Balkans row over Labour leader's comments reignited

A DIPLOMATIC row over Montenegro's path to independence has resurfaced with Iain Gray criticised in the country's biggest-selling newspaper.

The Scottish Labour leader attempted to capitalise on SNP suggestions that Scotland follow the same route by claiming it took the Balkan country "40 days, two world wars, the Balkan conflict, ethnic cleansing, a war crimes tribunal and a UN peacekeeping mission" to achieve it.

Montenegro's top UK diplomat has hit back, expressing "deep regret" over Mr Gray's "incorrect" comments.

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On a visit to Montenegro, SNP MP Peter Wishart has told the Vijesti newspaper he wanted to show that Scotland did not stand behind Mr Gray's comments.

Mr Wishart said last night: "Everywhere I have gone in this country people are raising the comments made by Iain Gray. They still rankle with them and they don't know why he has not apologised yet.

"I have to tell them that Mr Gray's comments do not reflect Scotland as a whole. Scotland has very good links with Montenegro and it has looked to Scotland to see how it has developed its own parliament.

"Mr Gray should realise that his comments can have repercussions internationally and he really should apologise."