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Russian diplomat: Moscow will not exert pressure on Montenegro on issue of joining NATO

February 24, 2016, 12:33 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova emphasized that it is unacceptable to interfere into country's internal affairs and Montenegrins "should definitely be given the right to decide"

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© AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu

MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. Moscow will not exert pressure on the Montenegrin government on the issue of joining NATO, Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an interview with "Argymenty i Fakty" newspaper published on Wednesday.

"The political elite in Montenegro is, to be honest, under the influence of their Western patrons," Zakharova said commenting on Montenegro’s plans to join the North Atlantic Alliance. Answering a journalist’s question on whether Moscow may "help" Montenegro to make a decision on this matter, the diplomat noted that Russia will not exert pressure on the country’s domestic policy. "We cannot and will not "help" them in the sense that you were talking about," she noted.

"We can talk about our common views on several issues but we will not interfere into their internal affairs. As for Montenegro, its people should definitely be given the right to decide. We are raising this issue at international platforms, saying that we consider West’s pressure on the leadership of this country wrong. It is unacceptable to decide the future of the country on behalf of its citizens, it contradicts the basis of international relations that we support," Zakharova explained.

Montenegro and NATO launched technical talks at the level of ambassadors on the country’s possible entry into the North Atlantic Alliance. NATO's Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy said that "NATO membership will reinforce Montenegro’s security and sovereignty."

The Alliance issued a formal invitation for Montenegro to join in early December 2015. According to existing estimates, talks will continue for 1,5-2 years after which the decision to accept Montenegro as the 29th member of the North Atlantic Alliance should be approved by all NATO member countries.

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