Politics

22 Jun 2020, 12:41 PM
June 22, 2020 - the President of Croatia, Mr Zoran Milanović, will be making an official visit to Montenegro.
 
Mr Milanović will arrive in Montenegro today by military ship and will be welcomed in the Cetinje Residence with highest state honors by Mr Milo Đukanović.
 
Mr Đukanović and Mr Milanović will visit the Museum of King Nikola in Cetinje.
 
On the second day of the visit, the presidents will attend a traditional wheel-dance of the Boka navy in front of the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon in Kotor. They will also visit Kotor Diocese and will then attend a lunch organized by Mr Đukanović.
 
Mr Milanović will hold a meeting with Mr Ivan Brajović, President of the Parliament, and Mr Duško Marković, Prime Minister. He will also have a meeting with representatives of the Croatian community in Montenegro.
21 Jun 2020, 14:29 PM
June 21, 2020 - Former State Department spokesman Adam Ereli points out in an author's text published on ibtimes.com that Montenegro under Milo Djukanovic violates the basic preamble of the NATO alliance, which calls on member states to "preserve the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, based on the principles of democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law. "
 
Montenegro aspires to be a respected member of the Euro-Atlantic community. Unfortunately, the blatant kleptocracy of Montenegro’s leadership calls into question its suitability as a NATO ally and fitness to join the European Union.
 
President Milo Djukanovic has been running Montenegro  – either as Prime Minister or President — for the past 30 years. His record of venality and corruption rivals that of any autocrat. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project awarded Djukanovic its “Person of the Year Award” in 2015, in recognition of “his work in creating an oppressive political atmosphere and an economy choked by corruption and money laundering.” 
 
“Nobody outside of Putin has run a state that relies so heavily on corruption, organized crime and dirty politics,” the OCCRP wrote. “It is truly and thoroughly rotten to the core.”
 
In 2020, Freedom House downgraded its ranking of Montenegro from "a new democracy" to a “hybrid authoritarian regime," based on a sterling record of judicial interference, violations of religious freedom, attacks against the press and abuses of power. Assaults on journalists and the silencing of the opposition have become accepted practice. 
 
Today’s Montenegro is drowning in Chinese debt, and Djukanovic has run out of money to feed the hungry mouths of his state apparatus. Which explains his latest shakedown: the Serbian Orthodox Church. 
 
Late last year, the Government of Montenegro passed a “Law on Religious Freedom,” which in reality is a thinly disguised land-grab. The law not only requires all religious groups to register with state authorities but also to prove ownership of property built before 1918. If they cannot do this to the government's land registry satisfaction, the property becomes state-owned. Should the church contest land seizures or contentious claims, they must do so before the same Djukanovic-controlled body responsible for adjudicating the legal validity of their land ownership documents. Once a decision has been made, there is no right to appeal.
 
This is a full-frontal assault on the  Serbian Orthodox Church — the 800-year-old branch of Christian Orthodoxy that is the faith of more than 80% of Montenegrin citizens. The state authorities have made separate legal agreements with Montenegro ’s small Muslim and Jewish communities that exempt their properties. It should come as no surprise therefore that the law only passed in Parliament because Djukanovic’s government detained opposing MPs, along with dozens of priests, monks and even a bishop. Tens of thousands of Montenegrins took to the streets in protest.
 
The preamble to the NATO Treaty calls on Member “to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.” Under the rule of President Djukanovic, Montenegro is clearly violating both the letter and spirit of this commitment. The people of Montenegro deserve NATO’s protection, even though the nation's military provides little more than one thousand soldiers and a handful of obsolete, Cold War-era planes. That does not mean, however, that the alliance should provide cover for a renegade head of state and his government.
 
Ambassador Adam Ereli is a former State Department spokesman for Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice
 
 
21 Jun 2020, 14:00 PM
June 21, 2020 - Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has called parliamentary and local elections for August 30.
 
"Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, after holding consultations on June 16 with representatives of parliamentary parties and coalitions who responded to his invitation, spoke on the occasion of setting a date for parliamentary elections. In line with his competencies and the deadlines prescribed by the Constitution of Montenegro, The Law on Election of Councillors and Deputies, and the Law on Local Self-Government for local-level elections, the President approved the Decision on announcing elections for deputies to the Parliament of Montenegro and the Decision on announcing elections for councillors to the Municipal Assembly of Andrijevica, the Assembly of the Municipality of Budva, the Assembly of the Municipality of Gusinje and the Assembly of the Municipality of Kotor," it was announced from the office of the President.
 
The date of the elections for councillors to the Municipal Assembly of Tivat, it is added, is determined by the Decision on amendments to the Decision on announcing elections for councillors to the Municipal Assembly of Tivat.
 
"Following the aforementioned decisions by the President of Montenegro, which enter into force on the day of its adoption, the elections for deputies and councillors will be held on August 30, 2020," the statement concludes.
16 Jun 2020, 15:43 PM
June 16, 2020 - Considering the content of the European Commission's working document on the situation in the field of the rule of law - the "Non-Paper", the Association of Lawyers of Montenegro and the Civic Alliance, consider it necessary that all actors from political life, judiciary, and civil society recognize their individual responsibilities. It is crucial to eliminate the "weak points" of the system to move the EU integration process from a state of dormancy and maintain an active chance for Montenegrin society to become part of the EU community.
 
The Association of Lawyers and the Civic Alliance see the European Commission document in the form of a "non-paper" as a response from the EU to the ongoing dysfunctional democracy, the situation unfolding in many institutions, the "third mandate", and the "missed chances" to achieve the rule of law.
 
As civil society organizations, we consider it essential that Montenegro respect the recommendations from the EC document and fulfill the tasks identified from the negotiation process contained in Chapter 23 and thus return to the operation of "consolidation of democracy." For these goals to be met, the institutions should restore confidence in the justice system. "Especially since the non-election of the leaders of these institutions can no longer be justified by "bad constitutional solutions." Brussels' objection is not aiming to change the Constitution but to achieve political will to consistently implement the Constitution," declares the joint statement from the Lawyers' Association and the Civic Alliance.
 
The key to ending the ongoing institutional dysfunction lies in the institutions themselves and their apparent lack of capacity to produce progress. Also, the functioning of the political/parliamentary system is a broader political agreement that requires a change in political culture.
 
"Civil society, professional organizations, and civic associations also bear part of their responsibility in the community's overall effort to combat endemic corruption, high-level crime, and weaknesses in the functioning of leading institutions for the rule of law. In the future, the Council for the Rule of Law will additionally articulate their positions on the need to build Montenegro on the foundations of the rule of law," the statement added.
 
The joint statement of the Association and the Alliance is the result of the intention to more strongly identify weaknesses and integrate broader social potential in public policy to prevent partitocracy, nationalism, and monopolies from pulling the entire country in the opposite direction from the defined EU integration process.
13 Jun 2020, 16:36 PM
June 13, 2020 - The civic movement of URA has been accepted into the Greens of Europe's family at the 31st European Green Party Online Council, which was held from 10-13 June 2020.
 
The admission of the Civic Movement URA into the membership of the Greens of Europe is a significant day for Montenegro, said the President of URA, Dritan Abazović.
 
"For the first time in independent Montenegro, one opposition party has become part of a large family of political parties, the Greens in Europe, the fourth-largest force in the European Parliament. Although we are truly honored to receive 94 percent support, it is not just a historic moment for us. We needed three-quarters of the votes to be elected. This is already a big moment because this is proof - for the first time, there is a seal - that the Montenegrin opposition is the European opposition, "said Abazovic.
 
He expressed hope that this would be an introduction to "the great changes our country deserves."
 
"Introduction to a Montenegro that will be a proud, dignified country under the rule of law. A country of happy people, who will live from their work, honest, without corruption and organized crime. A Montenegro, which will protect its citizens and natural resources, and that we will all rejoice, I hope, very soon, to see capital changes in our country that will mean a better life for all. Thank you all for your support. Thank you to the MEPs of the Greens and all our partners. Montenegro is not alone; we are leading it to new victories," said Abazovic.

European Green Party Committee Recommendation for URA Movement

The European Green Party (EGP) conducted a study visit to Montenegro in August 2019 and a fact-finding mission in early March 2020, as part of the Montenegrin political party URA (United Reform Action).
 
URA has officially applied for EGP membership in October 2019. The EGP has been in contact with URA since 2018. Their party leader attended the Council in Berlin (Germany) in November 2018. After their application, a delegation was invited to the following Council in Tampere (Finland) in November 2019.
 
In August 2019, the study visit included meetings with different structures of URA, activists from NGOs, and civil society, supporting citizens' movements and struggles with several cases of environmental destruction. The visit showed that URA is a well-established party, respected and in cooperation with civil society, and with the potential to grow.
 
In March 2020, the EGP delegation- Thomas Waitz (Co-Chair), Mar Garcia (Secretary-General), and Mélanie Vogel (Member of the Committee responsible for Montenegro) visited our country. This mission included meetings with the central leadership and Political and Advisory board of URA, their Youth and Women's Forum, several local councilors, and the local party board in Budva. Other meetings were organized with EU Ambassador Orav Aivo and German Ambassador Robert Weber, NGOs "Hoću Da Ostanem and Kor- Coalition for Sustainable Development, LGBT Forum Progress, Editor-in-Chief of Balkan Insight, and a Professor of International Environmental and Private Law at the State Law university.
 
URA is recognized and generally positively viewed, and cooperates with civil society, academia, and other stakeholders. They are acknowledged as a political party and advocate against national, ethnic, and religious divisions that define the political landscape in Montenegro, concluded EGP Committee Recommendation Letter, adopted today by 94 percent of European Green Family.
 
Source: Vijesti Online, europeangreens.eu
12 Jun 2020, 21:13 PM

Update on Chapters 23 and 24

June 12, 2020  - The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges in the area of judicial reform and contributed to certain objective delays in Montenegro's work on its rule of law agenda, the "Non-Paper" document states.

The European Commission is concerned about the controversial appointment of senior officials in the Montenegrin judiciary, and challenges remain with regard to the overall situation in the area of freedom of expression and the media, according to a draft informal progress document in Chapters 23 and 24, known as the “Non-Paper”, "Vijesti" reports.

The non-paper on the situation regarding Chapters 23 and 24 for Montenegro should be published soon, and provides an overview of Montenegro's progress in these areas since the last non-paper presented in November 2019, as well as relevant statistics for 2019.

"During the reporting period, Montenegro continued to implement action plans for Chapters 23 and 24 and other strategic documents in the field of the rule of law, and has also adopted new ones. It worked to address the extraordinary challenges highlighted in the 2019 EC Report, the conclusions of the Council of June 18, 2019 and the non-paper from November 2019, especially in the critical areas of media freedom, the fight against corruption and human trafficking,” the Non-Paper states.

It adds that the COVID-19 pandemic created additional challenges in the field of judicial reform and contributed to certain objective delays in Montenegro's work on its rule of law agenda.

There is mention once again that the parliament could not provide the necessary two-thirds majority for important appointments in the judiciary and, therefore, key functions are being filled by officials in an acting capacity (Supreme State Prosecutor, Agency for Prevention of Corruption).

"In addition, concerns are growing about the controversial appointments of senior judicial officials, which are not in line with GRECO's recommendations on judicial independence. It remains important that Montenegro does not go backwards in judicial reform and continues to see results, especially in the fight against corruption, while ensuring the true independence of all institutions," the EC said.

They note that a legal framework guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary exists, however, the judiciary and the prosecution are still perceived as vulnerable to political interference.

It is recalled that between 2019 and early 2020, the Judicial Council reappointed a total of seven court presidents, including Supreme Court President Vesna Medenica, for a third term, raising concerns about the way the Judicial Council interprets the Constitution and legislation.

They also point to the election of a "presiding judge" instead of the president of the Constitutional Court, although the legal framework does not provide for such a category.

"Under Chapter 23, Montenegro is continuing to work on a new legal framework for the media. There has been some progress in investigating old cases of attacks on media property. But challenges to the overall situation in the area of ​​freedom of expression and the media remain. New criminal investigations have been opened in cases of corruption, and property has been temporarily or permanently confiscated," the EC said.

The EC is also raising the issue of the objectivity of the evaluation procedure and the application of evaluation criteria, when promoting judges to higher positions. Also, the practice of redistributing a large number of cases between courts has continued in order to reduce backlogs, but without applying clear criteria.

They add that in 2019, there were no new disciplinary proceedings against prosecutors (there were four in 2018). In the same period, there were 14 reports of alleged violations of the code of ethics for judges.

Chapter 24 summarizes the initial results of the fight against trafficking in persons. Internal organization and coordination of law enforcement agencies have been further improved, reflecting an increase in arrests and prosecutions.

Montenegro's active involvement in international police co-operation has again resulted in successful operations against Montenegrin criminal clans, at home and abroad, including two high-profile cases.

However, access to key databases is still limited and slows investigations. Long court proceedings and additional adjournments continue to prevent verdicts in organized crime cases. Final verdicts based on plea bargains remain the norm, leading to more lenient sentences. In the area of ​​migration and asylum, Montenegro has continued to show resilience and commitment amid increased migration flows across the country. An agreement with the EU, which envisages the deployment of European border and coast guards along the border of Montenegro, has been ratified and is expected to enter into force on July 1, 2020.

The Fight Against Corruption

The EC states that despite strengthening the capacity of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (APC) and the proactive work of the new Council (for example, the Government Housing Policy for Officials), challenges remain regarding integrity, impartiality, transparency, independence, a non-selective approach and the uniform and full application of legislation.

It is worth recalling that the APC investigated 31 unexplained wealth cases in 2019, but did not find any irregularities.

In addition, the amendments to the Law on Financing of Political Parties, which were adopted by the parliament in December last year, only partially addressed OSCE/ODIHR recommendations. This law permits the allocation of social assistance from the budget reserve in an election year.

"Appropriate safeguards must be put in place to prevent the misuse of public funds for election campaign purposes," the document said.

In addition, the implementation of the current law on free access to information has not helped  increase the accountability and transparency of public services.

"The overall impact of anti-corruption measures in particularly vulnerable areas (local self-government, spatial planning, public procurement, privatization, health and education) has yet to show tangible results," the EC said.

They add that the amendments to the Law on Public Procurement, which were adopted at the end of 2019, should improve the transparency of public procurement procedures and help reduce corruption risks.

As for high-level corruption, they state that records have been established of investigations, prosecutions and final convictions in high-level corruption cases, further consolidation is yet to be carried out.

The "Envelope" affair is duly recalled, the prosecution accusing former Mayor of Podgorica and current advisor to the President Slavoljub Stijepovic of money laundering, as well mentioning that there were no changes in connection with the extradition of the former president of SCG Svetozar Marović, who is in Serbia.

Protection of Personal Data

New legislation is being prepared in the field of personal data protection.

"The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the challenges in this area in finding the right balance between health care on the one hand, and respect for the confidentiality of personal health data and the right to privacy of citizens on the other. A list of all persons subject to self-isolation measures was published and then used by one individual to develop an application allowing users to find those in self-isolation. In April 2020, a list of more than 60 people infected with the virus, containing their names, birth data and ID number, was leaked. A criminal investigation is currently underway," the non-paper stated.

As for freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the EC states that the Law on Freedom of Religion was adopted in December last year in order to regulate the status of religious communities and that the Government, after large religious gatherings and protests, initiated a dialogue between legal experts and the Serbian Orthodox Church, which considers itself directly threatened by this law.

The arrest of priests for non-compliance with protection measures against coronavirus is also mentioned.

The Media

In 2019, four attacks on journalists were registered. Charges have been brought in three cases.

Protection was offered to two journalists, and further cyber-attacks against the media were recorded.

"Despite the initial results of the investigation into the serious attack on journalist Olivera Lakić in May 2018, no charges have been brought so far. No further light has been shed on four cases of attacks on media property in 2011 and 2014, when five vehicles were damaged and destroyed. Two people - minors at the time of the attack - were arrested, but the organizers of the attack remain unknown,” the EC document said.

It is added that the recommendations of the Commission for Monitoring Investigations of Attacks on the Media have yet to be implemented.

It is also stated that the transition of RTCG from state media to a fully public service has not yet been completed, and the appointment of a new Board in June 2019 failed to improve the editorial independence and professional standards of the Public Service.

Gender Equality

The EC states that sexual harassment has not yet been qualified as a criminal offence, and in 2019, a large number of cases of violence against women and of domestic violence were recorded.

"Despite the commitment of the authorities and the concrete measures taken, challenges remain regarding the reaction of the services to cases of domestic violence," the non-paper states, pointing to too lenient sanctions.

Also, it adds, a very small number of reported cases of sexual violence against children continue to cause concern due to insufficient reporting and identification of the victims.

Non-Paper on Fight Against Organized Crime

The EC notes that the police need more senior investigators in areas of organized crime and drug smuggling, and experts in charge of special investigative measures and cybercrime, economic crime and forensics.

They recall that murders related to criminal clans, which cross state borders, are still frequent in Montenegro.

While the number of investigations and prosecutions regarding serious and organized crimes is growing, the number of final convictions remains low, court proceedings are overly long due to frequent delays, and very often there are lenient sentences for suspects who are cooperative regardless of the severity of the crime.

"The response to crimes, with some exceptions, seems lacklustre, with verdicts, fines and confiscation of property disproportionately low compared to the severity of the crime," the EC said.

They point to limited initiation of financial investigations, which in most cases are initiated too late and remain focused on finding assets, which is not in line with EU standards.

The legal framework for the fight against organized crime is, as they say, largely established and harmonized with the Acquis Communautaire (EU).

"In December 2019, Montenegro again amended the law on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. In 2020, the law will need to be amended again, in order to remove the remaining shortcomings and harmonize it with the EU anti-money laundering directive", the EC states. They also recall that in May 2020, Moneyval officially removed Montenegro from the monitoring process fourth round, considering that the country has taken sufficient steps to rectify the shortcomings identified in 2015, and that the Montenegrin Anti-Money Laundering Authority has applied for reinstatement to Egmont Group membership, which was withdrawn after the Administration ceased to exist in its previous legal form.

The integration of the Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing into the police department within the Police Directorate led to the automatic exclusion of Montenegro from the Egmont Group, a platform for ensuring the safe exchange of money laundering intelligence around the world.

Tobacco Smuggling

It is recalled that in 2019, there were no court verdicts in the fight against tobacco smuggling. However, criminal proceedings were conducted in three major cases, including one case involving 22 suspects. In another case, a well-known suspected smuggler was arrested, who had been wanted for 20 years. Seizures of illegal tobacco are regularly carried out by customs and police. The total amount of seizures in 2019 was 1,719 million packs of cigarettes, worth 39 million euros, and 1,531 kg of cut tobacco.

"However, despite the growing efforts of law enforcement agencies in this area and the improved cooperation between Montenegrin customs and the EU and international partners, the number of proceedings initiated is still small, given the estimated scale of tobacco smuggling in Montenegro and beyond," the non-paper states.

Source: Vijesti Online   Biljana Matijašević

04 Jun 2020, 16:05 PM

June 4, 2020 - "Draft amendments to the Energy Law leave burning energy problems in Montenegro unresolved. By avoiding a permanent abolition of incentives for small hydropower plants, the new law will continue to sponsor the destruction of rivers and enrich private investors,"  environmental organizations WWF Adria, Eco-team and Action for Social Justice said in a joint statement.

Last week, the Ministry of Economy commented on the observations to draft legislation on Amendments to the Energy Law.

"This law, if adopted by the Parliament of Montenegro, will contribute to slowing down the economic recovery of Montenegro, and we can only imagine the consequences this will have for nature. Instead of building a stable and sustainable energy system that takes into account the long-term development of the country and all the challenges we will face resulting from climate change, the Ministry of Economy and the entire Government are continuing with the status quo. Unfortunately, it's the people who will pay the price of their negligence," the statement said.

During the public debate, conducted during the pandemic, several civil society organizations and individuals, but also state-owned companies, sent comments on the draft law. Between the deadline for the submission of observations and the Ministry's official statement, not a single session of the responsible working group was held, which, as the organizations stated, significantly violated the transparency and democracy of the entire procedure.

"At the end of April, several non-governmental organizations, with the support of WWF Adria, sent comments on the draft law. They used the opportunity to recall that the new legal solution should stipulate that the development of energy activities should protect public interests and that the production of energy from renewable sources must not jeopardize sustainable development and environmental protection. Although the process of drafting the new law went without direct discussion, it will inevitably be accepted. The Ministry of Economy has once again shown that they are not interested in real public participation, even when it comes to topics that concern all Montenegrin citizens, and that should be opened up to their due participation," announced a statement from the environmental organizations.

WWF Adria, Eco-team and Action for Social Justice, in anticipation of this year's World Environment Day, are expressing their sincere regret over the entire process.

"The development of the private sector is important for the future of the whole country, especially in a period of economic recovery, but it must be sustainable, transparent, and equally accessible to all, without undermining the environment and the well-being of citizens. By acting in this way, the public good and the resources owned by all citizens are used for private interests with great losses for society as a whole," environmentalists believe.

25 May 2020, 00:59 AM

May 25, 2020 - "Montenegro has been an exemplary country in many ways, among the EU candidate countries. But it is no longer that!" says Tanja Fajon, Member of the EU Parliament, thus expressing her concern for the latest developments in Montenegro.

There is no crisis - including this current, health one - that could serve as an excuse to undermine democratic standards, she added. And she thinks of the violations of the privacy of Montenegrin citizens: a few weeks ago, the government published the full names and addresses of people who tested positive for the corona virus on its official internet portal. She also thinks of the ongoing conflict with the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. It marked the months before the corona crisis, and will probably seal it until the parliamentary elections lately in October this year.

During the corona crisis, the American organization Freedom House (Freedom House) issued a lousy testimony of behavior to the Montenegrin government. In its annual report on the state of democracy, the organization defined Montenegro as a "hybrid regime" in a "gray zone between democracy and open autocracy." And this organization accuses the political elite of Montenegro of authoritarian rule, abuse of power, severe deficits in the judiciary, the fight against corruption, and media freedoms.

However, the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists will not benefit from its crisis management in the crown. This phenomenon is known as the "preventive paradox": since Montenegro went through the crisis smoothly, the Montenegrin public did not register it as a "real" crisis. And thus the successes of preventive measures.

On the other hand: it will not affect the behavior of voters in the elections. Despite all the international criticism of the country's political leadership, especially that Montenegro has not made visible progress in EU accession talks for a long time, observers believe the DPS, the party of 30-year-old longtime regent Milo Djukanovic, will win parliamentary elections again in October.

Montenegro was the last country in Europe to be diagnosed with a corona infection. And there is a chance that it will be the first in Europe to declare the end of the corona epidemic. According to WHO regulations, this requires that there be no new virus outbreaks for 28 days in a row. When we wrote this, there were already 17 days without new cases.

As the first "corona free" destination in Europe, Montenegro hopes to be still able to save the 2020 tourist season. The first steps in that direction have already been taken. Beaches and hotels have been open since May 18. And from June 1, Montenegro will most likely open its borders to neighboring countries.

Author: Srdjan Govedarica, in collaboration with Zoran Ikonic and Dejan Stefanovic

19 May 2020, 22:45 PM
May 19, 2020 - The announcement that Montenegro will soon be a coronavirus-free destination has aroused great interest in the United Arab Emirates, said the new UAE ambassador, HE Abdulaziz Nasser Saeed Al Shamsi, during the meeting with Montenegro President, Mr Milo Đukanović, who received today her credential letter, as well as the one from the newly appointed Ambassador of the Slovak Republic, HE Boris Gandel.
 
Following the reception of credential letters, the President received ambassadors and thanked them for their understanding having in mind that the ceremony itself had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
 
“I am pleased to have this ceremony held in the Old Royal Capital Cetinje, in line with the usual protocol, which is entirely proper when ambassadors of friendly Slovakia and the UAE, to which we are bound by many beautiful and important dates in the recent history of the Montenegrin state, come to Montenegro,” the President said in an introductory speech.
 
Speaking with Mr. Gandel, President Đukanović said that he had been satisfied with the overall relations between the two states, being additionally fostered and improved over the past decade.
 
Đukanović Gandel 4 1320x880
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Montenegro does not forget the role that Slovakia and its diplomacy had in the process of regaining its independence, NATO accession, and the process of EU integration,” he said.
 
Mr. Gandel congratulated the President on the forthcoming Independence Day, noting that Slovakia played its role in it.
 
His mission will be to foster the existing relations between the two states even more.
 
As for the meeting with the UAE Ambassador, President Đukanović stressed that he had been assured that running a mandate in a friendly country represents the special privilege just as it’s a privilege for Montenegro to have the UAE and its top officials as friends.
 
“Friendship between our countries has been confirmed in the time of the coronavirus, with the donation from UAE to Montenegro following my conversation with Sheikh Mohammed, and we are deeply grateful to you,” the President said.
 
HE Abdulaziz Nasser Saeed Al Shamsi noted that she was glad to be in Montenegro, pointing out the extraordinary relations between the two governments.
 
“Montenegro has made remarkable progress,“ said the Ambassador and congratulated President  Đukanović on significant achievements and the right path Montenegro has been following.
 
Source: CDM
07 May 2020, 14:42 PM
May 7, 2020 - The EU-Western Balkans Summit was held via video link on Wednesday, hosted by the President of the Council of Europe, Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Croatia, currently presiding over the EU, Andrej Plenkovic, and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The main topics of the conference gathering leaders of the Western Balkans and top EU officials were the fight against the coronavirus and the European future of the region.
 
Leaders of the six Western Balkan countries and EU member countries have been discussing issues related to cooperation in the fight with the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences. The participants also accepted the Zagreb Declaration. As stated in the lead of the document, the Declaration is another confirmation of the EU's "strong solidarity with our partners in the context of the coronavirus crisis.
 
High ranking Addressing the group, President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, said that Brussels's help and support proved that the EU's solidarity didn't stop at its borders and that this was a testament to European unity. He stressed that the Balkans shouldn't be left to third parties. Djukanovic also said it was time for the EU to assume a new position on the global scene, through strengthening stability and finishing the process of European enlargement.
 
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that the EU was ready to support reform and the EU integration efforts of its neighboring countries. The Croatian government said that the EU would support the six Western Balkan countries in the fight against Covid-19 and that the European Commission (EC) was preparing a significant economic aid package, which will coincide with Western Balkan country progress reports.
 
The President of the Council of Europe, Charles Michel, stressed that it was important for the countries of the region to continue with reforms, the strengthening of the rule of law, adherence to democratic values and the fight against corruption, which he said was crucial for the Western Balkans' European future.
06 May 2020, 16:51 PM
May 6, 2020 - Montenegro and Serbia, for the first time since 2003, are not democratic states, the report of the "Transition Countries" report by the non-governmental organization Freedom House, a document that explores and describes the governance of 29 countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, reports Voice of America.
 
In the 2020 report, Montenegro and Serbia are categorized as transition governments or hybrid regimes - in which power is grounded in authoritarianism as a result of incomplete democratic change.
 
Such a government, in one state, can simultaneously carry out political repression and call elections.
 
"Albania, Serbia, and Montenegro have seen the most significant decline – considering all Balkan countries, while Serbia and Montenegro have regressed in the fight against corruption. There is no effective action in response to high-level corruption cases, and there are instances of dissolution of institutions and reluctance to act to counteract corruption effectively, "Michael Smeltzer from Freedom House told the Voice of America.
 
The report covers 29 countries in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the former Communist bloc, classifying them into five categories: consolidated democracies, semi-consolidated democracies, transitional or hybrid regimes, semi-consolidated authoritarian regimes, and consolidated authoritarian regimes.
 
When it comes to Montenegro, Michael Smeltzer, a Freedom House researcher, tells Voice of America that the problems are most evident in the judiciary.
 
"Negative trends and shortcomings in independent work have been reported in this area. In this regard, researchers have noted the worrying cases of scandal in the judiciary and the prosecution. The concern is further intensified by the fact that the mandate of members of the Judicial Council expires, "Smeltzer said.
 
Also, the report analyzes problems in the Montenegrin parliamentary practice.
 
"In 2016, members of the opposition refused to participate in the work of the Assembly, since - after the elections, which they labeled as unfair - for the tenth time, the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) took power. The ruling DPS-dominated Assembly has slowed down electoral reforms - making it difficult to boycott opposition lawmakers. The DPS-dominated parliament has slowly led electoral reforms, though they have also been hampered by difficulties in collecting quorums during the boycott. However, there were no major problems in gaining votes to adopt the controversial Freedom of Religion Act," it said, among other things, in a report on Montenegro.
 
Smeltzer, an expert at Freedom House, a Washington-based NGO, points out that many Central and Eastern European leaders no longer pretend to dream of democracy and the rule of law.
 
"The conclusions we have come to are incredibly discouraging. We have found that leaders and politicians in the area are no longer hiding behind democratic facades. Their masks have fallen, and they are no longer hiding behind respect for nominal values ​​and are openly attacking democratic institutions, "Smeltzer emphasizes.
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