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Serbia Revokes Expulsion Of Montenegrin Ambassador

Montenegrin Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic
Montenegrin Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic

Serbia has revoked its decision to expel Montenegro's ambassador a day after declaring the envoy persona non grata in a tit-for-tat move.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic announced the decision on November 29 after a meeting with President Aleksandar Vucic and after consulting Montenegrin Serbs, according to RFE/RL’s Balkan Service.

"We decided that Serbia already tonight unilaterally revokes the decision on expelling Montenegro's ambassador," Brnabic told reporters. “Good relations with Montenegro are above all important to us.”

She expressed hope that the move would be interpreted in Podgorica as an act of goodwill and that Serbia would continue to build relations with Montenegro.

“We are once again extending a hand of cooperation and friendship,” Brnabic said.

Serbia declared Montenegro's ambassador persona non grata and ordered him expelled from the country on November 28 after Montenegro declared Serbia's envoy persona non grata and expelled him.

Vucic said Serbia "made a good move," adding that it is up to Serbia to show that it "wants the best and brotherly relations" with Montenegro.

Montenegrin Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic earlier on November 29 criticized the outgoing government's decision to expel the Serbian ambassador just days before the planned inauguration of a new, pro-Serb cabinet.

Krivokapic said on November 29 on Twitter that he regretted the expulsion, announced on November 28, of Serbian Ambassador to Montenegro Vladimir Bozovic.

“Such acts are not in the spirit of the European path and good regional cooperation of friendly countries,” Zdravko Krivokapic tweeted. He lamented that the outgoing regime, even in its last days, did not "shy away from the polarization of society and the deepening of divisions."

The Montenegrin Foreign Ministry cited "long and continuous meddling in the internal affairs of Montenegro" as the reason for declaring Bozovic persona non grata and expelling him.

Montenegro remains deeply divided among people seeking closer ties with traditional allies Serbia and Russia, and those who view Montenegro as an independent state allied with the West.

Montenegro and Serbia were part of a joint country before an independence referendum in 2006 led to Montenegro splitting off.

The country is now set to be led by a pro-Serb coalition that is to be voted into office during a parliament session next week following the defeat of the long-ruling pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists in August.

The coalition’s most powerful party is the Democratic Front (DF), which seeks closer ties with Serbia and Russia and is backed by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Its partners, however, insist that Montenegro remain on its pro-Western course.

Krivokapic said the new government would work to improve Montenegro’s relations with Serbia.

"We will promote a truly good neighborly policy with Belgrade, as well as with everyone in the region, on the principle of sovereignty, independence and noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries," Krivokapic tweeted.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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