Montenegro: new president - more Europe?

Jakov Milatović (36) of the Europe Now movement has won the presidential election run-off in Montenegro. The incumbent Milo Djukanović had been in power - sometimes as president, sometimes as prime minister - for over 30 years and led the country to independence in 2006. Milatović won also thanks to pro-Serbian votes. Commentators analyse the complex situation.

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Jutarnji list (HR) /

A political grab bag

Milatović's intentions are completely unclear, Jutarnji list points out:

“Now the young, 36-year-old Jakov Milatović will be the head of state - a kind of political mystery, but also (and in Montenegro this is decisive) an identitary one. ... Are the people of Montenegro, who see themselves as Montenegrins [and not as Serbs or Albanians], turning into the ethnic opposition, or even a minority in their own country? ... Fears that Montenegro could become Russia's Trojan horse within the Nato institutions are causing tongues to wag.”

Večer (SI) /

Milatović wants to join the EU

The new president will lean less toward Serbia than many believe, predicts Večer:

“Milatović has an economics degree from Oxford, he was a visiting student in the US, Vienna and Rome. He worked as an employee of the Slovenian bank NLB, then at Deutsche Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. ... Milatović is not so much a protagonist of the Serbian world - which many see as the long arm of Russia - but a neoliberal whose actions will be based on financial pragmatism. So the fear that under his leadership Montenegro could become the first country to leave Nato is unfounded. He is more likely to seek to fulfil his promise that Montenegro will become an EU member in his five-year term.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Leaning more towards Serbia

Those who assume that Milatović will bring the country more in line with the EU could be mistaken, warns the taz:

“Montenegro should align itself with Europe but also with Serbia, he declared during the campaign. The fact that he has adopted Serbia's version of history and blames Croatia and Bosnia for the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s without mentioning the Serbian crimes in Vukovar, Dubrovnik and Srebrenica is part of this strategy. ... Let's not forget, however, that election loser Djukanović won 40 percent of the vote. The outcome of the power struggle between the two camps has not yet been decided.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Everything at stake here

Only after the parliamentary elections in June will it be clear where the country is heading, Jutarnji list believes:

“Milo Djukanović was beaten because he failed to secure a strong and accepted successor and didn't do enough to bolster the sovereignist movement that could have opposed the pro-Serbian and pro-Russian faction. ... In this way he jeopardised everything he did for the country in restoring independence and strengthening Montenegro's national and cultural identity. But parliamentary elections will take place in three months, and they will show whether after the changes at the top Montenegro will become just another 'jewel' in Vučić's 'Serbian world' or drift towards new divisions that could even call its national survival into question.”