A referendum in Montenegro on the Balkan state’s NATO membership is not an invention of Russian propaganda but an important institute of direct democracy, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.


As the Russian diplomat said, it would be good to hold this referendum “to ask the people’s will and learn what people think about such developments.”


“Responding to our comments, we were told [by the Montenegrin authorities] that ‘we will ourselves take a decision on holding a referendum,’” the spokeswoman said.


“It would be important to understand who precisely is meant by the word ‘we.’ If the talk is about the people, let them express their opinion,” the Russian diplomat said.


“A referendum in Montenegro is not an invention of Russian propaganda but the most important institute of direct democracy,” the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.


“Precisely this institute gives people the possibility to express their opinion on the issues most essential for their country. In this case, the importance and the topicality of such a referendum are indisputable,” the Russian diplomat said.


As Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic said earlier, the Constitution of Montenegro does not stipulate that a referendum is required for the country to join NATO.


“However, the country’s parliament may take a decision on holding a plebiscite,” the premier said.


“In any case, it is early to talk about this today – a decision should be taken after the parliamentary elections in October,” he said.


“As a representative of the executive authority, I do not want to organize a referendum, if there is no need for it,” Dukanovic said.


In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said earlier the refusal by the Montenegrin authorities to hold a referendum on the country’s NATO membership causes regret.


“The admission of Montenegro to NATO is in full swing while the authorities are not asking the opinion of Montenegro citizens,” Zakharova said.