Montenegro’s former president, Milo Djukanovic, on Thursday criticized the government’s decision to support Saudi Arabia’s candidacy to host the World Expo 2030, saying it should favour neighbour and NATO member Italy.
On Wednesday, the government said it would back Saudi Arabia’s candidacy at the General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions, BIE, in November, when BIE member states will elect the host country for the World Expo 2030 via secret ballot on the principle of one country, one vote.
The Saudi capital, Riyadh, Rome, Italy and Busan, Korea, are the only candidates, after Russia and Ukraine withdrew their candidacies.
Djukanovic called on the government to support Rome’s candidacy, citing historical ties and the two countries’ alliance within NATO.
“EU states and NATO states have absolute priority in determining support for candidacies in international forums”, Djukanovic posted on Twitter.
The government said that both Saudi Arabia and Italy had lobbied for Montenegro’s support during their meetings with then President Djukanovic and former Foreign Minister Ranko Krivokapic.
But Montenegro’s outgoing Prime Minister, Dritan Abazovic, said on September 6 that Montenegro should follow its national interests, citing potential Saudi investment.
“Montenegro’s interest is that they [Saudi Arabia] participate in the construction of an educational facility, and it would be rational for us to take advantage of the opportunity. They will support the University of Montenegro with a sum of millions, and these are long-term projects,” Abazovic said. “I would like them [the Saudis] to be more represented here through their investments,” he added.
Saudi Arabia’s bid for a World Expo in Riyadh between 1 October 2030 and 31 March 2031 is marketed under the theme: “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow”. Italy’s bid for an Expo in Rome between 1 May and 31 October 2030 is under the theme: “People and Territories: Regeneration, Inclusion and Innovation”.
In June, France fired anger across Europe by backing Saudi Arabia rather than neighboring Italy to host the 2030 World Expo, according to Politico.
The French president’s support of a bid run by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) has irked Rome and raised concerns from NGOs campaigning against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, and in the wake of the brutal killing of a journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 — reportedly ordered by MBS himself. Macron’s move is now also raising concerns in other EU countries.
International Expos are held every five years and last a maximum of six months. They are considered one of the largest non-commercial global events in terms of economic and cultural impact, after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.
The first such international exhibition was held in London in 1851, under the title: “The Great Exhibition of Industrial Products from Countries of the World”.
Source : BalkanInsight