Montenegro may be set to join Open Balkan initiative

“Montenegro is making every effort to promote a policy of regional cooperation, reconciliation, coexistence, and better economic cohesion in the Western Balkans  Relations with Serbia are a priority – we are ready for intensive cooperation in all areas of common interest,” Abazović wrote on Twitter after the meeting. [EPA-EFE/BORIS PEJOVIC]

Montenegro could be poised to join the Open Balkan initiative as Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, whose country, together with Albania and North Macedonia are members, has invited Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazović to the ‘Open Balkan Summit’ in Ohrid on 7-8 June.

“Another great opportunity to discuss bilateral issues with Dritan Abazović during the World Economic Forum, but also to invite him once again to join us in the meeting of the ‘Open Balkans’ initiative in Ohrid,” Vučić wrote on Instagram.

The two leaders met in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.

“Montenegro is making every effort to promote a policy of regional cooperation, reconciliation, coexistence, and better economic cohesion in the Western Balkans  Relations with Serbia are a priority – we are ready for intensive cooperation in all areas of common interest,” Abazović wrote on Twitter after the meeting.

The Open Balkan initiative was launched in October 2019 by the leaders of Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia with aim of establishing an area without barriers to the movement of goods, people, services, and capital.

Kosovo, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, have refused to join, arguing that the initiative is redundant as it is a pale imitation of the more robust Berlin Process and because it would make members of the initiative and the region as a whole drift away from the EU.

Abazović, however, appears more willing than his predecessors to be persuaded to become a member of the Albanian and Serbian-led initiative. During an interview with Kosovo media in early May, he said he agreed with the initiative in principle.

Despite Abazović’s optimistic stance, Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović reiterated his opposition during a recent meeting with Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani.

According to Đukanović, the Open Balkan was launched at a “moment of depression” due to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s expected retirement and the EU’s refusal to advance the Balkan countries’ accession bids.

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