The Impact of European Integration on Montenegrin Politics and Society

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
Montenegro is the smallest of all former Yugoslav republics, and the last to become independent, in 2006 (except for Kosovo, whose status is still a matter of dispute). The European integration is an important topic on Montenegrin political scene, and, actually, it was an important topic in the discussions surrounding the referendum on independence in 2006. Ever since then, Montenegro is in the process of joining EU which is the most important goal of the country’s foreign policy and probably the only one which is, at least nominally, adopted by all political parties. Since Montenegro passed through tumultuous 1990s as a part of the internationally-isolated union with Serbia (led by Slobodan Milosevic at the time), while it was kept out of outright war, it still entered the new millennium economically, politically and culturally underdeveloped and far, not only from the EU-standards, but also from its own standings back in 1989. European integration gave impetus to various reforms Montenegro has been passing through since (re)gaining independence. It can be regarded on different levels – as mentioned before, it marks a unifying goal in the still highly divided nation. It also helped many reforms in legislation in order to harmonize a mostly communist-era legal system with the EU legislation. It also helped political changes in a country that still has to oversee the democratic transfer of power (the ruling party, DPS, originates from the League of Communists). On that very field the impact of European integration is huge, but it remains also the most vulnerable point for Montenegro. The EU integration (as well as NATO accession) also aided in setting up stronger economic ties with the Western countries, and the rise of Western investments and number of tourists from the EU visiting Montenegro (where tourism remains a very important source of income). This is contrary to the previous decade when Russian and Serbian tourists, as well as Russian, Turkish, Arab and Azerbaijani investments dominated. The foreign policy of Montenegro also saw a shift, which led it away from its historic alley, Russia, and firmly into the Western orbit to an extent, that it is being labelled by detractors of its foreign policy as a satellite without a will of its own). Overall, the impact of the European integration process on Montenegrin society and politics remains strong and is mostly beneficial for the country’s interests and its future development. The goal of this paper is to evaluate the role of European integration in Montenegrin politics and Montenegrin society as a whole, by analyzing available data and relevant papers on this matter.
Montenegro, Western Balkans, European integration, Post- communism, Divided societies, მონტენეგრო, დასავლეთ ბალკანეთი, ევროინტეგრაცია, პოსტ-კომუნიზმი, გაყოფილი საზოგადოება