02 December 2018 - On November 30, Montenegrin Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Pavle Radulović, announced that Montenegro would open Chapter 27 at an intergovernmental conference to be held in Brussels on December 10 this year.
"All EU members gave the green light to the negotiating position of the Government of Montenegro for Chapter 27, which has created the conditions for the Chapter to be opened on December 10," Radulović said at a press conference. He pointed out that this step represents a great success of the whole country, and highlighted his gratitude to his associates and diplomats.
"This is a very significant step for Montenegro, and I publicly congratulate and thank my associates. Also, I thank our diplomatic network as well as the diplomats of the countries of the European Union in Montenegro and the Government's negotiating structure. I particularly thank the EU Delegation in Podgorica. This is a big step forward in the negotiation process, and it is my pleasure to open Chapter 27 in the 27th year since Montenegro was declared an ecological state," said Radulović.
“We are working hard to comply with the EU acquis and attain European standards in the areas such as waste disposal, water management or better air quality because our goal is to ensure a healthy environment for the citizens and new generations,” Montenegro’s Chief EU Negotiator Aleksandar Drljevic stated on September 1st.
To achieve gradual and complete transposition of the entire EU acquis for Chapter 27-Environment and Climate Change into the legal system of Montenegro, the country adopted The National Strategy with Action Plan for transposition, implementation, and enforcement of the EU acquis on Environment and Climate Change (the Strategy with AP) 2016-2020.
Montenegro submitted its Draft on January 22nd, after which the Montenegrin Negotiating team representatives subsequently had a video conference with the European Commission’s representatives from the Directorate-general for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Directorate-general for the Environment and Directorate-general for Climate Change. During the Montenegrin Parliament’s public forum Montenegro and EU, Chapter 27: Environment and climate change, Radulovic said that the Draft was “generally praised” by the European Commission.
30 November 2018 - Prime Minister Duško Marković noted on the occasion of the second anniversary of the 41st Government of Montenegro that the Government started its mandate in an extremely challenging environment, in 2016 - the most challenging year for Montenegro in its recent history, but thanks to the dedicated work of the entire Government an excellent result has been achieved. Nowadays Montenegro is a large construction site, it is more stable than ever and it has started accelerated economic development and improvement of the living standards, he added.
"The entire 2016 was the most challenging year for Montenegro, primarily in political and security terms. We had also challenging years in previous decades, but in that year we had the most brutal, most direct attack on the State, its institutions, its political system. It was the year in which the political will of the citizens of Montenegro was threatened to be changed in an undemocratic way in order to halt its European and Euro-Atlantic perspective. I would say that the ultimate goal was the loss and the disappearance of Montenegro as a state. At that very moment, the Government took over the mandate. You recall that the dissatisfied opposition that organised the boycott was on the streets, encouraging social and other dissatisfaction. The Government faced a serious challenge to ensure not only political but also security stability of the country, to enable its functioning. That was the political environment in which we started the mandate," Prime Minister Duško Marković said.
PM Marković, however, assessed Montenegro's accession to NATO as the greatest success of his government, saying he considers it to be the greatest achievement since the referendum that restored the independence of the country.
"There is no greater success for Montenegro in the last decade or in the last 12 years - first independence, then NATO accession. I would say that we have two key benefits from this process. Today, Montenegro is more stable than ever, although our stability is characteristic of the country in a very turbulent Balkan environment. Montenegro has always had the capacity to preserve this internal stability. However, today, our stability is much greater and of higher quality, and it is not only internal but regional, European, and, I would say transatlantic. At the same time, thanks to this stability, Montenegro has gained an unprecedented position on the international scene. Although being small, Montenegro can be a pretentious, global player. It sits around the same table with the most powerful countries of the world, not only in economic and military, but also in political terms. As a result, we have become a planetary known and there is great interest in investing in Montenegro's tourism, energy and agriculture. And for this reason we have experienced this kind of economic growth. The key benefits of NATO are stability, our international position and using of our potential for accelerated economic growth and higher living standards of citizens of Montenegro," the Prime Minister underlined.
The Prime Minister emphasised the fact that the country's membership in NATO has spurred investments from all over the world.
As to European integration of Montenegro, the Prime Minister noted that the progress towards membership of the European Union goes in line with the dynamics that is realistic.
"We would like to be in the European Union tomorrow. But that is not realistic. We must earn this membership through the reforms that we have to implement in the country and which must be sustainable, the pace of which will not depend on elections or any political party. Our progress in these six years is impressive. Today, we have 31 chapters open, it is certain that in December we will open one of the most difficult chapters in the negotiation process, Chapter 27 - Environment, for which we have to allocate approx. one billion euros by 2035 in order to secure our living space to be sustainable and to beneficial to both development and quality of life of each individual. We have temporarily closed 3 chapters. At this point, we have already provided the internal readiness to close six chapters. We have even asked these days the European Commission to start drafting reports on the fulfillment of the provisional benchmarks in chapters 23 and 24, because we think that we have met these criteria and that we need to get the final benchmarks for these chapters so that in the years to come we can start more rapid closing of the chapters," said the Prime Minister.
When it comes to the situation in the region, the Prime Minister reiterated that there is no united and stable Europe without the Western Balkans. "But the Western Balkans needs to do much more than it has done to date," Prime Minister Marković concluded.
29 November 2018 - At the meeting of the Energy Community's Ministerial Council, which took place in Skopje on November 29, under the auspices of the Energy Community, a delegation of Montenegro was led by Minister of Economy Dragica Sekulić.
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev chaired the meeting of the Council. Macedonia gathered ministers of energy, environmental protection, and climate change, bearing in mind the importance of functioning of energy systems by renewable energy sources, as well as energy efficiency, to reduce emissions with the greenhouse effect.
The meeting presented the Annual Report on the Implementation of the 2018 Agreement, drafted by the Energy Community Secretariat. This year's report, as well as the last year's one, reads that Montenegro has achieved the best grade when it comes to meeting the obligations under the Agreement. It was noted that Montenegro is the only Contracting Party which has not had an open case to date in line with Articles 91 and 92 of the Treaty defining the initiation of proceedings against a member who does not respect the obligations provided for in the agreement.
About energy infrastructure, the PECI (Project of Energy Community Interest) list includes the project Trans Balkan Corridor - 400kV - Montenegro OHL Lastva - Pljevlja, while the PMI (Project of mutual interest) list consists of the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline (IAP).
Finally, the Council of Ministers made decisions on the transfer of the Regulation EU 2017/1369 concerning the energy efficiency labeling of products, as well as the Regulation 1227/2011 on the integrity of the energy market and transparency in the national legislation of the Contracting Parties.
28 November 2018 - Minister of Science of Montenegro Sanja Damjanović participates at the Ministerial Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Nuclear Science and Technology: "Response to Current and Future Development Challenges" in Vienna on 28 and 29 November 2018.
As part of the plenary session, the Minister of Science addressed the delegates of the Conference from the member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and presented the system of science and research in Montenegro with a focus on current ongoing and development projects implemented by the Ministry of Science, and in particular the regional project Initiative to establish the South East European International Institute for Sustainable Technologies (SEEIIST), whose 4th Steering Committee meeting was held on 27 November 2018 at the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna.
"Montenegro has significantly benefited from the fruitful cooperation with the IAEA. We approach this cooperation from the standpoint of ensuring safety and security and facilitating sustainable economic and environmental development for the benefit of our citizens. Close collaboration with the IAEA has an added value for Montenegro since it helps us to fulfill requirements stemming from the ongoing EU accession process. I will concentrate on the following only on matters of particular interest to Montenegro," said Damjanović.
The Minister particularly emphasised the cooperation of Montenegro with the International Atomic Energy Agency, both in the area of technical cooperation and implementation of projects in which valuable equipment is purchased.
"I would like to express my deep gratitude to the IAEA for having provided already its support for Capacity Building, and to the European Commission for providing first direct financial support to start the Design Study Phase of the project. I also owe great thanks to the international research institutions CERN and FAIR-GSI for their readiness to host the Working Groups associated with the Design Study Phase until the site of the project is selected. With this project, I have addressed you today also in my capacity as the Chairperson of the SEEIIST Intergovernmental Steering Committee," concluded Damjanović.
The International Atomic Energy Agency Ministerial Conference is a forum with over 1,000 registered participants. Addresses were delivered by the heads of delegations from 64 countries, including the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, the Republic of Austria, the Republic of France, Switzerland, Germany, and others. The conference was followed by panels, and the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration is also foreseen.
28 November 2018 - Montenegro sees European integration as an opportunity to secure the safety and quality of life of its citizens through an active contribution to a major project of peace and prosperity on the entire European continent, Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin said at a meeting with President of the National Council of Austria Wolfgang Sobotka in Podgorica on November 28.
The Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that an adequate evaluation of the reform results of Montenegro is an opportunity for both the European Union and the member states to affirm, on the example of Montenegro, the concrete effects of European policy in the Western Balkans.
In that regard, he thanked Sobotka on the continued political support of the top Austrian officials for Montenegro's EU bid, hopeful that during the Austrian presidency of the EU Council, negotiations in Chapter 27 on environmental protection will be opened.
He also said he is hopeful that the evident progress that Montenegro will achieve in the field of the rule of law will soon result in the obtaining of concrete conditions, the so-called benchmarks, to close the negotiations in chapters 23 and 24, as well as a more dynamic process of closing negotiations in other chapters.
President Sobotka congratulated Montenegro on its success in the process of European Integration, adding that Austria is interested in the entire region of the Western Balkans to start moving in the same way.
He said he is optimistic about negotiations in Chapter 27 to be opened during the Austrian presidency of the EU Council.
Emphasising the importance of economic cooperation with Montenegro, the Austrian official said that the value of Austrian investments per capita in Montenegro is higher than in other countries of the region.
27 November 2018 - According to preliminary data, total tourism revenue will exceed 1 billion euros, Prime Minister Duško Marković said in the Parliament of Montenegro, adding that Montenegro has been setting tourism records one after the other.
"This is how it looks regarding figures: During the first nine months, our tourism industry saw over 2 million (2,002,229) tourists visits, an increase of 9.5% compared to the same period last year. In the same period, there were 12 million (11,981,004) overnights, which is 7% more compared to the same period of 2017. This year alone, 25 new hotel facilities have been opened, of which more than a half are 4 or 5-star hotels. The empowered sector of the hotel industry has created more than 1,000 new jobs in 2018. This will be the first year in the history of modern Montenegrin tourism in which millions of tourists will stay in the Montenegrin hotels, which is already, according to the MONSTAT data, 100,000 more than in the same period last year. The extraordinary trends in our tourism are also indicated by data on capacity utilisation of the Montenegrin airports. Namely, until 15 November, Montenegro Airlines transported nearly 600,000 passengers, which is the best result in the history of this company. On the other hand, the Airports of Montenegro served 250,000 passengers more than in the same period last year," the Prime Minister underscored.
The Prime Minister added there are more demanding tourists from EU countries, with the most significant increase in visits from Great Britain and Germany
"This means that our tourism industry develops, acquires new knowledge and competencies and becomes competitive in the region and beyond. Furthermore, this year we have witnessed that the postseason lasted considerably longer than previous years, i.e., that it lasted practically until the beginning of November, which is just another step towards achieving our goal of Montenegro becoming a year-round tourist destination," said the Prime Minister.
Speaking about tourism, PM Marković also stressed that in the past two years of the Government's mandate, the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism had issued more than 60 building permits for 4 or 5-hotels.
"We are talking about investments of over EUR 400 million," the Prime Minister pointed out.
"I have to express my satisfaction with the dynamics of major projects in tourism: Porto Montenegro, Luštica Bay, Porto Novi, but also a series of smaller, equally high-quality initiatives, namely Iberostar hotels in Njivice and Perast, hotels Lazure in Meljine, as well as those in Ulcinj, such as the Karizma Hotels Group's projects on the Great Beach. However, the Government also invests in tourist capacities in the north of our country, and an investment in the large ski resort in Bjelasica continues. By the end of 2020, about EUR 70 million will be invested there. I expect that the "Kolašin 1600" sky centre will accept the first tourists in the coming days," Prime Minister Duško Marković noted. He concluded by saying that he is satisfied with the tourist season and the derived economic benefits, adding that he believes that we can do more and do better.
26 November 2018 - Deputy Prime Minister Rafet Husović hosted an inaugural visit by Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia to Montenegro Mihajlo Trpkovski. DPM Husović welcomed Ambassador Trpkovski and expressed readiness for cooperation to further improve the good relations between Montenegro and Macedonia.
Ambassador Trpkovski thanked him for a warm welcome and expressed his satisfaction that he is in a friendly and beautiful country. The Ambassador informed Deputy Prime Minister Husović of the current political situation in Macedonia and their commitment to start the process of Euro-Atlantic integration, in which Montenegro has already moved far.
The two officials agreed that there is room for additional cooperation between the two countries, especially in the field of tourism and agriculture.
Deputy Prime Minister also hosted a farewell visit by Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Montenegro Serhat Galip.
DPM Husović pointed to the excellent cooperation with Ambassador Galip and thanked him for his contribution to the deepening of great relations between the two countries. He particularly referred to the support of the Republic of Turkey when Montenegro joined NATO, which was of great importance to Montenegro.
Ambassador Galip thanked DPM Husović for good cooperation. He expressed the expectation that such cooperation will continue with the new Ambassador who will take office at the beginning of next year.
The meeting noted that Montenegro and Turkey foster excellent relations in all areas and that in the coming period intensification of economic cooperation is expected through the investments of Turkish companies, especially in the north of Montenegro.
23 November 2018 - The judgments of the European Court of Human Rights about Montenegro represent a real treasury of legal knowledge that guides us and illuminates the directions in which the Montenegrin legal system should be developed, Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin noted.
"All the European Court of Human Rights' judgments that found violations of some of human rights and freedoms are for the benefit of Montenegro because they help us recognise our weaknesses within our legal system and remove these weaknesses and develop our legal system for the benefit of our citizens," DPM Pažin emphasised.
In his keynote address at the conference sponsored by the Supreme Court of Montenegro and the London-based AIRE Centre on the enforcement of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to Montenegro, which took place in Podgorica on November 23rd, Deputy Prime Minister Pažin said that a broad social consensus on the need to accept and respect human rights and freedoms is a necessary condition for the European perspective of Montenegro.
He pointed out that the values of the Council of Europe, the oldest pan-European international organisation, such as genuine democracy, human rights and freedom and the rule of law, are an expression of the collective European identity of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe.
DPM Pažin said that the right of an individual to apply before the European Court for the protection of their human rights and freedoms, established by Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights, has introduced a revolutionary novelty into international relations and international law, since the citizen, the individual, for the first time became a subject of international law. "Not only is a citizen, an individual, a subject of international law, but they have become equal to the richest of the states, to the strongest of the governments."
He noted that, in this context, the Analysis of the Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights about Montenegro, developed by the Supreme Court of Montenegro and the Office of the Representatives of Montenegro before the European Court of Human Rights, is a precious document.
"I take the opportunity to thank and congratulate the authors on their devoted work in which they demonstrated not only a good knowledge of the practice of the European Court but also of the national law. We must not forget that only good knowledge of national law enables good grasping of international legal standards, not vice versa," the Deputy Prime Minister concluded.
22 November 2018 - Freedom of expression is not an absolute right but is limited by the rights and freedoms of others; therefore the safety of journalists must be complete, Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin emphasised at the opening of the conference on the freedom of the media and the protection of journalists in the Western Balkans in Podgorica.
Besides the safety of the journalists, which represents the principal responsibility of the state, there are three critical preconditions for the full freedom of the media, which are the responsibility of the media community, the Deputy Prime Minister noted.
The first condition is the level of professional competence of journalists and compliance with journalistic standards. In this context, DPM Pažin pointed out that a lack of effective media self-regulation is present in Montenegrin society to a considerable extent. He said that the media community could count on the full support of the Government in the establishment of unique self-regulation.
He added that the Government is willing to provide means and efforts to help the principle of unified, independent self-regulation. "I have learned that dialogue within the media community is ongoing and I want to believe that we will soon have encouraging messages within the media community and that this principle of unique independent self-regulation will come to life and give the results that Montenegrin society needs," the Deputy Prime Minister stressed.
The second important condition of media freedom is the independence of journalists within the media, i.e. the freedom of journalists to report in a professional manner without pressure from editors, managers and media owners. "The research data of the Trade Union of Media is really worrying. About 80% of the members of the journalistic profession point to the pressure they suffer from within the media, from the editors in the first place, about 80%, and then about 50% are pressed by the manager and then media owners. This, in some way, points to the lack of perception that has been present in society so far, that this pressure arises predominantly from politicians or government representatives. This research indicates that this is only a marginal phenomenon," DPM Pažin highlighted.
Speaking about the socioeconomic status of journalists, as the third significant condition for free journalism, he noted that it is worrying that about 800 Montenegrin journalists have personal income below the national average, while every third journalist earns less than EUR 400 a month. "The Government will support the establishment of the Media Fund in the new media law, in order to encourage the freedom of the media, in order for the media to have their place in society and be sustainable, but at the same time we expect the media to take into account the existential status of journalists and to raise it far higher than the current level."
The Deputy Prime Minister stressed that the safety of journalists is the dominant responsibility of the state. "If freedom of expression is not an absolute right, the safety of journalists must be absolute. And that's uncompromising."
He recalled that four cases of violence against journalists were registered this year. In three of these four cases, perpetrators were identified and proceedings were initiated. "The most painful one, the attack on Ms. Olivera Lakić has not been fully investigated yet and it still arouses justifiable concern within the whole society. The success and the result of this investigation will be a criterion in assessing the outcome of the people who are responsible for solving these cases, and on the other hand it is also a test of trust that a society should have in these institutions."
The Deputy Prime Minister recalled that the Government had accepted all recommendations of the Commission for monitoring the investigation of attacks on journalists and media assets, adding that the Government fully supports the work of this Commission.