Serbia reversed its decision to expel Montenegro’s ambassador on Sunday, one day after both countries declared each other’s envoys persona non grata over a diplomatic spat.
“We decided that Serbia already tonight unilaterally revokes the decision on expelling Montenegro’s ambassador,” Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said, DW reports.
“We decided to do that because we don’t want to carry out any hostile act against Montenegro,” she added.
Brnabic stated that her country wants to extend “the hand of cooperation and friendship” to Montenegro and hoped the decision was made to ease tensions between the two neighbors.
The prime minister’s announcement came after she spoke with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and consulted Montenegrin Serbs.
Montenegro on Saturday ordered the Serbian envoy Vladimir Bozovic to leave the country over “long and continuous meddling in the internal affairs of Montenegro,” its foreign ministry said.
Bozovic recently praised a 1918 assembly which decided that Montenegro should lose independence and join a Serbia-dominated kingdom.
Hours later, Serbia retaliated by expelling the Montenegrin ambassador in Belgrade.
Montenegro regained full independence after a 2006 referendum, while nearly 30% of Montenegrin citizens consider themselves ethnic Serbs.
However, the dispute is expected to be resolved soon as a new pro-Serb government in Montenegro is due to be sworn in on Wednesday.
Montenegro’s Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic slammed the outgoing government’s decision to expel the Serbian ambassador and has vowed to work on “healing Montenegro’s relations with Serbia.”
“The outgoing regime, even in its last days, is not refraining from the polarization of society and the deepening of divisions,” Krivokapic tweeted. “Such acts are not in the spirit of the European path and good regional cooperation of friendly countries,” he wrote.
Montenegro’s opposition coalitions won in August elections against the long- ruling Democratic Party of Socialists led by Milo Djukanovic.
Under Djukanovic, who is now the president, Montenegro joined NATO in 2017 defying its traditional Slavic allies Serbia and Russia, and has taken steps to join the EU. His opponents accuse the veteran leader of corruption, nepotism, media censorship and ties to organized crime.