10th April 2019 - Meeting commitments from the negotiation process, in the first quarter of 2019, had excellent dynamics, which is confirmed by the level of implementation of activities from the Programme of Accession of Montenegro to the EU 2019-2020, Adviser to the Chief Negotiator Dragana Marković said at a press conference following the Government of Montenegro's session.
At this session, the Cabinet passed the first quarterly report on meeting commitments under the Programme of Accession of Montenegro to the EU 2019-2020.
Marković pointed out that the Government was satisfied with the fulfillment of obligations in the first quarter, amounting to 74%, emphasising that 53 out of 72 planned commitments in the legislative and strategic part were met.
She pointed out that, compared to the first quarter of 2018, when the level of meeting commitments amounted to 67%, we see the progress resulting from the dedicated and responsible work of the institutions, as well as good inter-ministerial coordination in meeting commitments of the negotiation process.
According to Marković, two laws, 26 bylaws and 25 strategic documents were adopted in the first quarter, whose high-quality and efficient application will improve the situation in a significant number of areas and improve the quality of life of our citizens.
"The largest number of laws and bylaws, 18 of them, is planned in Chapter 27 - Environment and Climate Change, Chapter 12 - Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy and Chapter 15 - Energy. The largest number of strategic documents, 16 of them, is planned in Chapter 23 - Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, Chapter 24 - Justice, Freedom and Security, and Chapter 29 - Customs Union," Marković said.
She pointed out that all institutions were fully committed to meeting commitments from the Programme of Accession, and that the full implementation of the overall activities in the first quarter was achieved by the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Public Administration, the Ministry of Culture, the Capital Market Commission and the Central Bank of Montenegro.
She said that the continuation of the high-quality and efficient implementation of the Programme of Accession would ensure the improvement of the results of the negotiation structure and the intensification of reforms that lead to better living standards and the quality of life of citizens, which is the ultimate goal of the European integration process.
April 11, 2019 - NGO representatives argue that the Government does not consult them when deciding on and writing laws, although the European Union (EU) requires them. They warn that the Government of Duško Marković, as well as the previous one, tried to reduce the influence of NGO representatives in working groups and ignore their views. Executive Director of the Center for Civic Education (CGO-CCE) Daliborka Uljarevic believes that the gap between authorities and critically oriented NGOs is huge, warning that the "most devastating campaign of co-workers" is most contributing to this.
April 10, 2019 - The delegation of the Citizens' Movement Odupri Se 97,000 expect to get a call to visit Brussels and talk to European officials, said one of the members of the organizing committee of the civil movement, Dzemal Perovic, after meeting with the head of the European Union (EU) delegation in Montenegro, Aivo Orav.
09 April 2019 - Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković, who is currently in an official visit to Austria and Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Sebastian Kurz met in Vienna to continue the dialogue on the current results in relations between Montenegro and Austria and further cooperation.
Marković and Kurz both agreed that the bilateral relations of the two countries are good and that they see opportunities for further development, especially in the area of the economy. Chancellor Kurz said that Austria fully supports the European aspirations of Montenegro, while Prime Minister Marković noted that his country highly values the engagement of Austria and Chancellor Kurz in the Western Balkans.
Noting Austria's good relations with the Western Balkans region, Chancellor Kurz pointed out excellent relations with Montenegro - an excellent political connection and enormous economic potential. "Austria is one of the biggest investors in Montenegro, and we also see here excellent potential and many opportunities for economic exchange but also for additional investments in Montenegro," Kurz said at a joint press conference held at the Federal Chancellery following official talks.
Federal Chancellor Kurz referred to the progress Montenegro has made in the field of European integration and assessed as a particularly important continuation of the strengthening of the rule of law, the fight against corruption and the battle for freedom of the press.
Prime Minister Duško Marković took this opportunity to thank the Chancellor for supporting Montenegro country and the entire Western Balkans region. "It is a pleasure to be in Vienna in the first official visit of the Prime Minister of Montenegro to Austria after the renewal of our independence in 2006. After several meetings recently, I am pleased that we met here again and continued the dialogue on further cooperation and the current results in relations between Montenegro and Austria. Montenegro highly appreciates the role of Austria, as well as of the Chancellor personally, in the Western Balkans. First of all, we appreciate the continued commitment to consolidating the European perspective of Montenegro and the region, strongly expressed during Austrian presidency of the Council of the European Union last year, "Prime Minister Marković said at the press conference.
Chancellor Kurz congratulated Prime Minister Marković on the positive development of Montenegro. "In Montenegro, there is almost 5% of economic growth last year and probably 4% this year. These are much larger numbers and very positive prospects for economic growth, which is optimistic for Montenegro and the region as well. Your economic growth is far above ours. Austria looks forward to success and supports Montenegro and the countries of the Western Balkans," the Austrian Chancellor emphasised.
Chancellor Kurz said that many Montenegrins are living in Austria who make a significant contribution to Austrian society. He emphasised that Austria remains a reliable partner to Montenegro and the region, and thanked the Prime Minister for the visit and the possibility to exchange opinions.
The talks were conducted after a solemn welcome which was organised with the highest state honour.
April 7, 2019 - The eighth in a series of peaceful civic protests under the slogan Odupri Se 97,000 was held on Saturday in Podgorica with the participation of several thousand people insisting on resignations and fundamental political and social changes in Montenegro.
The demonstrators gathered this time on the plateau in front of the Assembly, then held a protest walk along the Street of Liberty near the Supreme State Prosecutor’s building, Boulevard of Ivan Crnojević, then Stanko Dragojević Street near the Government building and back to the Assembly. Nikola Grdinić addressed the gathered citizens before the protest walk, saying that he was, on behalf of the organiser, the one who announced the eighth gathering.
"I use the word to announce the actions of nonviolent resistance that we will start on other days, not just on Saturdays and not just in Podgorica but in all Montenegrin cities."
Grdinić emphasised that the Odupri Se movement will not become a political party and that it will remain the movement of all citizens.
"This is the chance we will unite in the best possible way among us, and we will become the first free choice in this country. We, the citizens, are here to ensure that this process is in the direction of a better future for all of us. We want to see the state on which the leaders will be statesmen, not thieves," Grdinić said.
He also pointed out his two impressions about the police.
"When I reported this meeting, I met an official, and I was delighted with his professionalism and attitudes. Only two days after that, a situation appeared where ten police officers were battling an unarmed young man. That record should be the last drop in the full glass of our reasons for the protest. "
He urged young people to form a living wall in front of the protective fence to send a "message of solidarity and unity."
Vuk Vujisic, a representative of the Student Initiative, who has been focusing on the University's imprisonment and the unparalleled work of the Student Parliament in the last couple of months, said that the students "will not stop until every young man knows about freedom."
"These young people are here because they want the state to create the conditions for a normal life. It is not normal for young people after graduating to leave this country in search of a better life. It is not normal for a party booklet to be worth more than knowledge and diploma. It is not normal for one's son to spend 300 euros a night, while someone works for the same sum for a month."
Vujisic recalled that the University of Montenegro was "captured and under the influence of party structures".
"It was the Day of students, our day, but as it usually goes, the students who present together with the authorities say that everything is fine. That situation is never better. And I'm wondering if you're happy or you want change," the demonstrators screamed, "We Want Change! ".
"I dream of a country in which a young man after college gets a job based on his knowledge, from whom he will be able to live and not survive! I dream of an ecological state in which public good and natural beauty are in front of an individual's pocket. I dream of a state of Montenegro with equal chances for everyone. For such a country it is worth fighting and inviting all young people to fight for it," said Vujisic.
Citizens were also addressed by "civil activist" Dragan Sošić. He said he was proud of being "a civic activist because it meant fighting this system and loudly speaking".
"The state is made up of territories, governments and citizens. The territory is endangered every day. We need bodies to defend Montenegro. We defend Zabljak, lakes, sea, rivers that several families have kidnapped and not released for 30 years. They plunder, kidnap, scare, blackmail, and kill! Enough!”
Sošić said that the citizens are the most delicate part of the state and that they are on defence. He announced a non-violent action of civil disobedience that would "paralyse the system and make them leave".
After the walk, Grdinić checked out of the eighth Odupri Se gathering. He said, "we should not pay attention to what the DPS and Duško Knezevic are talking about and not to let the opposition fight back."
"These are our protests, protests by all citizens, those who do not want to suffer humiliation and poverty. It is only important that we all together raise a voice against this regime. We must not give up," emphasised Grdinić.
The date of the next protest will be announced soon, together with the plan of all other civil disobedience actions, informed the PR team of the Odupri Se movement.
April 6, 2019 - The eighth protest under the slogan Odupri Se - 97,000 will be held on 6 April at 7 pm on the platform in front of the Assembly of Montenegro in Podgorica.
05 April 2019 - The pro-Western president of Montenegro, who has defied Russia to steer his small country into NATO, has warned that the integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union is crucial for the bloc to protect itself from growing Russian and Chinese political and economic influence in the region.
Milo Đukanović told The Associated Press in an interview that Britain’s chaotic divorce from the EU and other crises in the bloc seem to have diminished the union’s enthusiasm to accept new members, but that Europe must not hand over the strategic region to other global players.
Đukanović said Russia and China have legitimate interests in the Balkans, where Russian political influence has grown, especially in neighboring Serbia. China, meanwhile, has spent heavily on infrastructure to increase its clout in central and Eastern Europe.
“But the question is not whether Russia, China or a third country have their interests in the Balkans. The question is why Europe is handing over that region to anyone else,” Đukanović said. “I believe this is primarily Europe’s interest.”
Đukanović insisted that if the Balkan countries — which went through a series of wars in the 1990s’ and are still lagging in reforms needed for EU entry — remain outside EU’s grasp, the bloc’s future would be jeopardized.
“The alternative is the destruction of Europe,” Đukanović said. “I think that Europe must protect itself from that destruction and must recognize its strategic interests.”
After joining NATO in 2017, Montenegro is the next in line to join the EU, with 2025 slated as the earliest possible date for entry. Serbia too could participate by 2025, while Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia have not yet reached that level of pre-entry negotiations.
However, France and some other EU states have voiced skepticism even about those dates in the wake of the turbulent British split from the bloc, warning that Europe must first deal with its problems before it can expand.
Đukanović insisted that the EU should pursue its enlargement policies regardless of the crisis.
“We must not treat this issue as a Montenegrin issue, or a Balkan issue, we must treat it as a European issue,” he warned. “There is no better consolidation of the European Union than its further unification.”
Đukanović, a veteran politician who has ruled Montenegro for 30 years, cited an alleged attempted coup in 2016 in Montenegro that he said was orchestrated by Russia’s military secret service as an example of Moscow’s “destructive” policies in the region.
Đukanović said, “there is no doubt” that Russia has been trying to prevent the Western Balkan nations from entering NATO. He said it is “clear” that Moscow has “destructive policies toward the EU, toward Europe’s unification and the Western values in general.”
Foreign powers, Đukanović suggested, are also playing a part in recent protests in Montenegro that seek his ouster from power over corruption allegations.
“A strategic political and cultural battle is still being fought in the Balkans,” he said.
Đukanović expressed hope that once resolved, the Brexit crisis will boost Europe’s unity rather than undermine it.
“Perhaps this experience with Brexit will strengthen the European Union,” said Đukanović. “I don’t see another European Union member rushing to repeat the British adventure.”
“It turns out that it is hard to enter the EU, but it’s even harder to leave,” he said.
Source: Associated Press
04 April 2019 - Prime Ministers of Montenegro and Romania, Duško Marković and Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă, agreed in Bucharest that the two countries have established friendly relations and partnership in NATO, that both aim to deepen economic cooperation, and that the successful completion of European accession of Montenegro and the continuation of European integration of other Western Balkan countries is the best framework for the stability of this part of Europe.
"We talked about the development of bilateral relations, successful cooperation within NATO, as well as the potential for strengthening our relations. Montenegro, as a NATO member, a country in far-reaching negotiations with the European Union and among the highest rates of economic growth in Europe, wants partners from the EU and NATO with whom it can develop successful economic cooperation," Prime Minister Duško Marković told a press conference following the official talks.
Prime Minister Dăncilă stressed that Montenegro is a country that can set an example to others in the region, adding that Romania gives priority to the Western Balkans. She underlined that Bucharest's official policy is to evaluate each state on individual merits.
The Prime Minister of Montenegro thanked his host for the support, noting that the country fully understands and supports Romania's efforts to fulfill the priorities of the presidency of the Council of the European Union in a very complex environment.
"Our ambitions are clear, our goal is to open the last negotiating chapter, Chapter 8 - Competition, and create the conditions for closing the chapter. We are encouraged by the support of Romania and the open and constructive talks we have had. We are focused on our obligations and we are not burdened with the developments within the Union, we do not base our plans and goals on this, and we make it clear to our partners. For us, Romania is not only a friend but also a partner who can, with its experience, help Montenegro achieve a strategic commitment of EU membership. We also appreciate Romania's understanding of the region of the Western Balkans and the significance of its European perspective," said Prime Minister Duško Marković.
Prime Minister Dăncilă underscored that Romania fully supports the ambitions of Montenegro in the EU integration process, including the plan to open the only remaining negotiating chapter.
The prime ministers announced concrete steps in terms of economic cooperation, including a meeting of the mixed commission of the two countries and the organisation of an economic forum that would bring together business communities of Montenegro and Romania. Agriculture, energy and tourism are recognised as concrete areas of cooperation. Direct cooperation within NATO was agreed in several areas.
The meeting of Prime Minister Duško Marković and President of Romania Klaus Werner Iohannis focused on European integration of Montenegro.
By the same token, the Romanian President said that in almost five years of his mandate, he has been taking the position that the European Union is not complete without the Western Balkans, and that NATO is not complete without the Western Balkan countries. It is a good thing that Montenegro is in NATO, President Iohannis pointed out, hopeful that the the successful continuation of Montenegro' European integration will continue, which, in his words, requires patience.
The Prime Minister exchanged views with the top Romanian officials about the issues of the Western Balkans and beyond.
Prime Minister Duško Marković will end his official visit to Romania late this afternoon with a meeting with Parliament Speaker Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu.
03 April 2019 - On the first day of his working visit to the United States, Foreign Affairs Minister Srđan Darmanović met with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker. The meeting agreed that bilateral and allied cooperation within NATO is excellent, pointing out the importance of dynamic maintaining political contacts at a high level. Furthermore, the officials exchanged views about current events and in the Western Balkans, modalities for boosting mutual trust and future stability of regional opportunities.
Montenegrin Chief of Diplomacy had separate meetings with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in Washington.
At a meeting with Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs of Representatives, Congressman Eliot Engel, Minister of Foreign Affairs Darmanović emphasised that regional cooperation is one of the foreign policy priorities and pointed to the numerous activities taken in the direction of its full affirmation. He highlighted that regional cooperation encourages and directs the dynamics of the EU path and represents a significant mechanism in resolving remaining open issues in the region.
Congressman Eliot congratulated Montenegro on the previous progress and very significant role to provide and further strengthen stability and security in the region.
Foreign Minister Darmanović also spoke with NATOˈs Assembly’s Defense Chairman and Security Committee and Vice-President Congressman Michael Turner. Regarding the progress of the North Macedonia in Euro - Atlantic integration and resolving decades of old name disputes, Congressman Turner emphasised that acquiring full membership of Montenegro paved the path for the enlargement of the Alliance. Minister Darmanović repeated that Montenegro as the newest member firmly advocates for open door policy and more significant presence of NATO in the region, especially in terms of strengthening stability and security and thereby improving conditions for further economic and overall development.
Meeting with Congressman Doug Lamborn praised constructive engagement, active role and commitment of Montenegro to Allied goals and activities and highlighted mutual interest for resuming substantive and intensive cooperation between the two countries.
At the meeting with Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and the Subcommittee on Europe in the US Senate, Minister Darmanović once again pointed to Montenegro’s commitment to building a more stable and more prosperous region. Senator Ron Johnson said that Montenegro has recognised the importance of fostering the Alliance's values, and that its role in the Western Balkans region was encouraging. He also reiterated the strong commitment of the United States to continuing with a strong presence in the Western Balkans.
04 April 2019 - At the session held on April 4, the Montenegrin Government passed the Decision on the issuance of state bonds that are due in 2024 and the Decision on issuing state bonds that are due in 2026, intending to secure funding of the 2019 budget.
"The first Decision is about 140 million EUR, 5 years of repayment and interest rate of 3%, while the second Decision is about 50 million EUR, 7-year repayment period and an interest rate of 3.5%," said Dragan Darmanović of the Ministry of Finance.
"Unlike in previous years, when the nominal value of the bond amounted to 10,000.00 EUR, the nominal value of this bond will be 1,000 euros, and we think that it will be more acceptable for citizens and that they will participate in larger numbers in the issuance of bonds," the Minister explained.
According to Darmanović, in this way the State will try to activate the domestic market and develop the local capital market and trade in bonds to improve this form of trade, providing funds for the 2019 budget. Minister also stressed that he expects that the Government will be able to create even better conditions for the country’s structural reforms and the competitiveness of Montenegrin economy.
03 April 2019 -Montenegro is due to sign the regional roaming agreement with the countries of the Western Balkans in Belgrade, on April 4, which stipulates that the roaming charges in the region will be considerably reduced. By July 1, 2021, the price of a call in the area should cost as much as the price of a local call.
Montenegrin Minister of Economy, Dragica Sekulić, which will sign this agreement on behalf of the country, explains that the agreement, concluded under the auspices of the Western Balkans Digital Agenda, makes it mandatory for the signees not to exceed the upper limit of retail and wholesale prices of roaming services.
As explained within the agreement on roaming charges, mobile telephony operators in the region should reduce the prices of roaming to enable consumers to use electronic communications services outside the reach of their network, without paying steep fees.
The Ministry of Economy announced that the agreement would be signed by the representatives of the Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the Republic of Kosovo, the Republic of Northern Macedonia and the Republic of Serbia.
The Second Digital Summit will be opened by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, and Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, Houlin Zhao.
During the Digital Summit, Government of Montenegro and the Government of the Republic of Serbia will also sign an Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Electronic Identification and Authentication provided in Montenegro and Mutual Recognition of Qualified Trust Services provided in the Republic of Serbia.
This year’s summit will gather about 3,000 participants from 30 countries from Western Balkans, Europe, and the world.