September 15, 2020 - The fact that Montenegro is one of the centers of plant diversity in Europe is a known fact, due to the last relict jungle in Europe and its many endemic plants. But it was not widely known that Montenegrin vineyards have genetic characteristics similar to traditional wine regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy in France or La Rioja in Spain.
So far, the most extensive genomic study in Montenegro focused on the genetic diversity of vines has shown that the Montenegrin vineyards stand side by side with these world-famous wine regions.
A study published in the prestigious journal Nature Scientific Reports by a Montenegrin, Canadian and Spanish multidisciplinary team sampled and genotyped more than 500 vines over 100 years old across Montenegro, determining their genotype and mutual genetic connection.
This study revealed an unexpected diversity of grape genotypes with 51 unknown genotypes discovered for science, presenting new grape varieties. However, the most significant discovery is finding their genetic connection and discovering the Montenegrin vine's pedigree. This study shows that vines have been grown here for centuries and with a specific genetic structure for this vineyard.
Specifically, the Kratošija variety is the central variety that has produced the Montenegrin grape assortment in its crossbreeding with other types. Kratošija represents mother or father for 12 grape varieties, and was the most common combination sampled in old vineyards.
With its diversity, biotypes and historical data from the Budva Constitution from 1427, which describe the cultivation of Kratošija in the Middle Ages, this research shows that Kratošija has been the main variety grown in Montenegro for centuries.
Among the many descendants of this variety is the crown of Montenegrin wine production, Vranac, where Kratošija is the father of this variety and the mother is a disappearing variety, called Duljenga, found at one site only in Crmnica. Also, the basis of table grape varieties is Rozaklija, which gave 14 different types, the vine being from the monastery of St. Vasilije Ostroški, and according to written data, originates from 1672. According to tradition, this lineage was sprouted from seeds, and has been scientifically confirmed on the basis of this story. The "father" of this variety is Velja Pergola, which was found just below the monastery, suggesting the origin from the seeds due to crossing.
This research has vast international significance where Montenegro is placed in the center of diversity and the origin of Kratošija. The famous American Zinfandel and the Italian Primitivo were therefore transferrals from these areas. It is precisely the task of this scientific consortium to show the true origin of Zinfandel by sequencing the entire genome.
This study also reveals Montenegrin winegrowers' work through the centuries and the steps of secondary "domestication" of the vine by crossing it with wild vines. This practice has long since disappeared from Europe, and in this way, many famous grape varieties were created in antiquity, including Cabernet Franc.
This comprehensive study based on genomic technologies creates the potential for the development of indigenous winemaking in Montenegro. It lays the foundations for the development of this branch for the next centuries. A lot of work remains, however. All these varieties were first saved from extinction and are now propagated in the Plantaža nursery.
The next step is their examination and micro vinification to determine which varieties can make top quality wines. Also, this is only the first step in winemaking studies in this area. Work is ongoing on testing local yeasts important for wine fermentation, gastronomy development, steaming of wine, and food that will place wines at a higher level, expand this area of the tourism sector, and serve as a basis for vine tourism that has runs all year round.
September 14, 2020 - The laboratories of the Institute of Public Health have completed PCR analysis of 618 samples for the new coronavirus since the last section. Among these, 188 new cases of COVID-19 infection were registered. The total number of active COVID-19 cases in Montenegro is currently 2190.
Number of new COVID-19 patients by municipality: Nikšić 87, Berane 32, Podgorica 29, Rožaje 12, Bar 8, Budva 4, Kotor 4, Andrijevica 4, Tivat 3, Bijelo Polje 2, Pljevlja 2, Plav 1.
Since the last section, one death has been reported in a COVID-19 positive patient from Podgorica born in 1950 who was treated at the Clinical Center of Montenegro. Since the beginning of June, the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 infection is 112. Since the beginning of the year 121.
Recovery has been reported in 82 patients. The total number of active COVID-19 cases in Montenegro is currently 2190.
Since the beginning of the year, the total number of registered coronavirus infections is 6900.
The Director of the Clinical Center of Montenegro, Jevto Eraković, said that 171 patients were currently hospitalized in Montenegro.
"Thirty-two patients are in the KCCG, 16 patients in the Clinic for Infectious Diseases, and in a stable condition. In the Internal Clinic, there are 15 patients, four of whom are in a life-threatening condition, and in the Institute for Children's Diseases, we have one child inpatient.
There are 18 patients in the General Hospital of Bar, four of whom are in intensive care. In Berane - 35 patients, three of whom have a severe clinical picture. In the Nikšić hospital, 46 patients, four with a severe clinical picture. In the Brezovik hospital, 11 patients; in Kodra, three patients, in the Pljevlja hospital 16 patients, in Bijelo Polje 10 patients ", said Eraković at the press conference of the NKT.
There is no fear for the health system's efficiency, which is being proven day by day, said Director Eraković at the press conference. He announced that Berane and Niksic are currently the two most endangered municipalities and that the system will be organized so that the hospitals in those cities will be relieved as much as possible.
The capacities in Montenegrin hospitals are currently 540 COVID beds, but that number, as Eraković said, can be doubled or tripled.
"Montenegro has more than 300 respirators, which is immeasurable compared to any other health care system," Erakovic pointed out.
Dr. Zoran Vratnica, one of the three doctors / molecular biologists employed at PCR diagnostics at the Institute of Public Health, resigned today, the Union of Medical Doctors of Montenegro announced on Facebook. Dr. Vratnica will take up new employment in a private diagnostic institution, "Diagnostica," where he is a co-owner.
"On several occasions since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Union of Doctors of Medicine has pointed out deficiencies in HR policy at the Department of Virology of the IPH. We note that the IPH employs eight microbiologists and several biochemistry engineers who were able to help exhausted colleagues on PCR diagnostics and keep up with the needs of testing," said doctors gathered in the Medical Doctors' Union.
According to unofficial information from the trade union, there are already about 1000 untreated coronavirus swabs.
The Assistant Director of the Institute of Public Health, Senad Begic, said at today's press conference of the NKT that about 1,300 samples are awaiting PCR analysis.
All persons waiting for a test result should stay in their homes until they know whether they are infected or not, said Begić. He added that at the moment, it takes up to three days to get results.
When asked by journalists about the microbiologist's resignation from the Institute of Public Health, Begic said that negotiations with him have been ongoing since January, when he expressed his desire to leave the IPH. Begic added that due to the epidemic, that decision was delayed, and he thanked his colleague for 30 years of work at the institution.
The Assistant Director of the IPH stated that three molecular biologists work in that institution and that the work continues in two shifts. A third molecular biologist is in training.
All Serbian citizens who are staying in Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, should return to their country by Friday at 6 pm, the coronavirus Crisis Staff of Serbia appealed.
They announced that after that, a different regime would apply - 10-day surveillance for all passengers entering Serbia from Montenegro, BiH, Croatia, and other countries with a high incidence of COVID-19.
The Serbian Crisis Staff stated that it would not be about quarantine and self-isolation, but about surveillance, including specific measures and activities to reduce the transmission of the virus and importation of cases from abroad.
The Crisis Staff decided to consider such a step when the number of new coronavirus infections in Serbia began to grow.
September 13, 2020 - The laboratories of the Institute of Public Health have completed PCR analysis of 487 samples for the new coronavirus and registered 182 new cases of COVID-19 infection from the following municipalities: Podgorica 54, Berane 47, Nikšić 35, Plav 15, Andrijevica 14, Rozaje 10, Bar 5, Ulcinj 1, Tuzi 1.
Since the last section, two deaths have been reported in COVID-19 positive patients from Gusinje and Nikšić born in 1957 and 1955. Since the beginning of June, the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 infection is 111. Since mid-March,120.
Recovery was reported in 16 patients.
The total number of active COVID-19 cases in Montenegro is currently 2085.
Since the beginning of the year, the total number of registered coronavirus infections is 6712.
Montenegro's epidemiological situation is severe, said the Institute of Public Health Director, Boban Moguša, stating that "locking down" the population is the final scenario, but that it will be inevitable if the increase in COVID-19 patients continues.
"Our behavior did not follow the recommendations, and we have to deal with the consequences," Mugoša said as a guest on Dnevnik for RTCG.
He said that the situation is sensitive due to the large internal transmission, but it is positive that the health system is not overloaded yet; it is at one-fifth of full capacity.
According to the RTCG portal, Mugoša warned that all that could change very quickly and that the situation could get worse.
"We are currently protected by the fact that the majority of patients are young, 65 percent under the age of 50, and 85 percent under the age of 60, which means that if we have an increase in elderly patients, we will get more serious cases and more deaths," he said.
As he stated, the north is currently seeing the highest numbers, but the south of the country may soon be in a dangerous position
Mugoša said that "locking down" the population, as happened in spring, is the final scenario, but it will be inevitable if the number of cases continues to grow
"I ask everyone to wear masks outside and inside, that we keep our distance, that we don't gather together too much and that we keep maintaining physical distance from one another," Mugoša said.
He added that he is convinced that the school year will begin, as announced, on October 1.
September 13, 2020 - The parliament to be constituted after the elections on August 30 will be dynamic with a strong influence on the decision-making and the work of the executive power, believes the Director of the Center for Civil Liberties, Boris Marić.
He told MINA agency that the agreement, signed by the leaders of the three coalitions that won the majority of votes in the recent parliamentary elections, is a sign that Montenegro is maturing politically.
"The agreement is the result of a political compromise, which, on the one hand, tells us that Montenegrin society could be moving towards a greater degree of political rigour. On the other, we should be careful in concluding that every political compromise usually encounters various levels of resistance," Maric said.
According to him, it is necessary to wait to implement the agreement to see how the Montenegrin political system and institutions will function.
"In any case, we can expect a very dynamic parliament with a strong influence on decision-making and the character of decisions and work of the executive branch," Maric said.
He said that the new government could be expected to be formed relatively soon.
Of course, as he stated, it is not a simple process, and it will not be a surprise that the list holders encounter problems.
"But the public's expectation that a new government will be formed is dominant, and I believe that any attempt to interfere, with specific interests or obstruction, will be overcome," Maric said.
He pointed out that the new government's expectations are the strengthening of institutions, especially those involved in fighting corruption, a package of economic and social measures, full transparency of work and public finances, and a focus on inclusion in Montenegrin society.
Speaking about the relations between Serbia and Montenegro, Maric said that the relations between the authorities of those two countries followed the "warm-cold system."
"These move from the very best, as they defined them at one point, to a covert or even open conflict, primarily over the Law on Freedom of Religion and the identity policy derived from it," said Maric.
He believes that the aggravation of relations between Serbia and Montenegro has consequently spilled over into Montenegro's electoral process.
"We have indeed seen the influence of either the official Serbian position or the media from Serbia on the election result in Montenegro. It resulted in the homogenization of the pro-Serbian electorate, "Maric said.
He added that it remains to be seen whether this was a temporary strategy for the protection of Serbian interests in Montenegro or a long-term strategy based on identity policies for future processes.
Maric said that what lies ahead is a critical period for Montenegro. And that relations in the region must be built with full respect for sovereignty and building good neighborly relations.
"With the first announcements, the winners of the elections affirm democratic principles and guarantee full state sovereignty, which they will have to prove to part of the Montenegrin public," Maric believes.
Speaking about the possible participation of minority parties in the new government, Maric said that these parties have a place in the government because there they will be able to articulate their needs to the extent necessary.
He believes that no matter how the minority parties' representatives decide, that should be respected, and the door of the executive power should be left open.
Maric stated that the issue of regional relations has a special significance, and it will take a period of time for the new Montenegrin government to prove its commitment to good neighborly relations.
"Concerning the guidelines expressed by the signed platform and, of course, with their implementation, we can hope for good development of relations with neighbors," concluded Marić.
September 12, 2020 - "Corruption and the perception of corruption are significant problems in the Montenegrin public and private sector. Citizens' concerns about corruption are usually significant in opinion polls, and corruption is also cited as a risk by foreign investors. Despite legal improvements, corruption remains a major problem in the Montenegrin economy, according to the annual State Department reports designed to help US companies make business decisions.
"Corruption and the perception of corruption are significant problems in the Montenegrin public and private sector. The level of citizens' concern about corruption is usually high in public opinion polls, and foreign investors also cite corruption as a risk, "the part of the report dedicated to the prevention of corruption points out, RFE reports.
It is highlighted that since gaining independence in 2006, Montenegro has adopted a legal framework that encourages privatization, employment, and exports.
"The implementation of the framework, however, lags far behind the legislation," the report says, noting that Montenegro is still in the process of establishing a liberal business climate that encourages foreign investment and local production.
"The country remains dependent on imports from neighboring countries, despite significant potential in some areas of agriculture and food production," the report states.
It adds that, although the political transition has not yet eliminated all structural barriers, the government generally recognizes the need to remove obstacles in order to reform the business environment and attract foreign investment.
The ratio of public debt and gross domestic product in Montenegro is one of the largest in the region - notes the State Department.
"Public debt is currently at 76.9 percent of GDP, with the forecast that it will increase to over 80 percent after the repayment of the loan to the Chinese Exim Bank, for the construction of a billion-dollar highway," it is noted.
As government priorities, the State Department singles out infrastructure development, "including another highway section that will better connect the developed southern part of the country with the underdeveloped north."
It is noted that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are assisting the government in implementing debt control measures.
"The economic growth rate in 2019 was one of the highest in Europe at 3.5 percent, while the unemployment rate rose slightly from 15.2 to 15.3 percent. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a significant economic impact on the Montenegrin economy in 2020," the report highlights.
There is a reminder of the IMF forecast from April this year, according to which Montenegro will face a nine percent decline in the economy.
The economic downturn is said to stem from the Montenegrin economy's heavy dependence on tourism.
The tourism sector accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product (GDP).
As a candidate country on its path to joining the European Union (EU), Montenegro has opened 32 of 33 negotiation chapters. Three have been temporarily closed, the State Department says, noting that the Montenegrin government hopes to open the last chapter on competition in 2020.
It is added that Montenegro has been a member of NATO since 2017.
"On January 1, 2019, Montenegro began implementing its economic citizenship program. The program will last for three years and will be available for up to 2,000 applicants," the State Department's report highlights.
The Montenegrin economy is focused on three sectors, with the government mainly focusing its efforts on developing tourism, energy, and agriculture.
"Due to its 300-kilometer-long coastline and spectacular mountain region in the north of the country, a successful tourism sector accounts for almost 25 percent of GDP."
No country dominates foreign direct investment, the most significant being investments from Italy, Hungary, Russia, and Serbia. At the same time, the State Department notes that new interest in investing comes from the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, China, Turkey, and the United States.
Projects in the energy sector include a submarine cable to Italy for electricity transmission and the Montenegrin government's intention to consider importing US liquefied natural gas through the port at Bar.
"Also, there are several ongoing conventional energy projects across the country, including the controversial environmental reconstruction of the existing block of coal-fired thermal power plants in Pljevlja and a series of projects to build small hydropower plants," the report said.
Mention is also made of the concession agreements for offshore oil and gas exploration, which the Government of Montenegro signed with two consortia - the Italian-Russian consortium Eni / Novatek and the Greek-British consortium Energean Oil / Mediterranean Oil and Gas.
September 12, 2020 - The Center for Civic Education (CCE) is paying tribute to all the victims and detainees in the Mamula camp during World War II, among whom the majority was from the Bay of Kotor.
"At the same time, we use the opportunity to invite the future authorities to revise the contract with the investor who is currently building a hotel and tourist facility on Mamula. We call on them to establish the Mamula Memorial Center as a sign and permanent commemoration to the victims, and a reminder to all future generations of the crimes committed here," the CCE states.
The camp on the island of Lastavica, better known as Mamula, was disbanded after Italy's capitulation on September 14, 1943, 77 years ago, and commemoration is held every September in memory of the crimes that took place on Mamula, recall the CCE.
Mamula, Arhive Photo, Source: CCE
"However, due to the country's epidemiological situation, the CCE delegation will not visit the island this year and lay flowers to pay tribute to the victims. Therefore, we are addressing society this way to remind them of the crime, and call on the state of Montenegro to take on the obligation towards the victims, and the achievements of the anti-fascist struggle. In addition, they should adequately protect this locality, marking a place of suffering."
"There are numerous places of suffering on the territory of Montenegro, where crimes were committed during World War II, and today's younger generation knows almost nothing about them. It is terrible not to know that over a hundred people were killed or starved to death here. Over 2,000 were captured in Campo Mamula, as estimated based on data from Italian military documents. Therefore, to remember such facts and to encourage the development of a culture of human rights in Montenegro, one of the main pillars and cultures of memory, Mamula, but all other places of suffering in Montenegro, should be part of the education system and of a special segment of educational tourism."
"The entire Montenegrin society, and especially the institutions of the system, must remember all crimes against innocent civilians during the wars in Montenegro. They must also work tirelessly to develop a culture of remembrance and respect, recognition, and compassion for all victims, to make sure these crimes never happen again," the CCE states.
"We appeal to the new ruling majority to advocate actively in its future mandate to establish a culture of remembrance, which the previous government only declaratively supported. The highest representatives of the previous government have never gone to the commemoration on Mamula island. They treated this anti-fascist execution site like any piece of land. They leased it to an investor who, according to their public plan, cannot adequately protect the victims' memory. Everyone in Montenegro should work tirelessly on shaping a society based on respect for victims, reconciliation, the right to truth, peace, coexistence, and tolerance," the CCE said in a statement.
September 12, 2020 - In the coming days, from September 13 to September 17, 2020, the area of Montenegro will be affected by warm tropical air mass. This will cause high air temperatures, especially in the broader region of Podgorica and Danilovgrad (Zeta-Bjeloplavici region) and the coast with its low -surface vegetation. Tropical climates are expected, followed by increased to strong north-northeast winds. Significant fire warnings will be expected - the Directorate for Emergency Situations of the Ministry of the Interior announced.
The situation will be aggravated by the intensified to a strong north wind expected during Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, especially at night.
According to the current predictions by the European weather center, no rain is expected in the central and southern parts of the continent until September 17.
Due to the above factors, the Directorate for Emergency Situations of Montenegro called on all competent public services to raise operational readiness to a higher level to be ready to respond to potential dangers to nature and human health. They have also called on the public to stay aware of the danger of fire in such conditions.
Podgorica: Mostly sunny and hot. The wind occasionally moderate, north and northeast. Morning air temperature around 23, highest daily up to 35 degrees.
Mostly sunny and warm. In the morning, in the north, fog in the valleys, and the afternoon, weak to moderate cloud development in the continental regions. Wind occasionally and in places moderate to strong, northerly. Morning air temperature 7 to 24, highest daily 21 to 35 degrees.
Podgorica: Mostly sunny and hot with weak to moderate cloud development. Wind occasionally moderate, north and northeast. Morning air temperature 23, highest daily around 34 degrees.
September 11, 2020 - This year's Herceg Novi Comic Festival- HSF, in its 14th iteration, ended successfully on Wednesday after a six-day program. What the organizers planned and promised for this year, they fulfilled - that the festival, regardless of all the problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic, would take place.
And it was held without any significant issues or reorganization, and the world's comic stars were brought to the Montenegrin coast again. Three artists from Britain, five from Croatia, three from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and six artists from the Montenegrin comics scene introduced themselves to the audience and spent time with them.
"First of all, I am delighted that we have managed to hold the festival in these conditions. We never doubted that. All the artists were eager to come, and at the cost of being quarantined for 14 days when they return home, this is what will happen to William Simpson, Glenn Fabry, and Karen Holloway. All five Italians guests announced said they would do take part, but they received an official letter from the Italian embassy with a strong recommendation to them not to come. This in practice prohibited them from attending, so they had to concede defeat. Yet that is the only thing that changed in our plan. Also, the guests and ourselves are delighted because HSF is the only event dedicated to comics held in Europe this year, and probably beyond, since the New York Comic-Con was also supposed to take place. And yet, it will not, " Nebojsa Mandic, one of the HSF organizers said to Vijesti, sharing his first impressions at the beginning of the festival.
Nebojša expressed great pride that his team had staged the festival at an extremely high level, hosting stars such as the winner of two Emmys who also worked on the series "Game of Thrones", William Simpson. Glen Fabry, who is among the 20 most important cartoonists globally and whose drawings are worth three thousand euros each, also attended. The winner of the Eisner Award, Esad Ribić, who has been working exclusively on Marvel covers for the last five years, was in attendance as was one other important person in Marvel and DC, Mirko Čolak. According to Mandic, this year, the traditional comics school, which was the best so far, stood out with over twenty children participating.
"I am very proud and happy that we received the support of all our traditional sponsors, who did not withdraw despite the financial uncertainty due to coronavirus. We owe a great deal of gratitude to them, to the whole city that stood behind us, and to the whole country that recognized that our festival is the best ambassador of Montenegrin culture in the world. We got the most out of abnormal conditions. HSF also boasts traditionally positive coverage when it comes to the media in the region and beyond. RTS has put us on its cultural program twice, and they are preparing a special show; HRT also reported on the festival. Otherwise, we have been extremely well-represented in the Italian media before. One specialized magazine even published a dozen pages about Herceg Novi and what we do. "Everyone is following us because we are the only festival that took place in Europe this year, so everyone who deals with comics wrote a little more about it," said Mandic.
In addition to the problems before the festival, he says that it was challenging during the festival. But now that he sees the results, it all looks like "sweet torment".
"It was challenging because we had to calculate what to do and how to work, which guests we would have; we just had to have not a B plan, but a Z plan. From A to Z, we had plans for every situation so that the festival would be staged no matter what. The big obstacle was that the crisis is everywhere. Everyone is financially unstable; that is why I pointed out that one of our most significant victories is that we got the support of all those who have supported us before. Of course, the huge thing was how to explain to the artists that they are not allowed to group, that they have to wear masks in certain places, they are not allowed to dance to the music ... ", he explains.
Due to the pandemic restrictions, the number of visitors from Croatia, BiH and Serbia was lower. Still, it was compensated by visitors from other cities in Montenegro and was generally very good, claims Mandic.
"It seems to me that the city was the busiest this weekend. I don't know the exact numbers, but it appeared that it was the fullest during our summer season during our entire summer season," he said with pride.
Visiting artists are always delighted with the homely atmosphere in Herceg Novi, as was the case this year as well.
"I will best describe their reactions in one sentence that Karen Holloway repeated for days: 'What did I do to deserve to be here, to deserve this part of heaven that you have afforded me these six days?!' All artists love our festival because it is entirely different from the other conventions and the Comic Zone. When drawn, they can draw, have direct interaction with the audience, and do not have strictly defined dates. Also, during all six days, we organized the festival at different locations to get to know the city well, and we can even take them to Topla and Luštica ", Mandić points out.
"The Association of Montenegrin Comic Authors, headed by Simon Vukčević, also presented itself at our festival, and he also published the magazine 'Comics', which deserves attention. These are all familiar names, but we also had the opportunity to see extremely talented young artists, primarily from Kotor, who came to the Association's presentation. The most eminent comic book experts like Ribić and Simpson praised their work, shared a few tricks, and encouraged them to continue working as Luka Cakic, who learned a lot at our festivals and is now one of the most sought-after illustrators, "said Mandic.
Speaking about the atmosphere at this year's HSF, Mandic recalled a few especially interesting moments.
"Every night, we had parties, regardless of the restrictions, following NKT measures. It was a bit of a weird scene when the hard rock band Mustang was playing. You see, the audience is struggling with the urge to dance and jump, but everyone is sitting at tables, and no one is moving. The measures are being followed. Everything looked like from the time of that hard communism when there were dancers and when no one was allowed to be the first to start playing. When it comes to this segment, one of the most beautiful moments was when Esad Ribić sat down at the drums and started playing with the teenagers from the Herceg Novi group Kupplung. It was spectacular. There was a real feeling that the guests missed such events this year, and there was a perfect vibe during the entire festival ", he said.
Text by Stefan Strugar