June 18, 2020 - Laboratories of the Institute of Public Health (IPH) have registered seven new cases of coronavirus. Thus, the current number of infected in Montenegro has risen to nine.
June 17, 2020 - The Union of Medical Doctors of Montenegro (SDMCG), Action for Human Rights (AHR) and the Center for Civic Education (CCE) are calling on the Minister of Health and the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases (NKT) to allow entry into Montenegro without institutional quarantine to all persons with a negative PCR test, not just those who enter the country on private planes and yachts. Tourists will be required to bring a negative PCR test result that is not older than 48 hours, and Montenegrin citizens and residents will be able to be tested directly at the border.
AHR and CCE have previously pointed to discrimination regarding the fact that people are allowed to come to Montenegro on private planes and yachts from all countries, regardless of the infection rates, if they have a negative test not older than 48 hours, while this is not possible for those who want to enter the country in usual ways, for example, by car.
It is known that citizens and residents, coming from Serbia, are entering Montenegro through Bosnia and Herzegovina, without any quarantine or testing. Rumours are circulating that in this way several people who have been infected with the Covid virus have already entered the country -19 who were infected at a recent football match in Belgrade. We call on the authorities to confirm or refute these rumours.
Also, many people are entering Montenegro unhindered from Albania, although the scope of testing there is worryingly low, meaning that the numbers of people infected and the risk of importing the virus cannot be realistically assessed.
Given this, we believe that it is far more rational that, instead of there being a “narrow gateway” into Montenegro through Bosnia and Herzegovina with no testing or monitoring, everyone should be allowed to enter via the "large gateway", but with a negative test, not older than 48 hours, or indeed they should be given the opportunity to undergo a test at the border crossing. In the latter case the person would be obliged by the decision of the sanitary inspector to wait for the test result in self-isolation. Symptoms can be monitored by the Institute for Public Health (IPH) via an application they have developed and is already in use.
If the NKT and the Minister of Health believe otherwise, we expect them to inform the public of all the reasons behind their position in an open and considered manner. We also expect the Ombudsman to give a reasoned opinion on whether the orders of the Minister of Health are discriminatory or not.
Decision of Strasbourg Court in Favour of Tivat Citizen Opens Pandora's Box
June 16, 2020 - The practice of the Montenegrin State and local courts of restricting property rights of private property owners on the coast without paying fair compensation for property formally confiscated from them is illegal and violates the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.
This is the epilogue of the final verdict of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of "Nešić v. Montenegro" from 2018. In the verdict passed on 9th June, the European Court of Human Rights fully accepted the allegations from the lawsuit brought by Ilija Nešić from Krašići near Tivat, and represented by Law Firm "Miljanić" from Tivat, that the state of Montenegro was illegally denied ownership of his two plots on the seashore in that part of the Bay. In 1980, Nešić, who is a Serbian citizen, legally bought two plots on the coast in Krašići, with a total area of 349 square meters, from other individual private owners. Like most other people who were legal owners of land on the coast, Nešić had his property formally confiscated by the state of Montenegro, the latter invoking the Maritime Property Act of 1992 and the State Property Act of 2009, then registering itself as owner of plots on the coast, and leaving Nešić the right to use the properties. The state did this without passing an individual legal act; a decision on the expropriation of Nešić’s private property and the payment of the legally prescribed compensation for expropriation. Therefore, 11 years ago, Nešić began long and onerous court proceedings against the state of Montenegro. The Municipal Court in Kotor, the High Court in Podgorica and the Supreme Court of Montenegro did not accept the argument of the Serbian citizen and his lawyer Zoran Miljanić, and rejected all their petitions to return the name of Ilija Nešić to the cadastral records as the owner and not the user of two plots on the sea coast in Krašići. Even the Constitutional Court of Montenegro rejected the constitutional complaint filed by lawyer Miljanić in February 2016, citing Article 58 of the Constitution, which stipulates that “the right to property is guaranteed and that no one may be deprived or restricted of property rights, except when required by the public interest, and should be provided fair compensation.” Such an appeal was rejected by the panel of the Constitutional Court chaired by Judge Mevlida Muratović at the end of October 2017, stating that Nešić’s property rights “had not been violated”.
However, the Serbian citizen and his legal representatives from the law firm Miljanić did not give up and appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, whose seven-member panel, headed by the presiding judge, Judge Robert Span, ruled in favor of Ilija Nešić on 9th June, stating that the action of the State of Montenegro against him was contrary to Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court did not accept the argument put forward by the permanent representative of Montenegro in Strasbourg, Valentina Pavličić, who disputed the merits of Nešić's petition. It is worth noting that before the panel of judges in Strasbourg Pavlilić, as a representative of the Government, did not dispute that there was "encroachment on the property rights" of Nešić and stated that "it was a matter of control over the use of property". Pavlilić claimed that the encroachment on Nesic's property rights was legal, that no de facto action had been taken to seize the disputed land from him, and that the encroachment on his rights was proportionate to the wider public interest.
"The Government also alleges that there were special circumstances which justified the absence of compensation, and given that the applicant (Nešić) would remain the legal holder of the right to use the land in question until its exclusion. In the event that the land was actually exempted, an expropriation procedure would be initiated and compensation would be consistently paid to it."- is part of the argumentation used in Strasbourg by the representative of Montenegro, Valentina Pavličić.
However, the European Court of Human Rights stated in the verdict that Nešić was the legal owner of that land and that by registering those properties with the state as the owner, which had previously been supported by all Montenegrin courts, his property had indeed been confiscated.
“His continued right to use the land in question does not change this, given the fact that he has lost ownership. Therefore, in this specific case, there was indeed an encroachment on the applicant's right to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions, which led to the “confiscation” of his property within the meaning of the second sentence of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1,” reads the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, placing special emphasis on the fact that the state never paid Nešić the legal compensation for his property that he registered in his own name, a fact not disputed by the state of Montenegro itself. Therefore, in its decision in the Nešić case, the European Court particularly problematized the actions of Montenegrin courts that had previously rejected his appeals and lawsuits against the state, finding that Nešić had legally lost property rights to the government, but at the same time acknowledging that removal of his property had not yet taken place through formal expropriation.
"It is unclear in this particular case as to when this expropriation would have been undertaken, given that the applicant (Nešić) is no longer the owner of the land in question," the European Court of Human Rights stated, emphasizing that the encroachment on Nešić’s property rights was inconsistent with the law and violated the provisions of Article 1 of Protocol 11 to the European Convention on Human Rights. "Since the Serbian citizen did not file a waiver, the European Court did not grant it, but obliged the state of Montenegro to reimburse a total of EUR 5,400 to Nešić within three months for court costs, both domestically and with the court in Strasbourg.
Miljanić: Huge consequences for Montenegrin judicial practice
Lawyer Zoran Miljanić
I am satisfied that the European Court of Human Rights, by passing such a judgment in the case of "Nesic v. Montenegro", fully confirmed our legal understanding of this case, which we have tried unsuccessfully for ten years now to impose as relevant before the domestic judiciary. This is of great professional satisfaction to our office,” stated lawyer Zoran Miljanić to “Vijesti”. He underlined that the European Court of Human Rights confirmed the positions of the Law Firm "Miljanic" "that there should be no transfer of private to state ownership without a corresponding individual legal act, as well as the payment of an appropriate fee."
"The European Court has clearly found that the different legal positions taken by the domestic regular courts, as well as the Constitutional Court in this case, constitute a violation of Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. We believe that this verdict will completely change case law when it comes to these and similar cases, as well as lead to changes in the regulations governing the matter as the European Court has taken a stand on “the ambiguity of the relevant law" in Montenegro,” Mijanić pointed out.
The verdict "Nesic v. Montenegro" apart from the fact that it should now automatically resolve numerous requests remaining in the cadastre from private property owners on the coast, and return to them the property that the state transferred to itself by decree referring to the Law on Maritime Property and the Law on State Property, could now result in huge claims for such illegal encroachment on the property rights of those individuals and lost profits, as they could not fully dispose of their own ancestral or legally purchased property.
June 16, 2020 - At a session on Monday night, chaired by its President Milutin Simović, the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases (NKT) reaffirmed its strategic commitment to resolutely pursue a policy of opening Montenegro while maintaining an epidemiologically stable situation, and taking all necessary measures to preserve the health of Montenegrin citizens, foreigners living in the country and tourists, the Government of Montenegro announced.
In accordance with the needs of the domestic tourist economy and the strategic interest of the state, it was decided that the policy of opening Montenegro will be supplemented by new criteria to be proposed by the Institute of Public Health, and adopted by the NKT no later than Friday, 19th June. This will be done to also allow entry to Montenegro for foreign nationals who do not carry a high epidemiological risk.
"The NKT apprised itself of the working document from the Operational Headquarters for monitoring the epidemiological situation during the tourist season with the aim of ensuring that all state bodies and the tourism industry are fully ready for Montenegro to enter the new opening phase, while maintaining a stable epidemiological situation. The tasks for the Operational Headquarters are defining the rules, procedures and monitoring of entry into Montenegro, implementation of epidemiological surveillance and treatment of potentially ill guests, including safe transportation to their home countries," it was announced after the NKT session.
The Staff, headed by Institute of Public Health (IPH) epidemiologist Sanja Medenica, consists of the Director General of the Ministry of Health Vesna Miranović, State Secretary of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism Damir Davidović, and Director General of the Directorate for the Financial System and Improvement of the Business Environment under the Ministry of Finance, Bojana Bošković.
Members of the Staff also include Secretary of the Association of Tourism and Catering of the Chamber of Commerce Sanja Marković, Director of the National Tourist Organization Željka Radak Kukavičić, Director of the Health Insurance Fund Sead Čirgić, President of the Insurance Supervisory Agency Uroš Andrijašević, IPH epidemiologist Božidarka Rakočević and Head of Sanitary Inspection at the Administration for Inspection Affairs Višnja Orban.
"Illegal rallies held yesterday in several Montenegrin cities were analyzed at the session. The NKT once again calls on all competent bodies to swiftly and resolutely take measures within their competence and implement legislation," the statement reads.
At the same time, the NKT expressed its gratitude to the Republic of Slovenia for today's opening of their border to the citizens of Montenegro.
June 15, 2020 - State guarantees of up to at least 70% of the amount of the loan for legal entities which were forbidden to work in accordance with temporary measures for the suppression of coronavirus or which had their volume of activities significantly reduced, extension of moratorium, delay of the repayment of the due tax duties- are just some of the measures proposed by the Montenegrin Employers’ Union, as part of the third Government’s package of measures.
In order to help Montenegrin recovery to recover, Employers’ Union of Montenegro has prepared Innovated (third) proposal for measures to support economy.
ECB, IMF and EIB have officially announced increase in the funds aimed at helping WB countries, creating conditions for more favorable credit funds.
“In accordance with that, it is necessary to provide state guarantees of up to at least 70% of the amount of loan for legal entities which were forbidden to work in accordance with temporary measures for the suppression of coronavirus or which had their volume of activities significantly reduced, which would create conditions for the IMF and commercial banks to provide more favorable credit lines”, Union said.
They think that Government and Central Bank guarantees should be earmarked proportionally to the market share of every individual bank in Montenegro, provided that guarantees do not amount to more than 40% of the overall placement of the bank.
Montenegrin employers hold that it is necessary to carry out analysis of the situation and possible scenarios with the aim of earmarking support funds proportionally.
In addition, Investment and Development Fund and commercial banks should enable extension of moratorium on the repayment of loans for legal entities until their business operations are back to normality.
Montenegrin employers state that it is necessary to extend deadlines for the repayment of due tax liabilities on the grounds of all types of taxes with the possibility of repayment in 24 installments.
“Legal entities should be exempt from paying local public utility taxes, fees for use of the road as access to commercial facilities for 2020, paying real estate tax…”, employers say.
They add it is necessary to revise prices of public utility services depending on whether they worked during the epidemic or not.
They point out it is necessary to exempt legal entities from tourism and hospitality sector from paying fees for the use of temporary facilities in the coastal zone and national parks.
Montenegrin employers stress it is necessary to enable deferred payment of customs and VAT for 90 days and in cycles until economic and money flaws become smooth again.
Employers say that it is necessary to adopt special law to regulate work and legal relations in emergency circumstances, or introduce urgent amendments to the Law on Labor and harmonize its provisions with the emergency needs.
It is necessary to reconsider labor costs and reduce specific items related to the salary costs.
“Entrepreneurs and companies that were forbidden to perform their activities should be entitled to a subsidy in the amount of 100% of minimum net salary during six months and 50% of the minimum net salary for vulnerable sectors, as well as deferred payment of taxes and contributions for all those subjects”, Union says.
Montenegrin employers request introduction of lower VAT rate – 7% on the accommodation services and accommodation services with services of food and non-carbonated and non-alcoholic beverage in hotels and facilities with similar purpose; increase of the generated turnover as prerequisite for mandatory VAT registration from €18.000 to €30.000.
“Entrepreneurs and micro companies would feel most benefit from this increase. The day they enter VAT system, their goods and services are by 21% more expensive, they enter a very demanding and uncertain race with major legal companies and most of them soon become illiquid”, employers say.
Employers call on all competent authorities to commit fully to taking measures and activities to combat grey economy.
“The scale of this negative trend is at alarmingly high level, and according to the official data, this phenomenon is on an upward trajectory”, they warn.