Serbia has banned flights operated by Montenegro Airlines from flying into the country following a diplomatic spat over COVID-19 restrictions.
Earlier this week, Montenegro declared itself as the first country in Europe to be free of COVID-19 after the last remaining patient was cured. The Western Balkan country was also one of the last to declare any cases of the virus but it was also one of the first to impose heavy travel restriction.w
Montenegro then announced that restrictions would be relaxed, but not for passengers coming from Serbia. It said it would allow the entry of foreign nationals as long as their country of origin has less than 25 active cases per 100,000 people. Serbia doesn’t meet this criterion and will not be one of the first countries, which includes Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Germany, Czechia, Hungary, Greece, and Albania, that will be allowed to travel there.
Serbian newspaper Blic then reported that the country Civil Aviation Directorate has adopted a measure that it says is “reciprocal” to Montenegro’s decision. This will effectively ban any Montenegro Airlines flights from arriving at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport.
Serbia justified the decision by saying that Montenegro’s travel restrictions are causing “serious damage” to Air Serbia and is violating the “principle of reciprocity of the movement of people”.
“It has nothing to do with a political decision. If our airline can’t fly there, of course reciprocal measures are implemented,” Dacic said.
Pro-government Serbian media has linked the decision to ongoing protests by Serbs in Montenegro regarding a law to regulate religion which they see as a direct attack on the Serbian Orthodox church.
Meanwhile, Belgrade refuses to seat in negotiations with Kosovo unless the latter removes reciprocity measures with Serbia.