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A picture of a ripped NATO and Montenegro flag with a moose in the middle.

Montenegro has accused Russia of interfering in its 2016 parliamentary elections

Montenegro’s Media War: False Narratives Defined the Battle over NATO Membership

April 2020, Number 10.02

“Montenegro’s 2011 census (the country’s first after gaining independence) put the country’s population at 620,029. About 45% of the population declared themselves Montenegrins, while 29% said they were Serbs, 9% Bosniaks, 5% Albanians, 3% Muslims and less than 1% Croatian. The three major religious groups in the country are Orthodox Christians (72%) — who are divided betweenthe Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church; Muslims (19%) and Catholics (3%). The remaining population belongs to other religious groups, are atheists/agnostics or did not declare a religious affiliation.

A brief history lesson is needed to fully understand the reasons behind Russia’s interference in Montenegro’s efforts to realize its most important foreign policy goal since gaining independence in 2006. The relationship between Montenegro and Russia goes back to the reign of Tsar Peter the Great. Ties between the two royal families were strong, as were economic and cultural relations. Russia was a patron of Montenegro and pushed the belief that the two countries were “Orthodox brothers” since the dominant population of Montenegro then and today is Orthodox Christian. Russia has a long history of pursuing its geopolitical goals in the Balkans. But Montenegro’s access to the Adriatic Sea has always added an incentive for Russia to interfere. Montenegro gained access to the Adriatic Sea after the Congress of Berlin in 1878, when its sovereignty was recognized by those countries that had not previously accepted it. Diplomatic relations with Russia continued when Montenegro became one of Yugoslavia’s federal units

Excerpt from per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 10, No. 2, 2020: 54-60.

Marija Blagojević, a graduate of ESS-S 2018, is an Advisor to the president of the Parliament of Montenegro.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.