Since Montenegro became independent on June 3, 2006, a defense is under construction. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that MNE stands for Montenegro. It consists (2008) of 5,800 men, of which an army of 2,500 men will have about 60% of the strength of a comprehensive combat battalion group. The remaining 40% is intended to be included in peacekeeping tasks abroad. The Navy, 3,300 men, disposes of 6 submarines, 2 frigates, 6 patrol boats, 11 amphibious units and 1 naval infantry battalion. The Air Force, which is currently part of the army, disposes of about twenty older helicopters. Semi-military forces amount to 10,000 men. The defense equipment is older and will be reduced and modernized.
When the defense is operational, defense costs are estimated to amount to about 1.5% of GDP. Montenegro has some observers in the UN peacekeeping force in Liberia (UNMIL).
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Following the achievement of independence from the Union of Serbia and Montenegro, sanctioned by the referendum of May 2006 (55.5% of votes in favor) and proclaimed in the following June, the small Balkan Republic of Montenegro was facing the challenge of consolidating its new status of independent country. After almost immediate admission to the UN (June), legislative elections were held in September: the Coalition for a European Montenegro, formed by the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, won them, winning 41 seats out of 81 in the Parliament ( DPS) – hegemon since the days of the Union with Serbia – and the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro (SDP). Opposition forces denounced undue pressure on their candidates and voters; the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) instead – while highlighting some critical issues – judged the vote as a whole in line with the standards of democratic elections. The new government, chaired by Željko Šturanović, indicated integration into the EU as its main objective, to be pursued through specific reforms in the political and economic fields: in this context, an important step was represented by the signing – in October 2007 – of the Stabilization and association agreement with the European Union. In the same month, the country’s parliament adopted the new constitution.
In February 2008, due to health problems, Šturanović resigned as premier: Milo Đukanović, undisputed leader of the DPS and controversial protagonist of Montenegrin political life since the early nineties, took over. Already prime minister on four previous occasions, in March Đukanović was questioned by the Bari prosecutor for his alleged involvement in a smuggling case, but his position was later dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction.
In the following elections, the DPS and its allies were confirmed in power: in the presidential elections of April 2008, the outgoing head of state and exponent of the DPS Filip Vujanović won the victory with almost 53% of the votes, while in the early legislative elections in January 2009, the government coalition won 48 seats. Đukanovic, who for the sixth time had assumed the post of premier, however resigned in December 2010, after Montenegro had been officially recognized the status of candidate country for admission to the EU. The accession negotiations began in June 2012 and were followed in October by new early elections, motivated by the DPS with the need for a Parliament and an executive who enjoyed a full mandate to conduct negotiations with the Union. However, the Coalition for a European Montenegro, still victorious, failed to win an absolute majority of seats, stopping at 39, while the newly formed opposition force of the Democratic Front won 20 seats. For the formation of the new government, led for the seventh time by Đukanovic, the Coalition had to rely on the support of the representative parties of the Albanian, Croatian and Bosniak ethnic minorities.
In February 2013, the DPS was hit by a political scandal linked to the spread of some interceptions in which its important exponents discussed how to guarantee jobs for party supporters and the use of public resources to obtain electoral advantages: the contents of the conversations they highlighted problems traditionally associated with Montenegro such as endemic corruption and clientelism, against which the measures adopted – also in the perspective of European integration – had proved insufficient. In the subsequent presidential elections (April 2013), the results of which were contested by the opposition and by the candidate Miodrag Lekić who claimed the victory, Vujanović was confirmed as head of state with 51.2% of the votes.
In foreign policy, in addition to joining the EU, Montenegro also aimed at joining NATO, an objective on which, however, public opinion appeared more divided with respect to the issue of European integration. In 2008, however, tensions with Serbia were recorded, following the Montenegrin decision to recognize the state of Kosovo.