00:38 GMT25 November 2020
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    The government of Montenegro have prevented the opposition Democratic Front (DF) coalition from gaining access to its own financial assets, ultimately roadblocking the referendum on the country's accession to NATO, Milan Knezevic, one of the coalition leaders, told Sputnik on Thursday.

    BELGRADE (Sputnik) — Knezevic noted the opposition would possibly organize a large-scale protest over issues "of great importance for the future of Montenegro and its citizens" on the day the government votes on joining NATO.

    "We planned to organize at least a public-consultative referendum in which Montenegro's citizens could vote on the country's accession to NATO or against it in free and democratic conditions. Unfortunately, the funds of the DF were blocked by the government soon after the parliamentary elections on October 16, and we simply had no financial or logistic opportunities to hold a popular referendum," Knezevic said.

    On April 6, President of the Parliament of Montenegro Ivan Brajovic said that he was considering to convene a parliamentary session during April, during which a vote on the country's membership in NATO will be held. The opposition lawmakers, represented by 39 out of 81 seats in the country's parliament, have been boycotting the parliament's meetings since autumn and urging for a referendum on the NATO's membership.

    Montenegro was invited to join NATO on December 2, 2015, in the alliance's first expansion into Eastern Europe in six years. Podgorica accepted the invitation the following day, an motion which triggered protests in the Balkan nation. In May 2016, the Alliance members signed a protocol on Podgorica's accession to be ratified by all NATO member states before becoming a full-fledged member.

    On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump signed the protocol on Montenegro’s accession to NATO, which was the final step in ratifying the document.

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    Tags:
    referendum, opposition, NATO, Montenegro
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