Montenegro approves new minority government focused on joining EU

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CETINJE, Montenegro April 28 (Reuters) – Montenegro’s parliament on Thursday approved a new government, comprising moderate parties that are both pro-European and pro-Serb, led by Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic, who said its key goal will be to unblock reforms needed to join the European Union.

The new minority government secured the support of 46 deputies in the 81-seat parliament, which means it may face difficulties in pushing through key laws that must be backed by a two-third majority.

“The new government will rest on two main pillars, the rule of law and economic development,” Abazovic said. “Montenegro needs political and social stability above all.”

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The new government replaces the cabinet of former prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic following a no-confidence motion.

Montenegro, a NATO member which began accession negotiations with the EU in 2012, is deeply divided between conservative pro-Serb and pro-Russian parties with links to the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church, and civic-oriented pro-EU parties.

The conservative pro-Serb parties boycotted the vote on the new government.

Abazovic, whose civic party URA was a member of the former ruling coalition, was among critics of the former government over its sluggish handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, poor record in attracting investment and a slowdown in European integration.

He told lawmakers the new government’s main focus will be the reforms required by the EU so that Montenegro can ask to speed up its accession process in the light of the new situation created by the war in Ukraine.

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Abazovic said that five government priorities will be the fight against corruption, more sustainable investments and development, protection of environment and better care for children and the youth.

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Reporting by Stevo Vasiljevic, writing by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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