Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic will meet leaders of the pro-Serb opposition in Montenegro even though some of them have been accused of involvement in a coup attempt.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that he would meet leaders of the pro-Serbian opposition in Montenegro, even though some of them have been accused of being involved in a plot to overthrow his Montenegrin counterpart Milo Djukanovic.
The leaders of the pro-Serbian opposition and Serb organisations demanded an urgent meeting with Vucic in Belgrade two weeks ago about what they said was the “intolerable situation” facing the Serb community in Montenegro, but Vucic told journalists that he had not meet them yet because he was too busy.
“I could do that in the next 10 to 15 days,” he said after being asked if he had refused to meet them because of their alleged involvement in what the Montenegrin authorities have described as an attempted coup on election day on October 16.
The leader of pro-Serbian parties NOVA, Andrija Mandic, and the Democratic People's Party, Milan Knezevic, along with several representatives of Serb organisations and intellectuals, had asked to speak with Vucic about the pressure they said was being exerted on them in Montenegro.
Mandic's and Knezevic's parties are part of Montenegro’s main opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, which strongly favours close ties between all Serbs in the region, while advocating friendly relations with Russia and opposing membership of NATO.
They said they wanted to meet Vucic because a campaign was being conducted against them in the Belgrade-based media and by Montenegrin branches of the Informer tabloid and broadcaster TV Pink.
Vucic said on Monday that he was “always ready to talk to Andrija Mandic and anyone who comes from Montenegro to talk”.
Last week, Mandic met Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, and it was announced that the Republic Srpska leader will host a larger group of the Serb representatives from Montenegro in the entity’s main city Banja Luka this week.
It was not specified when the meeting will take place and who exactly will participate, however.
The meeting was announced after the arrests of 20 Serbian coup suspects ahead of Montenegro’s elections, and allegations that some nationalists from Russia participated in the plot.
The suspects were said to have been caught trying to enter Montenegro from Serbia with arms and ammunition and were arrested on charges of terrorism. Pro-government media outlets in Montenegro insist the men were involved in an attempted coup.
The prosecution claimed it has evidence that a politician from the Democratic Front collaborated with Russian nationalists in an alleged plot to overthrow veteran PM Djukanovic.
The Prosecutor's Office said there was “reasonable suspicion” that a criminal organisation had been formed in Serbia and Montenegro at the start of October with a plan to attack citizens and police in front of parliament once the results of the election were announced, before taking over the assembly and declaring that the party of its choice had won the polls.
It also said it suspected the criminal organisation planned to kill Djukanovic.
The Front however said the state prosecution fabricated the alleged coup plot because it needed an alibi “to arrest the leaders of the opposition”.