TALLINN, Estonia (AP)--Montenegro's foreign minister Wednesday said the small Balkan republic is strong enough to deal with possible financial sanctions from Serbia if it chooses to become independent in a referendum this weekend.
However, Miodrag Vlahovic said during a visit to Estonia he was confident Belgrade wouldn't resort to such measures should Montenegrins decide to break free from the union with Serbia in Sunday's vote.
"Our state is viable, and the country's economy itself is a prosperous one," Vlahovic said in response to a question about possible sanctions from Serbia. "Otherwise we would not opt for such a political project as to gain independence."
Days before the referendum, it was still unclear whether Montenegrins would vote to separate from their bigger neighbor.
Serbian officials have warned Montenegrins that if the republic becomes independent, strict borders would be established between the two former Balkan allies, and Serbia would introduce customs fees and a fivefold increase in tuition for Montenegrins studying in Belgrade, as well as for those needing medical help in the Serbian capital.
But Vlahovic said Serbia would gain little from taking such actions.
"My understanding of the possible reactions from Serbia is that it's virtually impossible to have any kind of policy...which would actually create any barriers on the free flow of capital, people and services between these two countries, Serbia and Montenegro," he said.
He urged Serbia and other Balkan nations "to behave in a European way" in response to the referendum.
Earlier Wednesday, Vlahovic held talks with his Estonian counterpart, Urmas Paet, on the situation in Montenegro and the Balkan region, including Kosovo.
Later Wednesday, Vlahovic was to visit the Baltic country's parliament, or Riigikogu, and meet with Enn Eesmaa, the chairman of its foreign affairs committee.