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Former Montenegrin PM Says Russia Wants To Destroy EU

Former Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic (file photo)

A former prime minister of Montenegro has appealed to the European Union to curb Russia's "destructive" influence in the Balkans.

Milo Djukanovic made the statement on March 14, several months after what prosecutors said was an attempted coup to overthrow Montenegro's pro-Western government and prevent the country joining NATO.

Djukanovic stepped down after the alleged pro-Russian plot in October.

He said Moscow "is waging a kind of war against Europe and the West as a whole" and is threatening "the very existence of the European Union" by supporting right-wing groups which are against the 28-nation bloc.

"Montenegro has found itself in the line of fire," Djukanovic told the Associated Press. "But, I'm sure Montenegro is not the main target."

Djukanovic led Montenegro for over 20 years, and brought the former Yugoslav republic of 600,000 people to the threshold of NATO. It has also been the most advanced state in the region on the path to EU membership.

"The Balkans appeared as a good terrain for the demonstration of force after Russia's campaigns in Ukraine and Syria," Djukanovic said. "With the example of Montenegro, [Russia] wanted to show that Europe and NATO cannot expand without its consent. I believe that this is the key message for the EU and NATO."

Montenegro's prosecutors have accused Russia and its secret-service operatives of plotting the election-day coup attempt that included alleged plans to kill Djukanovic and take over parliament. Some 20 people -- including two Russians -- have been accused of taking part.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement in the plot. But it has openly supported nationalist parties and groups opposed to Montenegro's NATO membership.

Djukanovic said he believes that Moscow will continue its bid to destabilize Montenegro with its "subversive" propaganda campaign.

With reporting by AP
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