WASHINGTON - Montenegro's Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic on Monday said U.S.-led NATO allies have been supportive of an investigation into what Montenegrin prosecutors are calling a pro-Russian plot to overthrow the country's pro-Western government to prevent it from joining the European military alliance.
The “United States were among the most helpful in providing us with support and information," Darmanovic told VOA's Serbian Service. His comments came on the same day that U.S. legislators conducted a hearing on alleged Russian meddling in last year's U.S. presidential election.
Some Western officials have also said they suspect Russian involvement in October's attempted coup. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement in the alleged plot to oust the small Balkan nation's pro-NATO leadership, but it has openly supported and financed Montenegro's anti-NATO opposition.
Montenegro’s bid to join NATO is awaiting approval from the U.S. Senate.
Last week Senator Rand Paul blocked a floor vote, thwarting ratification of a treaty to advance the country’s NATO membership by unanimous consent without debate. More than 90 senators, according to advocates in the U.S. Senate, support Montenegro's ratification.
Paul’s opposition to the vote provoked a furious response from Republican Senator John McCain, who accused Paul of “working for Vladimir Putin.”
Darmanovic, a former envoy to the United States, said in an interview that he does not expect any further issues to hamper American ratification of Montenegro’s NATO membership.
“We understand that the Senate has a very busy agenda and that not all the matters can be considered immediately," he told VOA. "But we are convinced that, once majority leader [Senator Mitch McConnell] schedules the vote, the treaty will be ratified with an overwhelming majority.”
Montenegro’s bid requires ratification from all 28 NATO members. Darmanovic says that the U.S. administration is supporting its bid, and therefore expects Montenegro to participate as a full member at this May's NATO summit in Brussels.
Produced in collaboration with VOA's Serbian Service.