22 November 2018 - The OSCE Mission to Montenegro, in partnership with the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and the Department for Gender Equality, delivered three two-day workshops during October and November 2018 to gender equality focal points from 12 Montenegrin municipalities on how to train their colleagues on understanding gender equality and gender mainstreaming.
The workshops, held in Podgorica on 24-26 October, 1-2 November and 13-14 November 2018, provided participants with an opportunity to learn how to plan and deliver training courses and organize awareness-raising events within their respective municipalities. Through an interactive approach, the experts strengthened the participants’ knowledge of gender mainstreaming, explained the legal framework about gender equality, and presented training techniques and skills.
The OSCE Mission, in cooperation with the Parliamentary Committee for Gender Equality in Montenegro, held the training courses on gender mainstreaming to ensure that gender equality is a core component in legislative drafting. Members of Parliament and parliamentary committee staff discussed how to analyse legislation from a gender perspective, strategize to mainstream gender in state institutions and develop gender equality policy consistent with international standards.
“We want to support the parliament in its efforts to translate its legislative commitments into good practices, to become more and more a gender-sensitive parliament,” says Ana Krušić, Senior Programme Assistant at the OSCE Mission to Montenegro. The OSCE Mission to Montenegro has been working in partnership with the parliament for many years on projects which, in addition to the promotion of gender mainstreaming, have included capacity building of committees, working with administrative staff and supporting exchanges of regional experiences. Gender expert Karolina Leaković, who led the training course, said: “Cooperation with the parliament and its service is important because the parliament is at the centre of the legislative process and has an important role in developing gender-sensitive legislation and promoting principles of gender equality.”
The training course is a part of the education on gender equality and gender mainstreaming envisaged by the Action Plan for a Gender Sensitive Parliament, which was developed and adopted by the Committee with the support of the Mission and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The first course was organized in April this year.
Read more about OSCE mission here.
20 November 2018 - Prime Minister Duško Marković hosted an inaugural visit by the newly appointed Ambassador of Saudi Arabia Abdul Momin bin Mohammed Sharaf. At this meeting, the two officials concluded that Montenegro and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will strengthen bilateral relations that will be further built by enhanced economic cooperation.
Ambassador Sharaf said that Saudi Arabia has a clear economic vision by 2030, focusing on trade and investment. He added that he hopes to build a partnership with Montenegro, as well as with other Western Balkan countries.
Prime Minister Marković said that Montenegro has created important preconditions for the future and a better life of citizens and that it showed its seriousness and credibility in the past year and a half as a full-fledged member of NATO, as well as during six years of negotiations with the European Union.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Montenegro has a lot of development potential in tourism, energy, as well as in agriculture and food production. Prime Minister Marković emphasized that Montenegro is a safe and secure country with incentive tax policy. He added that the Montenegrin economy recorded significant economic growth in the last two years.
Both sides agreed that it would be a good idea to organise a presentation of potentials for businessmen and investors from Saudi Arabia, and the Ambassador expressed particular interest in the field of agriculture.
20 November 2018 - Prime Minister Duško Marković expressed satisfaction with the results that the Government has achieved in the first half of its mandate, adding that the Government will continue this way in the upcoming period.
At the meeting of the Foreign Investors Council in Podgorica, the Prime Minister emphasised that all of Montenegro picked up the momentum that leads to prosperity and the future. Public finances are stabilized, we have macroeconomic stability, and investment activity has increased. The achieved economic growth rates of 4.8% in the first half of the year are among the highest in the region and in Europe – the Prime Minister said.
Recalling the unfavourable conditions in which the 41st Government of Montenegro began its mandate – the high budget deficit and public debt, unfavourable regional and wider environment – the Prime Minister said that the success was not likely to happen.
He said that when he took over as the Prime Minister, there were more reasons to believe we won’t succeed to overcome problems, but we managed. We provided a positive trend, we took the opportunity given to us and responded seriously to all the challenges.
Prime Minister Marković referred to progress in the field of European integrations and added that in December we will have a total of 32 open chapters because we have received information that Chapter 27 on environmental protection will be opened in December. He also pointed out the fact that as a NATO member we have shown that we are able to fulfill the Alliance's obligations.
Montenegro, PM Marković noted, is an exporter of overall stability.
The Prime Minister said that the Government's policies resulted in high economic growth, adding that the growth estimates for 2018 cannot be below 4.1%.
PM Marković emphasised that foreign direct investments, which increased in the first nine months of this year by 48% compared to the same period last year, and the creation of new jobs also represent a successful result.
"These achievements of the Government's work have resulted in the creation of 9,000 jobs. Until recently, we couldn't speak about the creation of new jobs at all, not to mention this number of new jobs. This is a fantastic result. This is a decrease in the unemployment rate of 4% according to the Employment Agency of Montenegro, which is not very reliable because it contains data that do not give a real picture, and a decrease of 4.6% in the unemployment rate according to the survey. Now, unemployment is at the level of 14.4%, and in December 2017, it was over 21%, according to both records," Prime Minister Marković noted.
The Prime Minister said that the Government will continue to work in the same way in the following period: "I want to continue with such results," PM Marković said, adding that the next year's budget will be developmental.
The Prime Minister said that the Government would persevere in order to adopt the Law on Fiscalization in the trade of goods and services, but it will consider all the objections coming from stakeholders. He thanked for understanding and support expressed by the Foreign Investors Council towards this legal solution. He added that he expects the law to become effective next year, while its full implementation is foreseen for 2021.
Commenting on the country's decline in the Doing Business list, PM Marković said that in the previous period we had adopted laws that should improve the business, facilitate business and eliminate barriers. However, he said that the problem is likely in the implementation of the law and that it must be solved.
In that context, the Law on Spatial Planning and Building Construction has been mentioned, whose effects are still being examined.
"I still do not see what I expected and I was told that we will get a new law. They warn me that wild construction is growing, that we have few inspections, that the plans are being adopted slower than before," the Prime Minister concluded.
19 November 2018 - On the sidelines of the conference "European Values, Rule of Law and Security", which took place in Vienna on November 19, Interior Minister of Montenegro Mevludin Nuhodžić met with his Austrian counterpart Herbert Kickl.
Minister Kickl praised the results Montenegro has achieved in the negotiation process with the European Union, especially regarding chapters 23 and 24.
"Montenegro is EU's extremely important strategic partner in the field of security. Montenegro's place, as well as of the region as a whole, is in the EU," stressed Minister Kickl. He added that Austria will continue to strongly support Montenegro's EU bid by providing concrete assistance to capacity building and harmonisation with European standards in the fields of justice, freedom and security.
Minister Nuhodžić thanked the Government of Austria for the continued efforts to keep the European perspective of the Western Balkans high on the agenda of the EU, and in particular for supporting Montenegro.
It was noted that there is room for further improvement of bilateral police cooperation in combating organised crime and terrorism.
"The situation on the continent is unique in recent history when it comes to security challenges: we all face the same or almost the same threats. Only their intensity varies Therefore, we need to use this fact in a way to cooperate even more intensively and, without exception, to implement what we have agreed as quickly as possible, with the highest quality and commitment. Only then can we be effective. There must be nothing of greater priority than what directly affects the security of our countries and our citizens," said Minister Nuhodžić, but also noted that global security challenges countries worldwide face every day request world's unity in tackling them.
"We need to act together in order to stop trafficking in human beings, drugs or weapons, or potential terrorists. The answer to these challenges can only be in the cooperation between the states. Challenges are such that if only one link fails - it then becomes the problem of not only one country, but much broader. First of all, Montenegro is a responsible state, consistent in meeting all undertaken obligations. By doing that not only do we protect ourselves but others as well," the Interior Minister of Montenegro concluded.
19 November 2018 - Minister of Foreign Affairs, Srđan Darmanović, said again that Montenegro would vote for membership of Kosovo in Interpol. He also said that the relations with Serbia have become more stable ever since Montenegro regained its independence.
Darmanović said clearly that Montenegro cannot influence the agreement Kosovo and Serbia reach regarding the exchange of territories.
“We wish all the best to both of our neighbors. We have always supported their dialogue, but Montenegro cannot be the promoter of the solution. Montenegro does not want crisis and tensions in the region,” said Darmanović.
He pointed out that relations with Serbia are good regardless of some political disagreements that have always been there.
Darmanović also commented on the Nikola Gruevski passing through Montenegro and said he didn’t see anything wrong with that.
“At that time, Gruevski was not at the Interpol’s list of Wanted Persons and Macedonia never gave any signals that he was a person out of the law,” says Darmanović.
He also thinks that tense relations between Montenegro and Russia are passed.
“It would be nice if Russia could understand that their policy in the Balkans has finished in Montenegro. It is NATO member now and the issue is resolved,” said Darmanović.
Text by CdM, on November 19, 2018, read more at CdM.
19 November 2018 - On 19 November 2018, the 15th Jubilee Vienna Economic Forum – Vienna Future Dialogue 2018 under the motto "Economy meets Politics" took place under the Patronage of H.E. Mr. Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria, and an official event of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković spoke during the panel in Vienna, explaining that Montenegro has ambitious plans during Austrian presidency of the Council of the European Union, and these ambitions are based on assessments from the latest EC document.
"As you are aware, Montenegro has the ambition to make progress during the Austrian presidency. We base our optimism on the assessment from the latest EC's document on the rule of law that shows a balanced and thus realistic image of the efforts that Montenegro continuously invests in the implementation of reforms within the negotiation process. I am convinced that Austria and the countries of the European Union will objectively assess our results," Prime Minister Marković said at the Vienna Economic Forum. He also took part in meetings with the Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and EU commissioners Johannes Hahn and Mariya Gabriel.
The Prime Minister thanked Chancellor Kurz and the EU commissioners for the positive and inspiring meetings. He was pleased that he discussed the continuation of important discussions for the region with Commissioner Hahn and Commissioner Gabriel. It was important for Montenegrin representatives to hear Austria's plans during its presidency, but also to present the country’s plans and ambitions.
The host, Federal Chancellor Kurz, told at the press conference that Austria, during its presidency of the Council of the European Union, will focus on three areas: the region's path towards the European Union, the necessary regional cooperation and the resolution of bilateral disputes in the region. Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn emphasised that all Western Balkan countries have a European perspective, although it is not realistic that they all join the Union at the same time.
Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel told Western Balkan leaders that they can count on the EU support and that the EC will continue to invest in talented people in the region. "Digital agenda for the Western Balkans is our objective. It is up to us to continue this process," Commissioner Gabriel noted during the economic forum in Vienna.
The prime ministers of the six Western Balkan countries assessed as particularly important the fact that Austria insists on the enlargement agenda.
Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić thanked the host, Chancellor Kurz, for working on the more integrated region and keeping the EU's policy of enlargement on the European agenda. "Serbia is strongly committed to the EU agenda. On the regional level, the connectivity agenda is a priority for Serbia," Prime Minister Brnabić said.
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Denis Zvizdić said that strengthening of the cooperation with the EU contributes to the further development of the Western Balkans. He especially emphasised the importance of the fact that the EU's door remains open.
Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama said that the region is facing challenges of the cooperation, while Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj said that his country has fulfilled all conditions for visa liberalization, including the last condition – border demarcation with Montenegro.
18 November 2018 - Montenegro must not slow down its progress on its road to the European Union and it should be focused primarily on closing the chapters. It would be desirable to open Chapter 27 during Austria’s European Union presidency and for the country to complete the Action Plan for Chapters 23 and 24, as noted by the Ambassador of Slovenia to Montenegro, Mitja Močnik. He also said Montenegro has been an example of good practice to other countries of Balkans region.
Slovenia and Montenegro cherish good relations and based on the positive experience and practice in project implementation, Slovenia perceives Montenegro as a priority programme for European Union integration in the region.
“The two states have been implementing a programme-based bilateral development cooperation, mostly for a two-year period of time. The 2018-19 programme is going to be signed on November 23, 2018. The total value of the project amounts to 1,848,949 EUR. Development projects usually refer to the less developed North Montenegro. Slovenia has been offering assistance to Montenegro for this year as well, also through a technical assistance, funded by the European Union’s instrument for pre-accession assistance. Our experts are mostly engaged in Montenegro when compared with other countries of the region,” noted Ambassador of Slovenia to Montenegro Mitja Močnik.
According to him, Montenegro should focus on closing the negotiation chapters, but also added that Montenegro represents a source of stability in the region.
“Some European Union member states are not inclined to speedy opening/closing of the chapters, which does not mean they oppose the enlargement process. Montenegro is a leader in negotiation talks, having in mind dynamics and the number of opened chapters. We must beware of the fact Montenegro restored the independence in 2006 and that it is extremely significant to achieve genuine progress in strengthening macroeconomic, fiscal and tax stability,” Močnik concluded.
17 November 2018 - At the annual meeting of the ministers of agriculture of South-Eastern Europe held in Macedonia, deputy prime minister and minister of agriculture and rural development in the Government of Montenegro, Milutin Simović, said that the stability in the Balkans represents a fundamental principle for any further progress of the Balkan countries.
According to him, the Balkans should be perceived not as a problem or a hurdle, but as a chance and as a new energy, especially when it comes to connecting, freedom of movement and goods, capital and people, energy, agriculture, human resources, new transport routes, and logistics centers. The Balkan countries need to use their joint forces and prove they can be the heartbeat of the European Union.
"We must act decisively on our road to the European and Euro-Atlantic integrations, as well as in meeting the requirements. There is no way back, we must succeed. We have achieved and invested a lot, but we need to be even more resolute and courageous because soon we are to face some key challenges,” noted Deputy Prime Minister Milutin Simović.
Speaking about agriculture as a complex sector vulnerable to instability, Minister Simović said that it is necessary to work together towards raising competitiveness in this area, aligning agricultural policies with common European agricultural policy and strengthening capacities for withdrawing generous European pre-accession funds. He also called for a genuine commitment to the implementation of the CEFTA free trade agreement.
The meeting in Macedonia was organized by the Permanent Working Group for Regional Rural Development in Southeast Europe, and hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Macedonia.
On the sidelines of the ministerial meeting, an agreement on cooperation in the field of agriculture and rural development between Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina will be signed.
17 November 2018 - The European perspective of the Western Balkans now is much better than it used to be, said the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz. Kurz also emphasized that Montenegro’s frontrunner status in the EU accession process has been unquestionable and if “it keeps progressing so fast”, 2025 might be a feasible accession date.
“From the beginning of this year, we have intensified our cooperation with the region. The EU-Western Balkans Summit held in Sofia, conclusions of the Council for enlargement of July as well as the London Berlin Process Summit in July sent a clear political message – the EU has been the commitment towards the enlargement. I am deeply convinced that the EU can not be complete unless the Western Balkan countries join it,” concluded Kurz, expressing the importance of Montenegro as a frontrunner in the Western Balkans region.
As for the possible delays of the EU enlargement, Kurz pointed out that it is very important for the countries of the region to focus on required reforms and good neighborly relations, that need to be further upgraded.
During the Europe-Forum Wachau which took place in June this year, Chancellor Kurz concluded that Austria will support integration plans of Montenegro, keeping in mind that the Western Balkans are among the priorities of the Austrian presidency. He also added that the Austrian government is encouraging Montenegro to open two new chapters during the following period because they think that such a step is well deserved.
Read more about Montenegro's involvement in Europe-Forum Wachau here.
16 November 2018 - Prime Minister Duško Marković met with the delegation of the municipality of Pljevlja led by the President of the Municipality Mirko Đačić. At the meeting, it was noted that successful consolidation of public finances and establishment of financial stability in Pljevlja enables the Government of Montenegro and the local leadership to devote more to strengthening the road and energy infrastructure in the municipality.
The Prime Minister congratulated the upcoming Municipal Day to citizens and local leadership and expressed satisfaction with the results achieved in Pljevlja. He pointed out that additional efforts in the area of public finances have to be made, and he announced new support which can be expected through the new Law on Financing of Local Self-government.
Đačić praised the stable work of the economy in the municipality. He mentioned projects in the field of road infrastructure that will ensure a better life for citizens of Pljevlja and added that soon they can expect the wastewater treatment plant to be put into trial work.
Expressing personal interest in the city's toplification, Prime Minister Marković emphasized that problems are solved and that the project would go in the right direction. Đačić informed that contracted works for the first phase amounted to 3.56 million euros, while four million are needed for the second phase of toplification.
Special attention was given to the sector of energy and wood processing through new development chains that will give a new impetus to the economy, where they see a good chance for small and medium enterprises. The area of agriculture is particularly praised, with a strong support from the Ministry of Agriculture. The Prime Minister also noted the fact that in the second quarter there was a growth of 8.8 percent in agricultural production in Montenegro.
The meeting was also attended by Vice President of the Municipality Anela Krištostorac and the President of the Municipal Assembly Dragiša Sokić, who expressed the intention of the local parliament to adopt regulations that will reduce business barriers for small and medium enterprises.
16 November 2018 - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Montenegro Milutin Simović met with Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mirko Šarović. The two officials held a bilateral meeting on the margins of the Ministerial Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development in Struga.
Minister Šarović stressed that Montenegro is a regional leader in the field of agriculture within the European integration process and its experience will be extremely important for Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the meeting, the Agreement on cooperation in the field of agriculture and rural development between Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina was signed.
DPM Simović said that the Agreement is another step in the creation of an additional framework for deepening cooperation and good neighbourly and friendly relations between the two countries.
He said that the Agreement gives the opportunity to develop cooperation not only in the field of agriculture and rural development but also in the fields of forestry and water management.
"I am confident that our experience will be useful to our colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in the opening of negotiation chapters, meeting the initial and final benchmarks, as well as the use of pre-accession funds," DPM Simović said, stressing that Montenegro will offer institutional assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The two officials also pointed to the importance of the fact that Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina do not have open issues.
"We can encourage the businessmen of the two countries that Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue to cherish the relationship of openness and respect of the signed free trade agreements," Deputy Prime Minister Simović stressed.
DPM Simović also met with Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy of Macedonia Ljupco Nikolovski, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of Slovenia Aleksandra Pivec, and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry of Bulgaria Rumen Porodzanov.