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Montenegrin Opposition Asks White House Adviser To Help Halt NATO Bid

The Montenegrin opposition leaders didn't explain why they had addressed Steve Bannon rather than members of the U.S. Senate with their claim.

Two pro-Russian opposition leaders in Montenegro who recently had their parliamentary immunity stripped have written to White House senior adviser Steve Bannon, seeking his help to halt the Balkan country's bid to join NATO.

The Associated Press reported on March 3 that opposition lawmakers Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic had written a letter to Bannon telling him that the U.S. Senate should vote against Montenegro's accession.

AP said the letter alleged the Obama administration had given "false facts" about Montenegro's readiness to join the alliance in a report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September 2016.

The letter claimed Montenegro had not met conditions for membership and was not able to ensure its own security.

The two urged Bannon to get a "clear picture" of the situation before final approval is granted.

"Montenegrin society does not have a unique attitude regarding the admission to NATO as falsely alleged by the former administration in Washington," the letter said.

"In reality, Montenegro does not meet the criteria for admission to the Euro-Atlantic alliance because it cannot ensure its own internal stability and democratic system," the letter claimed.

Mandic and Knezevic did not explain why they had addressed the senior White House adviser rather than members of the U.S. Senate with their claim.

Their letter was written on behalf of the Democratic Front, a coalition of opposition parties in Montenegro.

The two did not say if they would be willing to support a NATO bid at a later date.

On February 15, Montenegro's parliament stripped Mandic and Knezevic of their immunity over allegations they were involved in an alleged foiled election-day plot to overthrow the government and block Podgorica's NATO membership bid.

After an arrest warrant was issued by a special prosecutor, Montenegro's state prosecutor overruled the order -- saying Mandic and Knezevic did not have to be placed under arrest pending further investigation.

Russia opposes Podgorica's NATO membership bid.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Balkan Insight
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