10 May 2019 - Prime Minister Duško Marković hosted Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Miroslav Lajčák.
The meeting assessed that the cooperation between Montenegro and the OSCE is excellent and beneficial.
The Prime Minister thanked Lajčák for the assistance that the OSCE provides to Montenegro, saying that this cooperation helped Montenegro to strengthen the rule of law and build democratic institutions. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Lajčák pointed out that Montenegro is a reliable partner of the OSCE that fulfills its obligations and assessed that Montenegro's progress is visible both in the political and economic and developmental contexts.
Both sides expressed readiness for further cooperation in the reform of electoral legislation, with the assessment that the dialogue should be continued in the appropriate parliamentary committee, with the OSCE's readiness to provide technical support to the continuation of the dialogue.
Furthermore, the two officials discussed the situation in the region and its European perspective, while Lajčák noted that Montenegro is an example of good regional cooperation and policy towards other countries in the region.
The Prime Minister expressed full support of Montenegro to the priorities of the Slovakian presidency of the Organization for Security and Co-operation, especially to multilateralism and conflict prevention.
Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, Ambassador Maryse Daviet and Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Montenegro Roman Hloben also attended the meeting.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro Srđan Darmanović recently met in Budva with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, Miroslav Lajčák.
09 May 2019 - Montenegro's High Court on Thursday sentenced 13 people, including two Russian secret service operatives, up to 15 years in prison after they were convicted of plotting to overthrow the country’s government and prevent it from joining NATO.
Following the verdict, the Montenegrin government published an official statement, in which they explained that “the judiciary has shown adherence to the constitutional position of autonomy and resistance to every kind of pressure and external influence”.
“Montenegro, as a NATO member, shows that it is steadfast on the path of integration and protection of European values and standards,” the government commented in a pair of posts on Twitter.
Two alleged Russian military intelligence officers who were accused of organizing the overthrow of Montenegro's government coup were convicted and sentenced in absentia. Chief Judge Suzana Mugoša said the two Russians, identified as Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, were convicted of “attempted terrorism” and “creating a criminal organization.”
Eduard Shishmakov was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison for creating a criminal organization and eight years in prison for attempted terrorism, for a total of 15 years in prison as a partially concurrent sentence. Vladimir Popov was sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison on each of the charges. Set up to be served as partially concurrent sentences; the length of Popov’s total sentence is to be 12 years.
Chief Judge Suzana Mugoša said that the Russians provided at least 200,000 EUR for the purchase of weapons. She said that Shishmakov and Popov tried to recruit “as many people as possible to come to the protest” and try to “change the electoral will” and “prevent Montenegro from joining NATO.”
Two leaders of Montenegro's opposition Democratic Front, Andrija Mandić and Milan Knežević, were sentenced to five years each. Mandić and Knežević have vowed to fight any attempt to imprison them because, as they said during a recent press conference, “they do not accept the arrest warrant”. They also added that “difficulties and consequences will be borne by those who come after them;" all the while warning of chaos if they are jailed after the verdict was announced.
"In this politically motivated and rigged trial, the insolence, superficiality, and obedience of the Montenegrin judiciary system was exposed,” it said in a statement by the DF leaders.
Montenegro's High Court found that the group had plotted to occupy the country's parliament during the 2016 parliamentary elections, assassinate then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and install a pro-Russian leadership.
"Each member of the criminal organization had a predetermined task and role, and in the operation of a criminal organization there was a willingness to apply violence and intimidation. All members were accountable and very well aware of their deeds, wanting them to be executed and knowing that their offense was unlawful," Mugoša explained.
09 May 2019 - President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović met with President of Albania Ilir Meta in Tirana on the eve of the meeting between leaders of the Brdo - Brioni process.
President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović expressed satisfaction with the continuity of the high-level meetings, which enabled the further development of bilateral relations between two friendly neighboring countries.
"Montenegro and the Republic of Albania do not have open bilateral issues, and such dynamic bilateral cooperation can be used for further improvement of relations, as well as for joint support and encouragement to the reform processes in the Region, and its stability," said President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović.
Albanian President Ilir Meta, with the pleasure of strengthening friendly relations, especially highlighted the attitude of Montenegrin authorities towards the Albanian minority in Montenegro, as well as the joint commitment to resolving regional issues, which are a prerequisite for overall stability and further integration in the EU. Albania, together with the international community, counts on the constructive role of Montenegro and President Đukanović personally in resolving open issues and the process of further integration of the region.
The High officials emphasized the importance of the greater commitment and presence of the EU in the Western Balkans, which is crucial for the European perspective of all Western Balkans countries. In this context, they stressed the importance of the recent meeting in Berlin, assessing the positive agreement on the future meeting in Paris, which could result in progress in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, to the common good of the entire region.
08 May 2019 - The EU needs to integrate the Western Balkans quickly to safeguard its future as well as protect the buffer region from Russian and Chinese influence, Montenegro's president Milo Đukanović said on Wednesday.
Pro-European Union Đukanović is his country's longest-serving politician. He led it into NATO in 2017 and is steering its EU membership bid in the face of fierce Russian opposition.
Moscow, through politics, and Beijing, via loans, aims to "prevent NATO and EU expansion in the Balkans," Đukanović told Reuters in an interview.
That meant the region needed to be "the zone of the European Union's responsibility and its strategic interest".
"Unless the EU realises that, I am afraid its future might be in jeopardy," he said, speaking a day before verdicts are due in the trial of alleged participants in a 2016 coup plot against him.
Out of six Western Balkans' EU aspirants, the tiny Adriatic state and neighbouring Serbia are next in line to join, though neither is likely to become an EU state in the foreseeable future.
They have been told they must root out organised crime, corruption and nepotism and reduce red tape first, and the political elite in both countries is deeply divided between pro-EU and pro-Russia camps.
Both governments have this year faced a wave of protests over alleged corruption, cronyism and abuse of office.
Meanwhile, the EU is cutting funding to the Western Balkan countries along with the World Bank and other western lenders, leaving China to fill the gap.
"Third parties, such as Russia and China, are making gains due to a lack of a concrete EU activity in the region," he said, citing enlargement fatigue and internal political tensions as factors in the latter's shift towards a more hands-off approach
A Chinese loan for the first phase of a new highway link with Serbia has sent Montenegro's debt soaring and forced its government to raise taxes and partially freeze public sector wages to get its finances in order.
"Why don't the European financial institutions offer the same conditions," said Đukanović, defending the deal.
He said that reforms he was trying to pursue - including structural ones to maintain strong economic growth - had led to protests, but said foreign powers had also played their part.
The 2016 election day assassination plot that Đukanović survived was designed to bring a pro-Russian party to power.
"Divided societies are the remnants of the wars of the 1990s. The politics of nationalism has been defeated but not buried, and some of these people are trying to revive it and cannot accept the fact that our place is in the EU," he said.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; editing by John Stonestreet)
08 May 2019 - The EBRD held its 2019 Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Sarajevo on 7-8 May, throwing a spotlight on the economic opportunities in the Western Balkans, where the EBRD is a major investor.
About 2,000 delegates attended the conference, which focused on the business outlook for Western Balkan economies and on how growth in the region can be strengthened. The leaders of the six Western Balkan nations – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia – attended the conference, taking part in a high-level panel discussion that underscored the importance of regional cooperation.
Regional cooperation and integration played a key role at the Annual Meeting and Business Forum, where the theme this year was Connecting Economies for Stronger Growth. Particularly in the Western Balkans, the EBRD has placed a very high priority on promoting connectivity via its investments, to promote both physical infrastructure links as well as ties between markets that strengthen trade and improve the business climate as the countries continue on their path towards EU approximation.
The EBRD is a leading investor in the Western Balkans, providing a record level of finance of €1.1 billion in 2018, and supporting their economies’ goal of membership of the European Union.
The EBRD expects continued steady economic growth in the six Western Balkan countries in 2019, despite a cooling international economic environment which may see the pace of growth slowing in some countries in the region.
Presenting its latest economic forecasts at the EBRD’s Annual Meeting in Sarajevo, the Bank reports that Montenegro and Serbia were the fastest growing economies in the region in 2018, with both countries enjoying strong investment flows.
Commenting on the regional outlook, EBRD Lead Economist Peter Tabak said further reform efforts and stronger investment activity are needed to deliver growth required for sustainable convergence with European Union income levels. “Stronger regional integration, including through the abolition of remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade would open up new growth opportunities for domestic companies and foreign investors,” he added.
In Montenegro, growth surprised on the upside. In 2018, the economy expanded by close to five per cent, on the back of highway construction, real estate projects at the coast, an exceptionally strong tourism season and a further rise in private consumption.
As concluded at the Annual Meeting, the completion of large investment projects and continuing fiscal consolidation will lead to a significant slowdown in growth to 2.8 per cent in 2019 and 2.6 per cent in 2020.
The Annual Business Forum provided a platform for high-level discussion on themes ranging from boosting small business to the effects of migration on labour markets, the opportunities and pitfalls of tourism and ways to connect local and regional economies to the wider global economy.
May 8, 2019 - At the tenth civil protest ODUPRISE, the organizers condemned Luko Kaznic (Onion Punishment), with a doll representing the state's special prosecutor, Milivoje Katnic, for life-long ban from public life, and burned it in front of the building of the Presidency. Organizers joined a large number of free citizens to "sow together the seeds of freedom, and once again said that there is a lot of injustice and that continuous resistance is a prerequisite for common sense!".
May 7, 2019 - Under the conditions of non-functioning of the institutions of the system, citizens are the supreme prosecutor and judge, they said from the ODUPRISE movement ahead of the protest scheduled for today (Tuesday, 7 May) at 8 pm on the platform in front of the Montenegrin Assembly in Podgorica.
05 May 2019 - At the end of a two-day stay in Arizona, President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović met with Arizona State Prosecutor Marko Brnović in Phoenix on his initiative.
Being informed that Đukanović participated in the Sedona Forum, Brnović expressed his wish to meet with the President. In an open and hearty conversation, Brnović informed Đukanović about his Montenegrin roots, pointing out that he is proud of his origins, which he also transferred to his family, with whom he regularly visits Montenegro.
He is also a distinguished lawyer, as well as his wife, a federal court judge, appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.
Knowing the reason for the President's stay in Arizona, he also informed him about his contacts with Senator McCain, who, Brnović said, greatly respected Montenegro and Đukanović personally.
The next meeting is planned for this summer when the Brnović family plans to visit Montenegro.
During his stay in Arizona, the President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović spoke at the panel on "Why is US Leadership Still Important?", whose introductory was made by former Arizona State Senator Jeff Flake. In addition to President Đukanović, panelists were John Rood Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island. Former Senator Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire moderated the discussion.
On that theme, President Đukanović referred to the historically important role that the United States played in the Western Balkans in the nineties and apostrophized the importance of maintaining US attention to the region, together with the EU, to successfully resolve open issues that burden its European and Euro-Atlantic path. He drew attention to the growing challenges facing the North Atlantic Partnership in the modern era, to the significance of Euro-Atlanticism for America, Europe, and the whole world, and called for determination in defense of the Euro-Atlantic system of values.
May 6, 2019 - The US organization Freedom House classified Montenegro as a partially free state and assessed that President Milo Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) used an extensive network of corruption, including allegedly linked organized crime, to remain in power for nearly three decades.
05 May 2019 - On the second day of the Sedona Forum, President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović spoke at the panel on "Why is US Leadership Still Important?", whose introductory was made by former Arizona State Senator Jeff Flake. In addition to President Đukanović, panelists were John Rood Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island. The discussion was moderated by former Senator Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire.
Opinions on the importance of the American leading role in defending democracy and achieving prosperity and security in the world were shared, as well as ways to preserve the Euro-Atlantic advantage in global and regional geopolitical matches.
On that theme, President Đukanović referred to the historically important role that the United States played in the Western Balkans in the nineties and apostrophized the importance of maintaining US attention to the region, together with the EU, with a view to successfully resolving open issues that burden its European and Euro-Atlantic path. He drew attention to the growing challenges facing the North Atlantic Partnership in the modern era, to the significance of Euro-Atlanticism for America, Europe, and the whole world, and called for determination in defense of the Euro-Atlantic system of values.
Immediately after the panel discussion, President Đukanović handed over posthumously the Order of Montenegrin flag first degree to Senator McCain's wife Cindy McCain, who was awarded for a remarkable contribution to Montenegrin independence and the achievement of key foreign policy priorities of Montenegro, primarily NATO membership. President Đukanović recalled, among other things, the words of Senator McCain that the Montenegrin independence referendum was perhaps the most important democratic project in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also pointed to the senator's implicit understanding of the security and political challenges facing Montenegro and the Western Balkans.
"He encouraged us to be a bright example for the region and to continue to promote the ideals of Western civilization and transatlantic values," said Đukanović.
Receiving the Order, Mrs. McCain thanked the President for the fact that Montenegro cherished the memory of Senator McCain and pointed out that he was always a great friend and supporter of the Montenegrin people and Montenegro.
"Thank you for honoring his life, and for continuing the ideal he advocated for," said McCain.
At the margins of the Sedona Forum, President Đukanović had a series of informal meetings with senators, congressmen and other participants of the Forum.
04 May 2019 - President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović attended the opening of the "Sedona Forum" in the town of Sedona, at the invitation of Kurt Volker, executive director of the "McCain Institute for International Leadership" on his first day in Arizona.
The Forum was opened by the Executive Director, Volker, who recalled that this significant security-political event, organized for the seventh time, traditionally brings together political leaders, thinkers and business and academia representatives, with the aim of seeking answers to all the more serious modern challenges in the world.
He stressed that this year the responsibility of the participants is greater, as the forum for the first time will not hear thoughts from the man who inspired it, as Senator McCain passed away last year. At an official dinner for leaders, where President Đukanovic was among the most distinguished guests, participants paid respect to the deceased senator, while guests were welcomed by the governor of Arizona Doug Doucey and the rector of the State University of Arizona Dr. Michael Crow.
President Đukanović had an open and very contentful bilateral meeting with the executive director Kurt Volker, who conveyed the greetings of the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, as well as the support for Montenegro in addressing the challenges facing Montenegro on the road to achieving strategic goals.
The President informed Volker about current processes in Montenegro, the massive results achieved following the renewal of independence on the internal and international plan as well as projections for further economic and democratic development and progress in the negotiation process with the European Union.
The interlocutors also exchanged views on the current situation in the region and agreed on ways to tackle the remaining open issues, with the assessment that the presence and joint action of the European Union and the United States of America are crucial for this as well as for the European perspective of the region.
Otherwise, calls to the "Sedona Forum" are addressed to a limited and selected number of participants, and discussions on all issues are of a closed type and can not be cited and published.