Serbia bans Montenegrin flag carrier from landing at Belgrade airport as row escalates

By bne IntelliNews May 27, 2020

Serbian air traffic control (SMATSA) has decided to ban Montenegro’s flag carrier Montenegro Airlines from landing at the Belgrade airport, N1 reported.

The decision adds to rising tensions between the two countries in the past months and came in response to Podgorica’s decision not to open its borders for Serbia.

It contradicts the claim of Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic that her country will not respond to Podgorica with reciprocal measures.

On May 27, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said the ban was logical and expressed his expectation that the government of Montenegro will change its decision as it would be in its own interest. He also said he was certain the decision was political.

The latest round of the conflict erupted after on May 25 Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic declared the country coronavirus-free and said the government is considering opening its borders for several countries. Neither Serbia nor Bosnia & Herzegovina were on the list.

Podgorica said it would open the borders only for countries where the spread of coronavirus seems to be contained, including Albania, Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. Markovic has indicated that the country might open its borders for other countries in the region too. The government decided that borders will be opened for countries where there are no more than 25 infections per 100,000 people, which is not the case in Bosnia and Serbia for the moment.

On May 27, Markovic also reacted to Belgrade’s move and said that all attempts to threaten the peace, stability and independence of Montenegro are futile and that each such attempt would be sanctioned according to the country’s laws.

“Each attempt for destruction and destabilisation will be sanctioned in accordance with the constitution and the law, decisively and efficiently. Because Montenegro is not what it was ten or twenty years ago. Because Montenegro is no longer alone on the global stage,” Markovic told MPs during the premier’s hour.

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