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MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov during a visit to Montenegro on January 18-19 reaffirmed Russia’s fundamental stance against the further expansion of NATO. Meshkov was in Podgorica for political consultations over bilateral, regional and European agendas with the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Igor Jovovic and general director of the General Directorate for Bilateral Relations Liliana Toskovic.
Meshkov was received by Montenegro’s President Filip Vujanovic and had a conversation with Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and European Integration Minister Igor Luksic.
"In the course of further contacts with the Montenegrin partner Russia’s fundamental stance was explained against NATO’s further expansion and the artificial involvement of Montenegro in that alliance at this no easy moment in Russia-NATO relations," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"As bilateral relations were discussed, it was stated that Podgorica’s decision to join the European Union’s anti-Russian sanctions had caused a considerable reduction [by 90%] of bilateral trade," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Montenegro "underscored its interest in correcting the existing situation, which strongly contradicts the interests of the people of Russia and Montenegro and undermines traditional friendship between them," the Foreign Ministry said.
"There has been an exchange of opinion on the situation in Southeastern Europe and on a number of other topical European and world problems," the Foreign Ministry said.
During his stay in Podgorica Meshkov met with the heads of the leading opposition parties. "They reviewed the steps they were taking to arrange for Montenegro’s national referendum regarding the country’s membership of NATO. Montenegrin politicians stressed the importance of strengthening the entire range of relations with Russia, including inter-parliamentary and inter-party cooperation," the Foreign Ministry said.