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14 Jun 2020, 19:07 PM

Petar Pejaković on the occasion of this year's Kotor Festival of Theatre for Children

June 14, 2020 - “The Kotor Festival of Theatre for Children will be held for the 28th time in its traditional period from July 2nd to 10th. It is important that the Festival is held on those days, not only because of its long tradition, but also because during this global crisis it is a positive thing to start the entire "cultural summer" in Montenegro with a festival dedicated to children and children’s culture,” said Pejaković.

Youngsters deal best with big things, even when they, like coronavirus, seem like monsters from a fairy-tale. Even as its evil fire burned on all sides, and turned their world upside down, they were patient. And as one of the rewards for their courage, the Kotor Festival of Theatre for Children, as announced by the event’s Director, Petar Pejaković, will also be held this year, from 2nd to 10th July.

Although somewhat redacted, the 27 year-old festival will continue in its attempts to bring to the most sincere of audiences positive creativity for children and young people, both in the drama and in the literary and musical segments. Pejaković spoke further to Pobjeda about this year's programme.

How much, due to the consequences of coronavirus, has this year's concept for the Festival changes, and is it possible to hold it in the traditional period?

The Kotor Festival of Theatre for Children will be held for the 28th time in its traditional period from July 2nd to 10th. It is important that the Festival is held on those days, not only because of its long tradition, but also because during this global crisis it is a positive thing to start the entire "cultural summer" in Montenegro with a festival dedicated to children and children’s culture. Children are also the most impatient and deserve the most attention first, after an extraordinary period in which we were all deprived of many things. For that reason, the motto for this year's Festival is: "Everything has stopped, but the children are still growing". That is, everything can stop, but children cannot. This sounds like a just a phrase, but it's not really, it's already a basic, and if you will, harsh reality. We have an obligation to be aware of this, to respect it and to lend a hand.

Will the youngest audience be able to watch any performances from the region and abroad this year, and will it be possible to organize the competitive part of the programme? 

We are still in discussions on performances from the region that will be part of the Festival. We are waiting for the general situation in the region to return to normal in order to bring the best possible performances from neighbouring countries. What is certain is that there will be several professional performances at the Festival coming from outside Montenegro. We have decided that this year there will be no competition taking the format of professional awards conferred by an expert jury. This is not the right time for that, and without participation from international competitors there would be no true or worthy competition. The children's jury will still work this year and will award the "Dragan Radulović" award. Here, the symbolism of this award and the act itself are more important than the competition.

 Has the Festival programme already taken shape, that is, has it been agreed what will be performed at the Festival this year?

The programme of the 28th Festival has largely been agreed. There will be 10 performances on the main theatre programme. Most of the theatres in Montenegro, several theatres from the region and some of the best productions of the Kotor Festival of Theatre for Children will be taking part. The festival has striven, especially in the last ten years, towards quality internationalization, that is, towards the opportunity for our children to see and a broad range of quality theatre performances from all over the world. So far, the Kotor Festival of Theatre for Children has been attended by children's artists from 45 countries on five continents. This year, we are, in the artistic sense, in a kind of quarantine, and we rely on our own production and capabilities. We need to make the best of this difficult circumstance. This year we need to turn to ourselves, reflect, and honestly see where we are, what we are doing, and what and how to proceed. In the case of the Kotor Festival of Theatre for Children, it is a good opportunity to get a true picture of the Montenegrin youth and children’s theatre scene and to make the right decisions on how to improve it and quickly and in a quality way, and for sure a lot needs to be done.

Can we expect some local premieres at the Festival?

From 2nd to 7th July, the City Theatre of Podgorica will present two new premieres in Kotor:  “Maca papučarica” (The Slipper Kitten) and “Na ivici neba” (On the edge of the Sky). The Nikšić Theatre will perform “Kraljević i prosjak” (The Prince and the Pauper). The Royal Theatre Zetski Dom will premiere the play “Ljubavno doba” (The Age of Love), made in the Drama Studio and intended for young people. In addition to these local premiere performances and several other performances from the region, the Festival will also welcome performances that were previously produced or co-produced by the Festival and the Nikola Đurković Cultural Centre: “Ivo Visin – kapetan od snova” (Ivo Visin - Captain of Dreams), “Lagarije - predavanje o surogatu” (Make-Believe - A Lecture on Substitutes) “Kinez” (The Chinese Man), “Cvrčak i mrav” (The Cricket and Ant) and “Kako rastu veliki ljudi” (How Great People Grow).

How has this year's music and literature programme been designed?

 The other programmes will be quite comprehensive, considering this year's situation. A new book will be presented at the Festival for the first time from Ćuk Editions - “Ivo Visin – Kapetan od snova” (Ivo Višin - Captain of Dreams) by Jelena Lela Milošević with illustrations by Đorđe Kalezić. It is a continuation of the publishing endeavours by the Festival, aiming to fill the gap in domestic literary publishing for children. In addition, two more literary evenings are planned, three programmes of children's drama, five music and dance programmes, three exhibitions, animation programmes around the city, film screenings, and over twenty art installations in the Old Town, entitled “Stone Heritage".

How significant are the consequences of coronavirus on the event financially, and did you find support in organizing this year's edition?

The plan is for patrons from the Municipality of Kotor and the Ministry of Culture to set aside 40 percent of the previous sum used to support the Festival, which as part of KotorArt is one of the three festivals of national significance in Montenegro. It is difficult to know how many cuts there will be when it comes to other areas of life, but it would not be positive for culture and children to be most affected by the emergency situation. 

Theatre is Resilient

Although we are currently a country without active cases of the virus, and many measures have been relaxed, the situation in the region and the world is still uncertain. Do you have access to alternative solutions if things take a turn for the worse?

We planned alternative solutions two months ago, so we have several scenarios for holding an extraordinary edition of this year's Festival. These include moving it, holding the various programmes separately, and virtual or “guerrilla” editions and programmes for children and youth. Theatre is very resilient, it is used to difficult conditions, and it has high standards and requirements, so it will surely survive and be a guide in terms of other areas of life.

Source: Pobjeda - Svetlana VIŠNJIĆ

13 Jun 2020, 23:13 PM
June 13, 2020 - The Government of the Republic of Slovenia has updated the list of countries safe from Covid-19 infection, from which entry into Slovenia is possible from June 15. Montenegro is among them, announced the Government on its Twitter account.
 
On June 15, Slovenia will open its borders to Italy, in addition to Montenegro.
 
"The government has taken into account the assessment of the epidemiological situation in the European Union and the Schengen area, the Balkans and the Italian regions, and the criteria prepared by the National Institute of Public Health," the Slovenian Government said in a decision.
 
This week, Slovenia allowed unrestricted entry for citizens of 14 European Union countries and citizens of Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland.
Slovenian and Italian citizens will be allowed to cross the internal border of the EU at any point along the borderline, while other citizens will have to use one of the four marked checkpoints used during the coronavirus epidemic, reported Slovenian agency STA.
 
On the other hand, the National Institute of Public Health of that country (NIJZ) compiled a list of 32 countries whose epidemiological situation is so bad that passengers from there have to go through a mandatory 14-day quarantine regardless of citizenship or residence. The decision takes effect on June 13.
 
Notable countries on this list include Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Northern Macedonia, as well as the United States, Russia and several countries in South America and Asia.
 
On the border with Croatia, which is the Schengen border, local crossings that were closed at the start of the epidemic will reopen on June 15, based on an agreement between the Slovenian and Croatian governments.
 
Thus Montenegrin citizens will be able to enter Slovenia from Monday without a negative test for coronavirus and without going to quarantine.
Yesterday, the first flight of the national airline Montenegro Airlines, after commercial air traffic was re-established, was organized from the Airport in Podgorica to the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. Twenty-seven passengers left.
 
Montenegro Airlines on the route Podgorica-Ljubljana-Podgorica flies three times a week - on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
13 Jun 2020, 16:36 PM
June 13, 2020 - The civic movement of URA has been accepted into the Greens of Europe's family at the 31st European Green Party Online Council, which was held from 10-13 June 2020.
 
The admission of the Civic Movement URA into the membership of the Greens of Europe is a significant day for Montenegro, said the President of URA, Dritan Abazović.
 
"For the first time in independent Montenegro, one opposition party has become part of a large family of political parties, the Greens in Europe, the fourth-largest force in the European Parliament. Although we are truly honored to receive 94 percent support, it is not just a historic moment for us. We needed three-quarters of the votes to be elected. This is already a big moment because this is proof - for the first time, there is a seal - that the Montenegrin opposition is the European opposition, "said Abazovic.
 
He expressed hope that this would be an introduction to "the great changes our country deserves."
 
"Introduction to a Montenegro that will be a proud, dignified country under the rule of law. A country of happy people, who will live from their work, honest, without corruption and organized crime. A Montenegro, which will protect its citizens and natural resources, and that we will all rejoice, I hope, very soon, to see capital changes in our country that will mean a better life for all. Thank you all for your support. Thank you to the MEPs of the Greens and all our partners. Montenegro is not alone; we are leading it to new victories," said Abazovic.

European Green Party Committee Recommendation for URA Movement

The European Green Party (EGP) conducted a study visit to Montenegro in August 2019 and a fact-finding mission in early March 2020, as part of the Montenegrin political party URA (United Reform Action).
 
URA has officially applied for EGP membership in October 2019. The EGP has been in contact with URA since 2018. Their party leader attended the Council in Berlin (Germany) in November 2018. After their application, a delegation was invited to the following Council in Tampere (Finland) in November 2019.
 
In August 2019, the study visit included meetings with different structures of URA, activists from NGOs, and civil society, supporting citizens' movements and struggles with several cases of environmental destruction. The visit showed that URA is a well-established party, respected and in cooperation with civil society, and with the potential to grow.
 
In March 2020, the EGP delegation- Thomas Waitz (Co-Chair), Mar Garcia (Secretary-General), and Mélanie Vogel (Member of the Committee responsible for Montenegro) visited our country. This mission included meetings with the central leadership and Political and Advisory board of URA, their Youth and Women's Forum, several local councilors, and the local party board in Budva. Other meetings were organized with EU Ambassador Orav Aivo and German Ambassador Robert Weber, NGOs "Hoću Da Ostanem and Kor- Coalition for Sustainable Development, LGBT Forum Progress, Editor-in-Chief of Balkan Insight, and a Professor of International Environmental and Private Law at the State Law university.
 
URA is recognized and generally positively viewed, and cooperates with civil society, academia, and other stakeholders. They are acknowledged as a political party and advocate against national, ethnic, and religious divisions that define the political landscape in Montenegro, concluded EGP Committee Recommendation Letter, adopted today by 94 percent of European Green Family.
 
Source: Vijesti Online, europeangreens.eu
13 Jun 2020, 15:54 PM

June 13, 2020 - Montenegro has partially enabled international bus transport of passengers with clearly specified conditions, and some of the regular international lines have been re-established with clearly defined requirements and rules. Bus traffic within the country is running smoothly. The lines are consistent, passengers respect the prescribed measures, but there are slightly fewer of them than there were before the COVID-19 epidemic.

According to data from Tivat bus station, they still do not have information on when the buses will be leaving for Belgrade, Novi, Sad, Nis, Dubrovnik, Tirana, or other destinations with regular bus lines before the COVID-19 epidemic. Now only the bus line to Sarajevo-Pale is functioning. And from the Kotor bus station, international bus transport takes place only with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Station chief Mirko Roganovic says:

"Carriers started operating on the route Ulcinj - Sarajevo at 7:40 from the bus station from Kotor. They run two companies alternately - Lalatović and Centrotrans. A line has been established with Doboj, where the carrier Lazaro runs on Mondays, Fridays, and Sundays at 6.40 p.m. These are currently the only international departures from the bus station in Kotor."

One of the carriers that run from Boka outside the borders of Montenegro is Lalatović transport. Current international lines are for Serbia and Albania. Mostly seafarers travel to Albania, and most travelers to Serbia are Montenegrin citizens studying in that country. Director Vladimir Lalatović says that the interest is high, so they run twice a week:

"We are going from Herceg Novi, Tivat, Budva, Podgorica, Bijelo Polje, travelers from Niksić and Berane are also joining. It is a matter of free transport, and all passengers must contact our agency or branch office in Herceg Novi to get the necessary information. We are preparing a list of passengers, so we arrive at the border completely ready, and there is no delay. There is no transfer because the buses go directly to Belgrade. On Sunday, June 16, our coach will drive to Novi Sad. And direct lines to Albania function without any problems. "

When it comes to returning, there are no passengers, and according to Lalatović, the reason is to avoid mandatory quarantine upon entering Montenegro. The situation is the same as for the return from Albania.

Source: Radio Tivat

13 Jun 2020, 13:53 PM
June 13, 2020 - According to the established dynamics, the Institute of Public Health (IPH) updated the list of countries whose citizens can enter Montenegro. This Friday, the list was shortened for several countries in which epidemiological conditions have worsened, and no new state has met the epidemiological criteria of Montenegro, so there are no new countries on the list. Thus, the arrival of Serbian citizens has not yet been approved, which is the cause of many recent harsh words and moves by officials of the two countries.
 
The IPH said that when updating the list, they paid particular attention to the issue of opening free passenger traffic with Serbia, considering the importance of cross-border cooperation and connection between the two countries with private, family, and economic relations.
 
"However, the decision not to include Serbia on the list of countries was influenced primarily by the unclear situation with epidemiological data, the choice of health institutions of the Republic of Serbia to remove thousands of infected people from the list infected by one act, the increase in the number of patients in recent days, thus an inevitable deterioration of the epidemiological situation. Together with this, one particular problem was the complete lack of response to the Institute of Public Health of Montenegro's timely and professional inquiry, which aimed to exchange epidemiological data and eliminate all doubts, "explained the IPH.
 
They said it was the only possible and correct way to relax the measures and meet both sides' interests.
 
"We are sure that it is clear to everyone that the Institute of Public Health is working exclusively to protect and improve the health of the citizens of Montenegro and their guests."
 
"Despite all the understandable impatience regarding the opening of borders with Serbia, such a move, without clear epidemiological support and evidence that would indicate that the opening of borders is possible without an acceptable risk to the health of all in Montenegro, is not possible at this time." The IPH explained. 

IPH removed five countries from the list

Five countries, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Israel, and Suriname, have been removed from the list of allowed arrivals and stays in Montenegro, as their epidemiological situation has deteriorated so that the rate of active cases in these countries is currently above 25 per 100,000 inhabitants.
 
"Following the previously determined dynamics, the Institute of Public Health of Montenegro performed an analysis of available epidemiological data and updated the list of countries from which arrival in Montenegro is not subject to special restrictions and public health measures," the IPH said.
 
This week's list will not be expanded because there were no countries that met the set criteria in the period since the last update.
 
The updated list will take effect on Monday, June 15.
12 Jun 2020, 21:13 PM

Update on Chapters 23 and 24

June 12, 2020  - The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges in the area of judicial reform and contributed to certain objective delays in Montenegro's work on its rule of law agenda, the "Non-Paper" document states.

The European Commission is concerned about the controversial appointment of senior officials in the Montenegrin judiciary, and challenges remain with regard to the overall situation in the area of freedom of expression and the media, according to a draft informal progress document in Chapters 23 and 24, known as the “Non-Paper”, "Vijesti" reports.

The non-paper on the situation regarding Chapters 23 and 24 for Montenegro should be published soon, and provides an overview of Montenegro's progress in these areas since the last non-paper presented in November 2019, as well as relevant statistics for 2019.

"During the reporting period, Montenegro continued to implement action plans for Chapters 23 and 24 and other strategic documents in the field of the rule of law, and has also adopted new ones. It worked to address the extraordinary challenges highlighted in the 2019 EC Report, the conclusions of the Council of June 18, 2019 and the non-paper from November 2019, especially in the critical areas of media freedom, the fight against corruption and human trafficking,” the Non-Paper states.

It adds that the COVID-19 pandemic created additional challenges in the field of judicial reform and contributed to certain objective delays in Montenegro's work on its rule of law agenda.

There is mention once again that the parliament could not provide the necessary two-thirds majority for important appointments in the judiciary and, therefore, key functions are being filled by officials in an acting capacity (Supreme State Prosecutor, Agency for Prevention of Corruption).

"In addition, concerns are growing about the controversial appointments of senior judicial officials, which are not in line with GRECO's recommendations on judicial independence. It remains important that Montenegro does not go backwards in judicial reform and continues to see results, especially in the fight against corruption, while ensuring the true independence of all institutions," the EC said.

They note that a legal framework guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary exists, however, the judiciary and the prosecution are still perceived as vulnerable to political interference.

It is recalled that between 2019 and early 2020, the Judicial Council reappointed a total of seven court presidents, including Supreme Court President Vesna Medenica, for a third term, raising concerns about the way the Judicial Council interprets the Constitution and legislation.

They also point to the election of a "presiding judge" instead of the president of the Constitutional Court, although the legal framework does not provide for such a category.

"Under Chapter 23, Montenegro is continuing to work on a new legal framework for the media. There has been some progress in investigating old cases of attacks on media property. But challenges to the overall situation in the area of ​​freedom of expression and the media remain. New criminal investigations have been opened in cases of corruption, and property has been temporarily or permanently confiscated," the EC said.

The EC is also raising the issue of the objectivity of the evaluation procedure and the application of evaluation criteria, when promoting judges to higher positions. Also, the practice of redistributing a large number of cases between courts has continued in order to reduce backlogs, but without applying clear criteria.

They add that in 2019, there were no new disciplinary proceedings against prosecutors (there were four in 2018). In the same period, there were 14 reports of alleged violations of the code of ethics for judges.

Chapter 24 summarizes the initial results of the fight against trafficking in persons. Internal organization and coordination of law enforcement agencies have been further improved, reflecting an increase in arrests and prosecutions.

Montenegro's active involvement in international police co-operation has again resulted in successful operations against Montenegrin criminal clans, at home and abroad, including two high-profile cases.

However, access to key databases is still limited and slows investigations. Long court proceedings and additional adjournments continue to prevent verdicts in organized crime cases. Final verdicts based on plea bargains remain the norm, leading to more lenient sentences. In the area of ​​migration and asylum, Montenegro has continued to show resilience and commitment amid increased migration flows across the country. An agreement with the EU, which envisages the deployment of European border and coast guards along the border of Montenegro, has been ratified and is expected to enter into force on July 1, 2020.

The Fight Against Corruption

The EC states that despite strengthening the capacity of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (APC) and the proactive work of the new Council (for example, the Government Housing Policy for Officials), challenges remain regarding integrity, impartiality, transparency, independence, a non-selective approach and the uniform and full application of legislation.

It is worth recalling that the APC investigated 31 unexplained wealth cases in 2019, but did not find any irregularities.

In addition, the amendments to the Law on Financing of Political Parties, which were adopted by the parliament in December last year, only partially addressed OSCE/ODIHR recommendations. This law permits the allocation of social assistance from the budget reserve in an election year.

"Appropriate safeguards must be put in place to prevent the misuse of public funds for election campaign purposes," the document said.

In addition, the implementation of the current law on free access to information has not helped  increase the accountability and transparency of public services.

"The overall impact of anti-corruption measures in particularly vulnerable areas (local self-government, spatial planning, public procurement, privatization, health and education) has yet to show tangible results," the EC said.

They add that the amendments to the Law on Public Procurement, which were adopted at the end of 2019, should improve the transparency of public procurement procedures and help reduce corruption risks.

As for high-level corruption, they state that records have been established of investigations, prosecutions and final convictions in high-level corruption cases, further consolidation is yet to be carried out.

The "Envelope" affair is duly recalled, the prosecution accusing former Mayor of Podgorica and current advisor to the President Slavoljub Stijepovic of money laundering, as well mentioning that there were no changes in connection with the extradition of the former president of SCG Svetozar Marović, who is in Serbia.

Protection of Personal Data

New legislation is being prepared in the field of personal data protection.

"The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the challenges in this area in finding the right balance between health care on the one hand, and respect for the confidentiality of personal health data and the right to privacy of citizens on the other. A list of all persons subject to self-isolation measures was published and then used by one individual to develop an application allowing users to find those in self-isolation. In April 2020, a list of more than 60 people infected with the virus, containing their names, birth data and ID number, was leaked. A criminal investigation is currently underway," the non-paper stated.

As for freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the EC states that the Law on Freedom of Religion was adopted in December last year in order to regulate the status of religious communities and that the Government, after large religious gatherings and protests, initiated a dialogue between legal experts and the Serbian Orthodox Church, which considers itself directly threatened by this law.

The arrest of priests for non-compliance with protection measures against coronavirus is also mentioned.

The Media

In 2019, four attacks on journalists were registered. Charges have been brought in three cases.

Protection was offered to two journalists, and further cyber-attacks against the media were recorded.

"Despite the initial results of the investigation into the serious attack on journalist Olivera Lakić in May 2018, no charges have been brought so far. No further light has been shed on four cases of attacks on media property in 2011 and 2014, when five vehicles were damaged and destroyed. Two people - minors at the time of the attack - were arrested, but the organizers of the attack remain unknown,” the EC document said.

It is added that the recommendations of the Commission for Monitoring Investigations of Attacks on the Media have yet to be implemented.

It is also stated that the transition of RTCG from state media to a fully public service has not yet been completed, and the appointment of a new Board in June 2019 failed to improve the editorial independence and professional standards of the Public Service.

Gender Equality

The EC states that sexual harassment has not yet been qualified as a criminal offence, and in 2019, a large number of cases of violence against women and of domestic violence were recorded.

"Despite the commitment of the authorities and the concrete measures taken, challenges remain regarding the reaction of the services to cases of domestic violence," the non-paper states, pointing to too lenient sanctions.

Also, it adds, a very small number of reported cases of sexual violence against children continue to cause concern due to insufficient reporting and identification of the victims.

Non-Paper on Fight Against Organized Crime

The EC notes that the police need more senior investigators in areas of organized crime and drug smuggling, and experts in charge of special investigative measures and cybercrime, economic crime and forensics.

They recall that murders related to criminal clans, which cross state borders, are still frequent in Montenegro.

While the number of investigations and prosecutions regarding serious and organized crimes is growing, the number of final convictions remains low, court proceedings are overly long due to frequent delays, and very often there are lenient sentences for suspects who are cooperative regardless of the severity of the crime.

"The response to crimes, with some exceptions, seems lacklustre, with verdicts, fines and confiscation of property disproportionately low compared to the severity of the crime," the EC said.

They point to limited initiation of financial investigations, which in most cases are initiated too late and remain focused on finding assets, which is not in line with EU standards.

The legal framework for the fight against organized crime is, as they say, largely established and harmonized with the Acquis Communautaire (EU).

"In December 2019, Montenegro again amended the law on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. In 2020, the law will need to be amended again, in order to remove the remaining shortcomings and harmonize it with the EU anti-money laundering directive", the EC states. They also recall that in May 2020, Moneyval officially removed Montenegro from the monitoring process fourth round, considering that the country has taken sufficient steps to rectify the shortcomings identified in 2015, and that the Montenegrin Anti-Money Laundering Authority has applied for reinstatement to Egmont Group membership, which was withdrawn after the Administration ceased to exist in its previous legal form.

The integration of the Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing into the police department within the Police Directorate led to the automatic exclusion of Montenegro from the Egmont Group, a platform for ensuring the safe exchange of money laundering intelligence around the world.

Tobacco Smuggling

It is recalled that in 2019, there were no court verdicts in the fight against tobacco smuggling. However, criminal proceedings were conducted in three major cases, including one case involving 22 suspects. In another case, a well-known suspected smuggler was arrested, who had been wanted for 20 years. Seizures of illegal tobacco are regularly carried out by customs and police. The total amount of seizures in 2019 was 1,719 million packs of cigarettes, worth 39 million euros, and 1,531 kg of cut tobacco.

"However, despite the growing efforts of law enforcement agencies in this area and the improved cooperation between Montenegrin customs and the EU and international partners, the number of proceedings initiated is still small, given the estimated scale of tobacco smuggling in Montenegro and beyond," the non-paper states.

Source: Vijesti Online   Biljana Matijašević

12 Jun 2020, 13:20 PM
June 12, 2020 - With changes to the decision on the amount and manner of calculation and payment of fees for the use of national parks, adopted by the Government of Montenegro yesterday, children up to the age of 15 will now be able to enter national parks in our country free of charge.
 
Until now, children under the age of 12 were not required to pay an entry fees to visit national parks.
 
- Amendments to the decision were made following the demand for specific services in national parks. There was a need to abolish and reduce the prices of particular fees. Tickets to the Durmitor National Park for three, seven, and 15 days and tickets to all national parks for ten days were cancelled because the analyzes showed little interest in those tickets - the Government stated.
 
Fees for commercial fishing have also been abolished following a new decision on the cost of issuing a license for commercial fisheries and aquaculture.
 
- Annual ticket fees for all national parks are now 50 percent cheaper. Discounts have also been introduced for fees for sport fishing and sport fishing licenses for members of sport fishing associations, clubs, and societies - the Government said.
 
The new regulation was adopted at the request of commercial fishers from Skadar Lake and the National Parks of Montenegro to reduce the annual fee for commercial fishing by 50 percent and extend the validity of issued licenses to mitigate the consequences of the new coronavirus.
 
- National Parks of Montenegro are obliged to issue a 50 percent discount to all commercial fishermen who apply for a license to conduct commercial fishing on Skadar Lake from the date of adoption of the information. The fee reduction applies to all future annual licenses issued for commercial fishing valid until the end of this year - said the Government.
 
Commercial fishers from Skadar Lake, whose licenses were issued on March 23 and who paid the fishing permissions in full, will have their licenses extended for another year free of charge. For fishing licenses that were valid on March 20 or paid from January 1 to May 1, the validity is extended until September 1 without an additional fee.
12 Jun 2020, 13:02 PM

June 12, 2020 - One of the world's most relevant comics artists, the phenomenal Cian Tormey, is the new confirmed guest of this year's edition of the Herceg Novi Comics Festival- HSF, which will be held from September 4 to 9 at several locations in Herceg Novi.

The outstanding Dublin-based artist works for the world's two most prominent labels- US giants Marvel and DC. In addition to Batman and titles from the "Batman" universe such as Batgirl with screenwriter Cecil Castellucci and Catwoman with legendary Sean Gordon Murphy and Blake Northcott, Cian Torney is currently working on a new edition of Doctor Doom and Scarlet Witch for Marvel and the latest sequel to the excellent Injustice series for DC Comics.

Before a full transition to Ninth Art, Tormey was a multi-award winning art director in the world of marketing. In parallel with his regular job, he worked on the DC Anthologies comic book series with well-known screenwriters such as Kyle Higgins, Mariko Tamaki, and Paul Dini. His work did not go unnoticed even by competitors Marvel, and he was brought onboard for the Doom story within the critically highly rated saga War of the Realms, and on titles such as Valkyrie and Annihilation Scourge: Alpha.

"As the coronavirus pandemic subsides across Europe, so the number countries to which Montenegro opens its borders is increasing. The last updated list includes the Republic of Ireland, and this is the perfect reason to announce another one special guest of the fourteenth edition of the HSF, which comes from that very country. It is a great joy to have the honour of hosting this artist in Herceg Novi. Thus we further raise the reputation of our festival, which in art circles in Europe already stands as the main summer event dedicated to comics," say the organizers of HSF.

They remind us that the list of special guests announced so far includes the British PJ Holden, Slovenian Izar Lunaček, German Sedat Oezgen, Russian Artyom Trakhanov, and Italians Marco Mastraco and Mario Milano.

11 Jun 2020, 21:07 PM
June 11, 2020 - The three closest persons who were in contact with a mother and son from Bosnia and Herzegovina, infected with the coronavirus, and who were staying in Herceg Novi, tested negative for COVID-19, the Institute of Public Health announced.
 
Tests for the remaining two contacts of the infected persons will be processed during the day. The IPH also said that all contacts are in strict isolation and that they still do not have any infection symptoms.
 
The IPH explains that the local epidemiological service of the Health Center Herceg Novi, on Wednesday, June 10, received a notification from the epidemiological service of the Health Center Trebinje, that during the day a positive PCR result was obtained from a sample of a patient from that municipality who stayed with her son. They allegedly stayed in their apartment in Herceg Novi, between June 1st and 3rd.
 
Epidemiological research and exchange of information reconstructed patients' movement before, during, and after their stay in Montenegro.
 
"According to available data, the index case is a son who, before arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, stayed in Belgrade, where, while he was travelling, the disease was confirmed among other family members who did not travel or come to Montenegro," said the statement.
 
Five persons from Montenegro who were in contact with the mother and son were identified.
 
"According to the usual protocol, they were placed in self-isolation and sampled for laboratory processing due to suspicion of possible exposure to the new coronavirus. At the moment, none of the contacts have symptoms of a respiratory infection even nine days after the potential exposure, "it is stated in the announcement.
 
The results of laboratory analyses, which were completed early this morning with the three closest contacts, were negative. In contrast, the processing of the remaining two will be completed by the end of the day, the Institute of Public Health pointed out.
 
"All contacts remain in strict self-isolation until the end of the incubation period of 14 days, when they will be re-tested by the laboratory," the statement reads.
 
The IPH added that this situation is neither unusual nor unexpected, especially considering all the knowledge about the coronavirus and the frequency of asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
 
"Even though we have not had proven cases of the disease for almost 40 days, the Institute and all local epidemiological services will continue with intensive active epidemiological surveillance, searching for possible cases of infection and epidemiological treatment of all suspected cases," the statement concluded.
11 Jun 2020, 19:46 PM

June 11, 2020 - The Croatian National Civil Protection Headquarters is not responding to questions as to what epidemiological criteria they were using when they decided not to open the borders to the inhabitants of the only corona-free country in Europe; the Institute for Public Health (IPH) says that it is up to each individual country.

The fact that Croatia has not yet opened its borders to the citizens of Montenegro, and Germany does not recommend traveling to the only corona-free destination in Europe, is an internal issue for those countries.

Asked to comment on the decisions of those countries, i.e whether they were guided by epidemiological criteria, the Institute for Public Health (IPH) told "Vijesti" that it is the individual right of each country to define the conditions and countries to which it will open borders as part of easing measures. 

"The position of most EU countries is that in the first instance they focus on easing measures within the Union itself, and after that towards other countries. Decisions on opening borders are an internal issue for every state and should be viewed as such,” replied the Institution headed by Boban Mugoša.

The Croatian National Civil Protection Headquarters, which decided to open their borders with 10 countries at the end of May, did not answer "Vijesti" even after a week as to whether and what epidemiological criteria were followed and why the citizens of Montenegro, which has declared the end of the epidemic and where there are no active cases of Covid-19, cannot travel to the neighbouring country.

Montenegro's borders opened for more than 130 countries on June 1st, including Croatia and Germany. Nationals of these countries can therefore come and stay in Montenegro without quarantine, self-isolation or a negative test for the new coronavirus.

The IPH proposed the decision on the basis of a number of criteria, the most significant being the number of active cases of Covid. The borders are open to countries that have up to 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

"Epidemiological assessment and analysis of the disease showed that the rate of active cases of 25 per 100,000 inhabitants indicates the level of local transmission, which represents an acceptable risk for unhindered movement and stays for the inhabitants of these countries in Montenegro," explained the IPH.

 

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The measure concerning the stay in quarantine or self-isolation for 28 days has been amended: Mugoša  Photo: Boris Pejović

Montenegro was the last European country to officially report the new coronavirus, and the first to declare no active cases. The first cases were discovered on 17th March, the epidemic was declared on 26th March, and the end declared on 2nd June.

324 patients were registered, while nine deaths were recorded.

According to the IPH, there are 30 "zero" patients, and 260 patients infected through contact with these, while in 34 people the source of the disease is unknown.

Has the Netherlands retaliated in kind?

"Vijesti" also asked IPH how they would comment on the fact that neither does the Netherlands does not recommend a trip to Montenegro. The institution referred to the official position of the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1st May, which provides information on the current situation in Montenegro regarding the coronavirus, travel, as well as other useful information for their citizens.

"Here, the ban on entry for Dutch citizens to Montenegro is stated as the reason. Indeed, the latest version of the list of countries adopted by the National Coordination Body does not feature the Netherlands," the IPH replied.

The same institution referred also to the map published on the website of the Government of the Netherlands, on which Montenegro is shown in red, as a country to which travel is not recommended.

"The information on the map was updated on 23rd March, and is a consequence of the fact that the logistical aspects of Dutch tourist travel at the time the map was produced may have been complicated given the severity, dynamics and intensity of preventive measures and restrictions imposed during the previous period." the IPH pointed out.

The website of the Government of the Netherlands states that, given the new coronavirus, travel to Montenegro is not advised, given the risk, and that the measures taken by local authorities to fight the spread of Covid can change quickly.

It is also stated that protests against the expropriation of the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church by the Government of Montenegro have been ongoing since December 2019, and that citizens of the Netherlands are advised "to avoid crowds and demonstrations".

14 days of self-isolation now sufficient

The IPH amended the measures related to the period that citizens should spend in quarantine and self-isolation. Thousands of people in Montenegro spent 28 days in quarantine and self-isolation, and authorities now say the measure has been amended, as new studies suggest that 14 days of limited movement and follow-up upon return from the affected area is justified.

"Although seen in some cases in China, the extremely long incubation of the new coronavirus is more of a precedent than the rule. The current position of the World Health Organization and other public health authorities is that it is more a matter of repeated, undiagnosed exposure to the virus than a long incubation," the IPH replied.

The institution claims that such cases have not been identified in a statistically significant population, given that the number of epidemiologically confirmed cases has unfortunately increased significantly worldwide compared to at the beginning of events in China, due to the spread of the disease.

“Recent studies published, both in cases from China and in other countries, indicate that the incubation time varies significantly among patients, that it is very difficult to determine in many cases, and that the mean incubation time in most published studies is about five days. "In 97.5 percent of symptomatic cases, the symptoms appear within 12 days after exposure," the response reads.

No border opening for Serbian citizens this week? 

On 5th June, the IPH added to the list of countries for which borders have been opened, which includes Malta, Cyprus and Ireland. Among the countries from which arrival and stay is allowed without the compulsory institutional quarantine, there is still no neighbouring Serbia.

In Serbia, there were only six active cases per 100,000 inhabitants last Saturday, which is ten times less than on Friday, when there were 64 per 100,000.

According to data published on covid19.rs, 4,052 people in Serbia had recovered from coronavirus in the 24 hour period.

The Assistant Director of the Institute for Public Health "Dr Milan Jovanović Batut", Darija Kisić Tepavčević, stated that the sudden jump in recoveries had nothing to do with non-medical reasons. She pointed out that the Crisis Medical Staff made a decision to ask for one, instead of two negative consecutive tests in asymptomatic patients, and that the monitoring period for the disease had been shortened for this group of patients.

The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, welcomed the news that the conditions for opening the Montenegrin borders had been met.

However, the Montenegrin authorities are unlikely to allow Serbian citizens to enter and stay without a 14-day institutional quarantine before Friday.

At a session at the end of the week, the National Coordination Body decided last Friday to update and publish the list of countries with less than 25 active cases of coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants from which entry to Montenegro is allowed without the mandatory institutional self-isolation. This means that Serbia could be on the IPH list by Friday, if the number of cases does not increase over 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Forbes: Montenegro is safer than the United States and Russia

Montenegro is in 42nd place on the US magazine Forbes’ list of the safest countries in the current phase of the coronavirus pandemic, and is, along with several other Balkan countries, better placed than great world powers, such as the United States, Russia and Great Britain.

At the top of the list, based on a report from the organization "Deep Knowledge Group", is Switzerland, while at the moment the most dangerous country is Sudan. Of the countries in the region, Slovenia is the best placed, ranking 32nd.

The study points out that Switzerland and Germany are ranked first and second due to strong economies and caution when lifting restrictions.

Source: Vijesti Online, Ana Komatina

11 Jun 2020, 12:56 PM
June 11, 2020 - In Kotor this year, they do not expect a large number of visitors or great business results. The director of the local TO, Ana Nives Radović, says that it will be good if there are visits at all and if the tourist economy has reasons to function.
 
Radović does not expect much from the campaign of the National Tourist Organization "Summer at Home" in the city because, as she added, domestic guests and guests from the region want a vacation on the beaches. This year, she expects more significant income from the post-season, although she says that it will be what Kotor has had so far during the winter.
 
Radović said on the morning program of RTCG that there are many reasons why Kotor cannot expect significant income from tourism this year.
 
- It will be good if there are visits and if the tourist economy has reasons to function. Many service providers are thinking of taking a break from work this year because profitability is not on their side - said Radović.
 
As for the post-season, the results could be a little better, because the interest in excursion tourism is generally most significant at that time of year.
 
- This year, due to numerous recommendations from the World Health Organization and the way they travel in general, we do not expect more attendance because of a different arrival policy, both when it comes to cruise guests and arrivals by plane. Numerous factors determine the sustainability of tourist and hospitality activities and the profitability of their business - said Radović.
 
This year in September and October, Kotor can hope for the tourist traffic that the city generates typically during the winter months.
 
They do not expect much from the "Summer at Home" campaign in that city because, as Radović said, domestic guests are fewest in Kotor.
 
- Kotor is attractive for sightseeing, but our people want beaches and similar attractions so Kotor can be interesting for day trips. There are no longer reservations for guests from Montenegro. We expect a visit to restaurants and one-day trips, but we do not expect significant income from the 'Summer at Home' campaign - Radović pointed out.
 
 
- Tourists and excursion tax as our primary sources of financing will not be in a single-digit percentage compared to the previous period. Therefore, we will turn to project activities and everything that burdened the city's infrastructure. We will take much more care to be an 'eco-friendly' destination and first carry out projects to protect biodiversity, promote natural and cultural heritage, and provide money from European funds that have not been available to us so far - Radović added.
 
Financial expert Ana Nives Radović does not expect a more visible recovery of the tourism industry in under five years.
 
Source: Boka News
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