The Montenegrin parliament must pass a new election law in order to continue on the path towards EU membership. The EU has been very clear in it’s message — without a revised election law there will be no EU membership.
Nonetheless, the Montenegrin parliament has failed to pass the needed law — after seven attempts. Unfortunately, there is little reason to hope that this attempt will fare better.
Serbian nationalist parties within the Montenegrin parliament are refusing to allow the EU membership to move forward unless Montenegro agrees to change it’s national language to Serbian and returns to teaching Serbian in Montenegrin schools.
Montenegrin and Serbian are extremely similar languages, and not all Montenegrin’s speak the same Montenegrin language. Montenegrin speakers in Podgorica and Cetinje tend to use the Zeta-South Sandžak dialect, while Montenegrin speakers in Herceg Novi, Kotor, and Budva tend towards the Eastern Herzegovinian dialect.
The Montenegrin Latin alphabet is very similar to the Latin version of the Serbian alphabet, although it contains the letters ś and ź which are not found in the Serbian Latin alphabet. Montenegrin also has a distinct Cyrillic alphabet which was standardized by Vojislav P. Nikčević in the 1970s.
Ranko Krivokapic, the parliamentary speaker, is attempting to create some discipline around the discussions, stating “Apart from the election law, the agenda could include an agreement about nationality and nothing more than that. Everything else cannot be part of what is the election law and has nothing to do with electoral legislation.”
Unfortunately, it is doubtful that Mr. Krivokapic has the political influence to enforce this discipline and complete the push towards EU integration. It is more likely that some compromise will need to be reached regarding Montenegrin sovereignty.
EU membership will have a significant positive impact on the Montenegrin economy. Whatever compromise needs to be made with the Serbians to allow EU negotiations to move forward will be justifiable on economic grounds as a necessary step to improve the quality of life for all Montenegrins.