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News 19 Jan 12

Podgorica Calms Row Over Advisor's Remarks

Montenegro's Foreign Ministry says disparaging remarks about Serbia made by the advisor to the parliament speaker "do not reflect Montenegro's official stance".

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In a statement for the media, Foreign Ministry official Ramiz Basic said that statements made by Andrej Nikolaidis in an online article did not reflect Podgorica's views in any way.

Podgorica's response came after Serbia on Wednesday sent a protest note to Montenegro over Nikolaidis' statements, published in an article on the Analitika Web site.

Nikolaidis is the advisor to the speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament, Ranko Krivokapic.

In the article, Nikolaidis addresses the discovery of arms and explosives at a venue in Banja Luka ahead of a gathering there to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Serb Republic on January 9.

The celebrations were attended by top Serbian officials, including President Boris Tadic. The suspect in the case, Bozidar Stanisljevic, is currently being held in Bosnia on suspicion of terrorism.

Nikolaidis wrote that he regretted that the explosives hidden at the venue were not put to use, but later claimed that "one paragraph was taken out of context to confuse the meaning".

In an explanation given on January 17, Nikolaidis said: "It would also have been a civilizational step forward had [Stanisljevic] used the dynamite and the guns he hid at the arena in which the heads, spiritual leaders and artists celebrated the 20th anniversary of the RS. Had [Stanisljevic] been, for example, a disaffected worker, who realized that national and religious antagonisms are only a mask used by the elite to hide essential antagonism of any society, the class one... Would that not have been a civilizational step forward?"

In the Ministry statement, Basic said that Nikolaidis' views "do not reflect in any way the official views of Montenegro or any of its institutions and officials".

The Montenegrin Foreign Ministry expressed regret over the "misunderstanding", and hope that it would be overcome.

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