September 13, 2020 - The parliament to be constituted after the elections on August 30 will be dynamic with a strong influence on the decision-making and the work of the executive power, believes the Director of the Center for Civil Liberties, Boris Marić.
He told MINA agency that the agreement, signed by the leaders of the three coalitions that won the majority of votes in the recent parliamentary elections, is a sign that Montenegro is maturing politically.
"The agreement is the result of a political compromise, which, on the one hand, tells us that Montenegrin society could be moving towards a greater degree of political rigour. On the other, we should be careful in concluding that every political compromise usually encounters various levels of resistance," Maric said.
According to him, it is necessary to wait to implement the agreement to see how the Montenegrin political system and institutions will function.
"In any case, we can expect a very dynamic parliament with a strong influence on decision-making and the character of decisions and work of the executive branch," Maric said.
He said that the new government could be expected to be formed relatively soon.
Of course, as he stated, it is not a simple process, and it will not be a surprise that the list holders encounter problems.
"But the public's expectation that a new government will be formed is dominant, and I believe that any attempt to interfere, with specific interests or obstruction, will be overcome," Maric said.
He pointed out that the new government's expectations are the strengthening of institutions, especially those involved in fighting corruption, a package of economic and social measures, full transparency of work and public finances, and a focus on inclusion in Montenegrin society.
Speaking about the relations between Serbia and Montenegro, Maric said that the relations between the authorities of those two countries followed the "warm-cold system."
"These move from the very best, as they defined them at one point, to a covert or even open conflict, primarily over the Law on Freedom of Religion and the identity policy derived from it," said Maric.
He believes that the aggravation of relations between Serbia and Montenegro has consequently spilled over into Montenegro's electoral process.
"We have indeed seen the influence of either the official Serbian position or the media from Serbia on the election result in Montenegro. It resulted in the homogenization of the pro-Serbian electorate, "Maric said.
He added that it remains to be seen whether this was a temporary strategy for the protection of Serbian interests in Montenegro or a long-term strategy based on identity policies for future processes.
Maric said that what lies ahead is a critical period for Montenegro. And that relations in the region must be built with full respect for sovereignty and building good neighborly relations.
"With the first announcements, the winners of the elections affirm democratic principles and guarantee full state sovereignty, which they will have to prove to part of the Montenegrin public," Maric believes.
Speaking about the possible participation of minority parties in the new government, Maric said that these parties have a place in the government because there they will be able to articulate their needs to the extent necessary.
He believes that no matter how the minority parties' representatives decide, that should be respected, and the door of the executive power should be left open.
Maric stated that the issue of regional relations has a special significance, and it will take a period of time for the new Montenegrin government to prove its commitment to good neighborly relations.
"Concerning the guidelines expressed by the signed platform and, of course, with their implementation, we can hope for good development of relations with neighbors," concluded Marić.
September 12, 2020 - "Corruption and the perception of corruption are significant problems in the Montenegrin public and private sector. Citizens' concerns about corruption are usually significant in opinion polls, and corruption is also cited as a risk by foreign investors. Despite legal improvements, corruption remains a major problem in the Montenegrin economy, according to the annual State Department reports designed to help US companies make business decisions.
"Corruption and the perception of corruption are significant problems in the Montenegrin public and private sector. The level of citizens' concern about corruption is usually high in public opinion polls, and foreign investors also cite corruption as a risk, "the part of the report dedicated to the prevention of corruption points out, RFE reports.
It is highlighted that since gaining independence in 2006, Montenegro has adopted a legal framework that encourages privatization, employment, and exports.
"The implementation of the framework, however, lags far behind the legislation," the report says, noting that Montenegro is still in the process of establishing a liberal business climate that encourages foreign investment and local production.
"The country remains dependent on imports from neighboring countries, despite significant potential in some areas of agriculture and food production," the report states.
It adds that, although the political transition has not yet eliminated all structural barriers, the government generally recognizes the need to remove obstacles in order to reform the business environment and attract foreign investment.
The ratio of public debt and gross domestic product in Montenegro is one of the largest in the region - notes the State Department.
"Public debt is currently at 76.9 percent of GDP, with the forecast that it will increase to over 80 percent after the repayment of the loan to the Chinese Exim Bank, for the construction of a billion-dollar highway," it is noted.
As government priorities, the State Department singles out infrastructure development, "including another highway section that will better connect the developed southern part of the country with the underdeveloped north."
It is noted that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are assisting the government in implementing debt control measures.
"The economic growth rate in 2019 was one of the highest in Europe at 3.5 percent, while the unemployment rate rose slightly from 15.2 to 15.3 percent. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a significant economic impact on the Montenegrin economy in 2020," the report highlights.
There is a reminder of the IMF forecast from April this year, according to which Montenegro will face a nine percent decline in the economy.
The economic downturn is said to stem from the Montenegrin economy's heavy dependence on tourism.
The tourism sector accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product (GDP).
As a candidate country on its path to joining the European Union (EU), Montenegro has opened 32 of 33 negotiation chapters. Three have been temporarily closed, the State Department says, noting that the Montenegrin government hopes to open the last chapter on competition in 2020.
It is added that Montenegro has been a member of NATO since 2017.
"On January 1, 2019, Montenegro began implementing its economic citizenship program. The program will last for three years and will be available for up to 2,000 applicants," the State Department's report highlights.
The Montenegrin economy is focused on three sectors, with the government mainly focusing its efforts on developing tourism, energy, and agriculture.
"Due to its 300-kilometer-long coastline and spectacular mountain region in the north of the country, a successful tourism sector accounts for almost 25 percent of GDP."
No country dominates foreign direct investment, the most significant being investments from Italy, Hungary, Russia, and Serbia. At the same time, the State Department notes that new interest in investing comes from the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, China, Turkey, and the United States.
Projects in the energy sector include a submarine cable to Italy for electricity transmission and the Montenegrin government's intention to consider importing US liquefied natural gas through the port at Bar.
"Also, there are several ongoing conventional energy projects across the country, including the controversial environmental reconstruction of the existing block of coal-fired thermal power plants in Pljevlja and a series of projects to build small hydropower plants," the report said.
Mention is also made of the concession agreements for offshore oil and gas exploration, which the Government of Montenegro signed with two consortia - the Italian-Russian consortium Eni / Novatek and the Greek-British consortium Energean Oil / Mediterranean Oil and Gas.
September 9, 2020 - The leaders of the three opposition coalitions, which won a majority in the August 30th parliamentary elections, presented today the Agreement on the principles on which the future government will rest, including cooperation with NATO, unquestionable recognition of Kosovo, and excluding changes to Montenegrin state symbols.
September 1, 2020 - After the people decided in Sunday's elections that Milo Djukanovic's DPS should go into opposition, the first phase of the transition towards a government change is underway in Montenegro, marked by images that are not new when it comes to Montenegrin society, which has long been ruled by divisions on various grounds. It seems that now the people have united to remove the DPS, which has ruled the country for 30 years. Despite calls from political leaders to refrain from celebrations and provocations on any grounds and celebrate the election success with family and friends, some people have shown readiness to continue to emphasize their differences in the streets.
The outgoing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), which rulled the country since 1991, links the electoral defeat to the Serbian Orthodox Church's influence and the Republic of Serbia, expressing fears that Montenegro could change its foreign policy course under the new government. At the same time, representatives of the three winning coalitions say their basic common principles are the rule of law, expert government, and continuing the EU accession process.
The winning coalitions that will form the new government have begun talks, informing citizens of the basic principles on which the future state administration will rest.
On the other hand, Montenegrin President and DPS leader Milo Djukanovic conceded defeat in the election. Still, he placed Montenegrin citizens' electoral will in a foreign policy context, implying a possible turn from the West to Russia.
Celebration after the victory of the opposition in the elections, Photo: Savo Prelević, Radio Free Europe
Rallies were organized in several cities last night to celebrate the election victory, which in places escalated into riots and clashes. While the outgoing government characterized those incidents as the expressions of Serbian nationalism, the new parliamentary majority called on their supporters to postpone the celebrations and stay in their homes, refraining from any outbursts. As they said, possible incidents help only the DPS in its intention to provoke street clashes that would delay its departure from power.
Today, on its official pages on social networks, the DPS invited its supporters to a rally planned September 6 on Independence Square in Podgorica under the slogan "Montenegro first of all". Later it was announced that the DPS distanced itself from the organization of the gathering, saying that the meeting was organized by so-called "patriotic organizations".
Printscreen Youtube, Source: Vijesti
According to preliminary data from the State Election Commission (SEC), based on 100 percent of votes counted, the current opposition, defined through three electoral coalitions, will have 41 seats in the Parliament of Montenegro. On the other hand, the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) with its traditional partners will have 40 seats. Representatives of the three winning electoral lists also called on representatives of minority nations to join the new parliamentary majority.
According to the State Election Commission data, the DPS won 35.06 percent, i.e., 143,548 votes, in Sunday's elections, and the coalition "For the Future of Montenegro" 32.55 percent (133,267). "Peace is our nation" won 12.53 percent (51,297), and "Black On White" 5.53% (22,649).
The Social Democrats won 4.10 percent (16,769), the Bosniak Party 3.98 percent (16,286), the SDP - Strong Montenegro 3.14 percent (12,839), the Albanian List 1.58 percent (6,488), and the Albanian Coalition Unanimously 1,14 percent (4,675)", as published on the SEC website.
The Croatian Civic Initiative did not pass the census, winning 0.27 (1,115), and the Croatian Reform Party 0.13 percent, or 532 votes, leaving the Croatian people in Montenegro without their representative in the new assembly.
76.65 percent of registered voters voted in the elections, i.e., 413,954, of which 409,451 were valid ballots.
Yesterday, a meeting was held between the leaders of the winning coalitions, "For the future of Montenegro," "Peace is our nation," and "Black On White" - Zdravko Krivokapic, Aleksa Becic, and Dritan Abazovic. They will constitute the future Montenegrin government and deliver the electoral will of the citizens.
The three leaders are extending their hands to representatives of minorities with the desire to together build a more beautiful and prosperous future of Montenegro, came the announcement after the meeting of the new parliamentary majority's leaders.
"Due to verified information that a significant number of paid provocateurs are trying to provoke incidents and unpleasant events, both in Podgorica and in other cities in Montenegro, we invite citizens to return to their homes and continue celebrating there. We must not allow any excuse for the outgoing regime to refute the undeniable results of the elections and the people's will," said the leader of the coalition For the Future of Montenegro, Zdravko Krivokapic.
Krivokapić said that peace has no price and that no one should be afraid that Montenegro will disappear. On his official Facebook page, he again asked people not to take to the streets, and announced that he would form a government in three weeks.
On the occasion of last night's events in several Montenegrin cities, the Black on White coalition leader, Dritan Abazovic, also reacted. "Every kind of violence or provocation from any side casts a shadow over the election victory in which corruption and organized crime are defeated. That is why I ask you to refrain from that and celebrate in your homes in a dignified way," Abazovic said.
"As never before, it is necessary to preserve peace, interethnic, and interreligious harmony. Please do not allow us to jeopardize the historical victory through our irresponsibility or that of planted individuals. Montenegro is the land of us all, so let's protect each other. Civic Montenegro has no alternative! Now we need wisdom; there will be time to celebrate,"- concluded Abazović, emphasizing that there are no compromises with Montenegro's national interests. "Montenegro will not become either Serbian Sparta or Greater Albania," he said.
He said that Montenegro will develop as a civil state and that the condition of the platform around which the Black On White coalition has gathered is an expert government.
"Black on White" Coalition Leader, Dr. Dritan Abazović, Source: Civic Movement URA
"The announcement of the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, which has so far arrested children, the elderly and priests for allegedly violating the NKT measures, to organize a rally on September 6, is a transparent attempt to raise tensions and cause riots that only benefit them as the outgoing government. They are trying to deepen the divisions, hatred, and quarrels they have generated in the last 30 years, said the representative of the coalition "Peace is our nation" and the leader of the Democrats, Aleksa Becic.
"Gentlemen from the top of the DPS, the NKT you lead has banned public gatherings. But, since you are known as people who trample on Montenegro, its laws and its Constitution for personal interests, and now for personal frustrations, we must remind you that the votes have been counted. The election results are official, and that there is no need for a new count at any party rallies. Show that you have at least a shred of dignity towards the honorable people who voted for you and accept you scored well below the previous opposition's election result," stated Bečić.
He called on the Police Directorate to ban mass gatherings directed by the DPS and required by any party, "so that we can immediately start working on reconciliation of all. In Montenegro, there must be no winners or losers among the citizens. Corruption, crime, quarrels, and the mafia are defeated in Montenegro, not the voters."
People in Montenegro want peace; they want harmony, unity, and progress, said Aleksa Bečić.
"Peace is Our Nation" Coalition Leader, Aleksa Becic, Source: mondo.me
The President of Montenegro and the DPS, Milo Đukanović, said for "Newsmax Adria" that in Montenegro and the region, two approaches were opposed - a pro-Western course on the one hand and a backward nationalist one on the other, now awakened in Montenegro.
"The incidents did not surprise anyone, the celebration even less. There is always a reason to celebrate, but that celebration implies a civilized attitude towards other citizens and the need to preserve Montenegro's stability. Last night we witnessed an outburst of intolerance, aggression, primitivism who think differently, "Djukanovic said.
When it comes to forming a government, Djukanovic said, "we will soon expect the outcome and that we will receive an offer to form a government from those who will have 41 seats in parliament."
Djukanovic sees the reasons for his party's failure to retain power partly in the dissatisfaction of citizens with some policies and the manipulations of the church and official Belgrade over the Law on Freedom of Religion.
"President Vučić and the current policy of Serbia have shown very problematic intentions. The first is that they want to interfere in another state's internal political life, and the second is to try to revitalize the policy of Greater Serbian nationalism in the region. Both are very wrong and very destructive," said Djukanovic.
He said that the assumptions that the DPS would defend the government by all means, were not correct.
"Even today, the DPS is a force that will try to keep Montenegro on the European path. I believe that in the bloc for Europe that will be formed in the parliament, we will stand for our government's political heritage," said Djukanovic.
He said that Montenegro has a European future and that he hopes that Montenegro will reach it.
DPS Leader, Milo Đukanović, President of Montenegro, Photo by Savo Prelević, Vijesti
"On August 30, Montenegro held parliamentary elections and local elections in five municipalities, according to an electoral, legislative framework that is mostly unchanged from previous elections, in the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The elections were peaceful and competitive, with a high turnout, monitored by local and international observers accredited by the State Election Commission, European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelj, and EU High Representative Josep Borel said in a statement by the EU delegation to Montenegro.
Preliminary findings and conclusions from international observers from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly emphasize that the elections were conducted transparently and efficiently. They also note the highly polarized debate on church and national identity issues and some concerns for the ruling party's inappropriate advantage and unbalanced media coverage.
Following the publication of the final OSCE / ODIHR report and recommendations, all political actors and relevant institutions should engage in a transparent, determined, and inclusive dialogue on implementing these recommendations to overcome long-standing electoral shortcomings well before the next elections.
"We now expect the Constitution of a new parliament and the formation of a new government that will continue Montenegro's stable path towards the EU. Montenegro has made significant progress in its EU accession process. The months ahead must be used to deepen and accelerate political and economic reforms, especially the rule of law, with the next key milestone being meeting the provisional criteria for Chapters 23 and 24 in the rule of law," Varhelji said.
The European Union is fully committed to providing further support to Montenegro in the EU integration process and economic recovery after the crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus, including through the forthcoming Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.
"Freedom of assembly, association and expression are fundamental rights of the European Union (EU), which should be exercised without disturbing public health and with full respect for the rule of law and public order and peace," the European Commission (EC) said, commenting on the announced gathering "Montenegro First of All."
"We are closely following the political developments towards the announcement of the final results of the elections held on August 30 in Montenegro. In that context, we expect the Constitution of a new parliament and the formation of a new government that will continue Montenegro's stable path to the EU." A European Commission spokeswoman Ana Pisonero Hernandez told Vijesti, answering questions regarding the DPS' invitation to gather on Sunday, in high health and safety risk conditions.
In Podgorica today, the US Embassy welcomed the conclusions of the OSCE / ODIHR International Election Observation Mission on the parliamentary elections in Montenegro.
"We congratulate Montenegro's citizens on holding peaceful, participatory elections with the participation of more than 76% of the electorate, despite the COVID-19 pandemic," reads the message published on the FB page of the US Embassy.
The US Ambassador to Montenegro warned that all parties must act peacefully and avoid violence in the post-election days.
"I am concerned about reports of violence in Montenegro," said HPP Judy Rising Reinke.
"Montenegro is recognized for its tolerance and inclusiveness. The calm we saw on election day should prevail. All sides must act peacefully and avoid violence. Dialogue and the protection of minorities are the keys to democracy," Rising Reinke said on Twitter.
Meeting between Krivokapić, Bečić and Abazović: "These are the four principles of the future Government"
In addition, they stated that they extend their hand to representatives of minorities with a desire to together build a more beautiful and prosperous future for Montenegro.
August 31, 2020 - A meeting was held today between coalition leaders Zdravko Krivokapić, Aleksa Bečić i Dritan Abazović, representing "For the Future of Montenegro", "Peace is Our Nation" and "Black and White", which will constitute the future Government of Montenegro and deliver the electoral will of citizens.
According to the three leaders, they very quickly agreed on several principles which will serve as the basis for the future government.
"The first principle that has been agreed is that the new democratic government will responsibly implement all international obligations. Second, that the new democratic government will implement all necessary reforms in order for Montenegro to join the European Union as soon as possible. Third, that the new democratic government be highly skilled, constituted of experts in specific fields, regardless of their political, religious, national or any other characteristics. Fourth, the new government will be fully committed to respecting the Constitution and law enforcement, with amendments, supplements and revision of all discriminatory laws and bylaws, including the Law on Freedom of Religion," the statement said.
They said that, in addition, they extend their hand to representatives of minorities with a desire to together build a more beautiful and prosperous future for Montenegro.