's President, Mr. Aleksandar Vucic, has kept a very close relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Both countries did not recognise the independent Kosovo state. After Mr. Vucic's elections, Mr. Putin congratulated him in the old Soviet fashion saying, that it was "for the benefit of fraternal nations". Russians are utilising Serbia for the monitoring of US bases in Italy. Putin also installed an intelligence GRU centre that observes movements of NATO in the Adriatic.
Some senior analysts on Russia interpret a new conflict in Montenegro as Russia's attempt to portray the pro-NATO politicians as intolerant and warmongers.
In addition to the pandemic, nearly every important NATO country suffered terrorist attack or serious political breakdown in the last few months. France, Belgium, Germany and Austria have repeatedly experienced the terror, while Greece, Italy and now Montenegro, the most recent member of the Alliance have their political scene destabilised.
These developments occur as Ukraine has been fighting resurgence of the Russian influence with the strong support for the pro-Putin political groups on the political scene.