Politics

19 May 2019, 12:29 PM

May 19, 2019 - About 200 villagers in the valley of the Bukovica River and its surroundings, citizens from other Montenegrin regions and civil activists yesterday from the shore of the endangered river ordered the authorities to annul concessions for the construction of two SHPPs (two small hydroelectric power plants). Citizens have said that they will not give up the defence of the river and that they will not let investors build.

The local population again demonstrated the determination not to allow the placement of a river in the pipeline for the needs of SHPPs, which should be built by the cousin of the country's president, Milo Djukanovic, and his partner.
 
Citizens have been daily on the defence of the Bukovica River for several days. The protest began when, despite the opposition of the locals, works started on access roads, and, as it turned out, through the private property of the Zekovic family, for which there is no permit. The local population reacted quickly and prevented further works, but also alerted the public about the violence of investors, and announced the continuation of the day-long guards.
 

SHPPs in Montenegro - the violation of European and international conventions

 
The Green House NGO handed over a petition to the Montenegrin parliament on May 15 for asking for a moratorium on the construction of mini-hydroelectric power plants on the rivers in Montenegro. Green home Executive Director Nataša Kovacevic said they expect MPs to recognize the resentment of the citizens of Plav, Gusinje, Berane, Bijelo Polje, Niksic, Kolasin, Savnik and Andrijevica.
 
"The decades-long wild construction of energy facilities and the taking of water from the local population has to end," Kovacevic said in front of the parliament before the petition was submitted. She assessed that most of the current concessions for SHPPs were allocated without proper planning documents, strategic guidelines and precise data on potentials, as well as the impacts of the implementation of these projects on the environment.
 
Kovacevic said that in November last year the European Parliament assessed that most of the 80 SHPPs in Montenegro were not planned, nor were they built following international conventions and European legislation.
 
"The European Parliament requires the revision of all approved projects, concerning criteria of biodiversity value and necessarily implemented environmental impact assessments and citizens' participation in the decision-making process. Because of violations of European regulations and international conventions, there is a legal basis for all contracts to be terminated," Kovacevic said.
 
The petition is requested to stop further granting and renewal of energy permits based on requests already submitted, until a strategic environmental impact assessment of the cumulative effects of all approved SHPP projects is carried out.
 
By petition, citizens ask to initiate a judicial procedure for violation of the Law on Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment or non-implementation of a mandatory process for the development of a strategic impact assessment for a plan for the use of watercourses for the construction of small hydropower plants in Montenegro since 2016, but also due to the Law on Concessions.
 
NGO Green Home is Montenegrin partner within the Balkan network fighting against SHPPs- Balkan River Defence.
 

ODUPRISE Movement Calls for Action Against the SHPPs on Bukovica

 
"Citizens of the Savnik municipality, but also all those who are solidarity with them, for days prevent the passage of heavy machinery and keep a watch to preserve their greatest treasures - the river Bukovica. They are uprooting their estates, trails, and stagnant rivers, and they stand in the cold and say they will defend the river with life if necessary. Let's support them!" said the ODUPRISE movement.
 
"By the river, he came, who would be the next, family member - the cousin of the president from whom the citizens asked for their resignation three months ago. A cousin asked the local villagers if the river belongs to them. They usually think that everything in Montenegro, including our lives, is the property of only one man. This man, in their opinion, has the right to divide his feudal possessions among the family and not to look at the words of the locals. 
 
As the citizens of Beranselo won for their water, citizens of the Bar got the justice for their Cyprus park, citizens of Zabljak for their Black Lake, so Savnik will also preserve its Bukovica. Problems in local communities are the problems of all of us because it is evident that this system works against the interests of citizens," said the ODRRISE movement.
18 May 2019, 22:06 PM

May 18, 2019 - Delegates of the civic movement ODUPRISE returned from Brussels, where they stayed for several days. Movement representatives are satisfied with the messages they received there and expect support in their future activities, one of the ODUPRISE leaders, Dzemal Perovic, told TV Vijesti.

He said that the three-member delegation of the movement in Brussels had meetings with representatives from ten EU countries, including France and Germany, and received positive comments on the fact that in Montenegro they organized ten peaceful protests and managed to unite the opposition.
 
Perovic said that this was their first visit to Brussels. In the coming period, more intensive communication will be established, as representatives of the movement with interlocutors at the EU headquarters agreed to inform them of all examples of corruption in Montenegro intensively, violations of laws by powerful and captured institutions, allegations similar to the Envelope, as well as about their activities.
 
A few days ago, one of the leaders of the Democratic Front, Nebojsa Medojevic, said that it was not a good move that only representatives of the ODUPRISE movement should go to Brussels, as this move violates the plan on a joint delegation that would present the Agreement on the future to Brussels.
 
"DF strongly supported citizens' protests and joint action. One of the critical things is communication with the international community towards Brussels and the European Union. At a meeting with organizers of demonstrations, Goran Danilovic from United Montenegro suggested that a joint delegation for Brussels should go and that it should be composed by Dzemal Perovic and representatives of the two most influential opposition political groups DF and Democrats. Everyone accepted this initiative; we agreed. However, when Džemal Perović went to the EU Delegation meeting with Aivo Orav, they changed their minds, so they did not ask for a joint delegation meeting, but only the delegation of the ODUPRISE movement is going to Brussels," Medojević said in a statement for Novi TV from Herceg Novi.
After returning from Brussels, Perovic said to TV Vijesti that this visit was not the one planned with representatives of the opposition, explaining that a negative response from Brussels arrived, and they informed the opposition leaders about this.
 
Perovic told TV Vijesti that the protest of the ODUPRISE movement, scheduled for May 21 - Independence Day, will be modified, but did not specify what it would mean.
 
18 May 2019, 02:20 AM

17 May 2019 - Prime Minister Marković said that with the NATO membership, Montenegro has become part of the biggest security alliance; it is an equal partner to the most powerful and most developed countries in the world.

"The joint security framework means the investors have more confidence in Montenegro; this is an important advantage. Montenegro’s NATO membership is a signal to investors that this is a destination which enjoys the highest security standards, and that it shares the same values of partner countries, from which we wish to attract as many investors as possible. Our successful European integration shows that Montenegro is changing, that it is closer and more compatible with EU member states. We are harmonizing our entire system with the EU model and are adopting new standards, thus preparing our society for the time when we finally become a member," said Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković.

He also added that these are all signals for investors that Montenegro is a stable country, and that this is a society which is not wavering, but closely following the set strategic direction. The most important thing for investors is predictability. When it comes to Montenegro – everything is predictable – there are no surprises.

"We are on a good course, and we are steadily moving towards the set goals. The progress we have made in the European and Euro-Atlantic integrations confirm this. The great interest from prestigious investors after our joining of NATO further supports and solidifies this fact," he noted.

Furthermore, PM Marković spoke about Montenegrin competitive tax system, Government's programmes to encourage business development and infrastructure projects to make Montenegro more accessible and energy-safe.

"When it comes to physical infrastructure, we are creating strategic preconditions for an even stronger inflow of investments. We are finalising the first stage of the motorway, and we are planning to improve our airports through reliable foreign partners significantly, and we are finishing the submarine energy cable. This means that we are making Montenegro more accessible and energy-safe, and these are important preconditions for attracting quality investments," concluded Marković.

Source: The Luxury Collection

17 May 2019, 01:42 AM

16 May 2019 - Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Policy and Financial System Milutin Simović is in Vienna, where he met with President of the Austrian National Council Wolfgang Sobotka, Minister for the EU, Art, Culture and Media Gernot Blümel and members of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Parliament of Austria Martin Engelberg, Nikolaus Berlakovich, Gudrun Kugler and Hermann Gahr. 

At the meeting with President of the Austrian National Council Wolfgang Sobotka, both sides expressed satisfaction with the quality of the overall relations between Montenegro and Austria. DPM Simović thanked Sobotka for the strong and concrete support of Austria to Montenegro's European perspective and pointed out that such support, which comes from an influential EU member such as Austria, is of great importance to Montenegro.

"We believe the support will continue and be even more solid at the moment of Montenegro's accession to the EU," DPM Simović noted. 

Furthermore, Simović emphasised the importance of cooperation between the parliaments of the two countries for further improvement of bilateral relations, but also for further progress of Montenegro in adopting European standards and achieving further progress in meeting Montenegrin European agenda. The Deputy Prime Minister said that, as the former Vice President of the Parliament of Montenegro, he is very well aware of the importance of bilateral parliamentary cooperation and regular communication at this level in these processes. He also expressed satisfaction with the fact that, during Sobotka's official visit to Montenegro, in November last year, excellent parliamentary cooperation was established, through meetings at the highest level and meetings of governmental bodies. 

DPM Simović informed President Sobotka about the latest indicators on the growth of the Montenegrin economy and stressed the openness of the Government of Montenegro for cooperation with Austrian companies to increase the trade exchange between the two countries in the field of direct investments of Austrian investors in Montenegro. 

President Sobotka said that he always looks forward to meetings with Montenegrin officials. "Montenegro is progressing, implementing reform measures, I am familiar with its latest progress, which should be continued," Sobotka said, adding that Austria will continue to be Montenegro's reliable friend and partner that will provide strong support to its European perspective.

Montenegro and Austria European Union Accession Support1

At the meeting with Minister for the EU, Art, Culture and Media Gernot Blümel, Simović confirmed that Montenegro was and remains firmly committed to membership in the European Union. All decisions taken by the Government of Montenegro are carefully analysed from the position of qualitative contribution to further approximation to that main state goal. 

The fact that Montenegro opened 32 out of 33 negotiating chapters confirms that the country is on the right path, said the Deputy Prime Minister and added that it can be expected that the remaining negotiation chapter 8 - Competition will be opened this year, since Montenegro has already met all the requirements to open this chapter. 

Minister Blümel encouraged Montenegro to continue its path towards the EU. He confirmed that the Government headed by Chancellor Kurz attaches special attention to further integration of the Western Balkans.

"In a time when one country leaves the EU, it is very important that we send a message that the enlargement process is alive, that the idea of a united Europe is even stronger, and these messages will be confirmed by the further progress of Montenegro and the recognition of what Montenegro has achieved so far," Blümel said. 

At the meeting with Austrian MPs and members of the Foreign Policy Committee, Martin Engelberg, Nikolaus Berlakovich, Gudrun Kugler and Hermann Gahr, DPM Simović emphasised that Austria's role in the Western Balkans is very important. Montenegro expects to understand what the Western Balkans needs in terms of its European perspective and help in resolving conflicts that continue to burden the region, Simović said.

"In our region, certain economic stability can be noted, and in that part, Montenegro is a leader according to all parameters, but economic stability, progress and development are not possible without the political stability of the region," Simović stressed. 

The Deputy Prime Minister said that he deeply believes that European partners of Montenegro will pay extra attention to the Western Balkans, noting that the alternative does not exist. 

Simović informed Austrian officials that Montenegro's primary goal on its European path is to adopt and apply European standards, that is, the quality of implementation of European legislation is more important than the date of admission.

"We understand the current circumstances within the Union and we use this period to further focus on ourselves in the fulfillment of our obligations in meeting the European agenda. It is important to join, but at this point, it is even more important to adopt EU standards, European legislation, strengthen institutions, with the belief that this will be recognised by our numerous European friends and properly evaluated," Simović said. 

Austrian parliamentarians also confirmed the position of the Government of Austria that it always had a positive attitude towards EU candidate countries. They stressed that they also remember the period when Austria was a candidate country and that they understand the Western Balkans and Montenegro in that regard. 

Martin Engelberg said that Montenegro has a reliable partner and friend in Austria. Nikolaus Berlakovich noted that Austria has always tried to provide support to Montenegro. Undoubtedly, Montenegro will be a member of the EU and that is Austria's interest, Berlakovich added. 

MP Gudrun Kugler said that she was amazed by Montenegro's natural resources, country's culture and potentials in tourism, while MP Gahr showed interest in further plans on the development of tourism, attracting foreign investments and the impact of tourism on the growth of Montenegro's economy. 

MP Engelberg proposed cooperation at the level of governments and parliaments of the two countries in the area of training young staff and civil servants. 

During his visit to Vienna, DPM Simović met with our students in Austria at the Embassy of Montenegro.

"Montenegro needs new, modern knowledge, new technologies and skills, know-how, startups and entrepreneurial advancements in all areas," Simović concluded.

17 May 2019, 01:36 AM

16 May 2019 - The European Union must be more present in the public of the Western Balkan countries and must send clear messages to Montenegrin citizens about how much the EU invests in the development and their better lives, on a daily basis if necessary, Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković said in the German Federal Parliament - the Bundestag, where he talked with the MPs of the Committee on European Union Affairs.

"One discrepancy attracts attention, which at first glance can hardly be explained. The EU and Western countries are the largest investors and donors in the Western Balkans. We often hear voices from the region that the EU must be more present in the Western Balkans. And here's what it looks like in the last ten years: more than eight billion of investments, the trade has doubled and exceeds 49.5 billion. The EU is the main trading partner of the region and makes up 73% of its trade, and the region has increased its exports to the EU by 142%. Messages about the rule of law are not the only important messages that must be sent - but our citizen wants primarily to live better and feel those benefits. The EU must be more present in public in this regard and send clear messages to our citizens about how much they invest in our development and their better lives," Prime Minister Marković said in his address to the Committee.

The Prime Minister thanked Germany supporting Montenegrin reforms and said that Montenegro is looking forward to the growing interest and presence of investors from Germany, and that Montenegro wants Germany as a partner, but also as a model and objective observer of opportunities.

"We do not want a partnership with Germany just because of support and investment, but because of democratic values, including those that concern corporate and business standards to strengthen the domestic business culture that is still suffering the consequences of the old system," the Prime Minister said.

Speaking about the European integration process of Montenegro, PM Marković said that Montenegro is not calculating.

"Our orientation and course are clear. We are a country that, in all cases, joins the EU's common, foreign and security policy, which has proven to be a responsible member and a reliable ally in NATO," the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Marković said that the most important achievement of the Government of Montenegro in the past two years is economic growth that exceeded all expectations.

"You will not always find this data in the reports when it comes to Montenegro. To illustrate this claim, I will inform you about the results of economic policy in the last two years. We achieved growth rates at an average rate of 4.9 percent, almost in all sectors from tourism, energy, agriculture, industry, trade, which in the past was not the case. We reduced the unemployment rate by more than 6 percent and increased the number of employees by over 17,000. In the first quarter of this year, the parameters are already better than at the same time last year. For two years, we have been recording the stability of public finances and we are financing current spending from the original revenues. At this moment, Montenegro is a large construction site with very significant projects in the capital infrastructure and with a large inflow of foreign direct investments of over EUR one billion and five hundred million. We have halved the budget deficit and there is no fear for the sustainability of our public finances. Our goal is to ensure the continuity of such high growth rates, to achieve a budget surplus in 2020, to provide a declining trend in public debt, increase employment and standard of living," Prime Minister Duško Marković said at the Bundestag Committee on European Union Affairs.

Montenegro at Bundestag Committee on European Union Affairs1

The Prime Minister informed the Committee about the reforms implemented by Montenegro, with particular reference to the judiciary and the fight against organized crime.

"It is evident that organized crime loses the battle with the State, the institutions are getting stronger and more efficient. I want to thank your country for its support in strengthening the rule of law that will soon result in the sending of your experts to the Ministry of Justice and the Montenegrin police, which we had in the Ministry of Justice in previous years," PM Marković noted.

The judiciary has strengthened its capacities and raised the level of efficiency and promptness, PM Marković said and added that the last week's verdicts in the process of attempting terrorism or destabilization of Montenegro in order to deter it from its path to NATO proved that the judiciary is immune to external pressures and that it professionally performed its job in the most complex trial in the recent history of Montenegrin judiciary.

Speaking about the media scene, Prime Minister Marković said that the Government, within its jurisdiction, is doing everything possible to improve the environment, including the improvement of the legal framework, using expertise and counseling of the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

The Prime Minister concluded the address by saying that Montenegro is not a country that is threatened by its current challenges.

"Very strong facts prove this: we are a NATO member, the leader in the EU integration process, the exporter of stability and the fastest growing economy in the region. You will agree, however, that in the last twelve years, these results could not be achieved if the real situation was different or at the level of perception in certain important areas," Prime Minister Duško Marković stressed.

14 May 2019, 21:24 PM

May 14, 2019 - The civic movement ODUPRISE delegation travels on Wednesday, May 15th to Brussels, where they will stay until May 18th, but it is still not confirmed who of the European officials they will meet. In Brussels, they should present an Agreement on the future that they have signed with opposition MPs and, as they stated, ask for EU support resolving the political crisis in Montenegro.  

The delegation will be representatives of the movement Džemal Perović, Omer Šarkić, and Nikola Grdinić, while representatives of the opposition are not traveling to Brussels. At the previous meetings of the opposition leaders and the Movement ODUPRISE, it was agreed that this would be a delegation that included a representative of Democrats and Nebojsa Medojevic from the Democratic Front (DF).
 
At the last meeting, the Organizing Committee of the ODUPRISE movement discussed the platform of meeting with European officials, member of the Committee Dzemal Perovic told "Vijesti." They had previously requested a meeting with European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, but yesterday there was no confirmation that they would meet with him.
 
Due to the trip to Brussels, expected to be of great importance, yesterday's meetings with representatives of opposition parties were postponed, whose goal was to restore unity before the next protest scheduled for May 21st.
 
Representatives of the ODUPRISE movement had to meet separately yesterday with the leaders of the Democrats and the SDP to resolve the disagreements, but this was abandoned. According to Vijesti, Perovic announced a meeting with SDP President Ranko Krivokapic but later informed that the meeting was canceled.
 
The party of Aleksa Becic has previously refused an invitation to a joint meeting, complaining that it was a "non-legislative attempt to shift responsibility." Democrats then said that a meeting of leaders "who did not crush opposition unity and an agreement on the future" should be held.
 
"If the organizer of the meeting believes they should call SDP, Democrats will not attack them, but will not participate in it," said the Democrats to the ODRRISE movement. 
 
Becic refuses further co-operation with SDP over the decision to vote in Kotor for the dismissal of mayor Vladimir Jokic from Democratic Montenegro. After the SDP members with the Kotor opposition voted for the removal of Jokic, state-level opposition parties accuse them of cooperating with the regime. Becic then said that he would not sit with Krivokapic at the same table, while the ODRRISE movement noted that the SDP had excluded itself from the Agreement on the future. Krivokapic has meanwhile announced that he will not run for the party congress in June, but that the SDP remains committed to the Agreement.
 
Perovic told Vijesti that until the return from Brussels they will not meet with any of the opposition leaders and that after arrival they will decide on next steps. 
 
 
Source: Vijesti (Mila Radulovic, Samir Kajosevic)
13 May 2019, 23:08 PM

May 13, 2019 - Dritan Abazovic, the Civilian Movement URA leader, met in Berlin with Martin Weiss, a member of the Board of Directors of the Southeast European Society of the Federal Republic of Germany, one of the leading organizations for the analysis of Balkan policies, today announced URA.

During the meeting with Weiss, Abazovic thanked them for the permanent support that Germany provides to Montenegro, considering strengthening the friendship between the two countries as particularly important, but also warned of the latest political and legal crises in our country, URA states.
 
"After the biggest electoral affair in the history of modern Montenegro, marked by the name of "Envelope," mass protests began, the largest since gaining independence. Despite all the necessary evidence and video material that became viral, state institutions have once again proved that they are in the clutches of organized crime, which coordinates the very top of the wave," said Abazovic during the meeting.
 
Abazovic told Weiss that in the meantime, the first instance verdict was issued in Podgorica in the case of the "Coup," and, as he pointed out, the resolution of the political crisis has become even more complex and unpredictable.
 
"Since 2016, the entire opposition has been in the boycott, after which part has returned to parliament and if the authorities meet no condition. Now the two leaders of those subjects, who broke up the boycott, were sentenced to prison terms. It means that half of the opposition is in the boycott, and the other half is potentially (if the verdict is confirmed) in prison. The state prosecutor's office was involved in one case and ignored the high level of corruption. The president of the state does not know how much money he has on the cards. The National Television (RTCG) has become worse than in the time of Slobodan Milosevic while vast quantities of narcotics are seized on board the Army of Montenegro's ship. When to add all mentioned then everything indicates that we are in the institutional twilight," said Abazovic at a meeting with Weiss.
He said that the solution lays in the acceptance of citizens' demands from the "Agreement for the future," a more precise determination of pro-European forces and the creation of preconditions for the normalization of political circumstances that will lead to the preparation of the first fair elections in the history of Montenegro.
 
"Without it, Montenegro will continue to engage in a dictatorship, which is contrary to the interests of citizens, but also our international partners, especially the EU. Sooner or later it will become apparent to everyone. No one has the goal of having a private-owned state in the heart of Europe. It would undoubtedly open up the space for the interests of other centers of power that have anti-democratic plans for the region. Therefore, we must adopt standards differently and raise the level of political culture," concluded Abazovic.
 
He met in Berlin and with the deputy of the European Greens to Bundestag, Manuel Sarrazin. Speaking on the political and legal crisis in Montenegro, Abazovic warned that Montenegro is the only country in Europe in which power has never been removed. "We have to find the strength to do so, in Montenegro, there are potentials for a strong European alternative," Abazovic said Sarrazin.
 
One of the topics discussed with the Greens was the issues from the field of nature and environmental protection, and Sarrazin was particularly interested in the subject of the protection of Solana Ulcinj.
"For the example of Solana, whose protection and reconstruction is strongly supported by the Green Party group in the Bundestag, the scheme is explained for many other similar ventures of organized crime. We must break the concept of a private-owned state and captured institutions, we have the potential to become a successful European story, and it is, therefore, necessary to insist on alternatives. Political change is the only way to make the system democratic and just. We must never give up on that," said Abazovic during a meeting with Sarrazin.
 
They also pointed out that Abazovic and Sarrazin expressed readiness for URA and Greens of Germany to improve cooperation and intensify communication in the future. Greens' parliamentary group announced soon to visit Montenegro, they said from the URA.
12 May 2019, 23:02 PM

12 May 2019 - Minister of Foreign Affairs Srđan Darmanović delivered a speech at a ceremony marking Europe Day in Podgorica.

"Montenegro, which we have built together on the principles of civil society, its history and culture, the ideals of justice, equality and freedom, has long since belonged to Europe," Minister Darmanović said, adding that membership in the club of the most developed democracies today is the primary foreign policy priority of Montenegro.

"In the process in which we work patiently to achieve the standards of the European legal system and high principles of the rule of law - the process of European integration, our entire society takes part. By providing strong and convincing majority support to Montenegro's accession to the European Union, citizens show that this process is their choice and the way they want to go," said the head of Montenegrin diplomacy.

Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro Aivo Orav also spoke at the celebration in Podgorica. He said that Europe Day is celebrated each year in memory of the declaration of French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, which announced the project of reconciliation and unification in Europe, and a new form of political cooperation.

Europe Day in Montenegro EU Accession is Process of Entire Society1

Within today's celebration, the Foreign Minister also played a chess game with President of the European Chess Union Zarub Azmaiparashvili.

11 May 2019, 01:18 AM

10 May 2019 - Prime Minister Duško Marković hosted Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Miroslav Lajčák.

The meeting assessed that the cooperation between Montenegro and the OSCE is excellent and beneficial.

The Prime Minister thanked Lajčák for the assistance that the OSCE provides to Montenegro, saying that this cooperation helped Montenegro to strengthen the rule of law and build democratic institutions. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Lajčák pointed out that Montenegro is a reliable partner of the OSCE that fulfills its obligations and assessed that Montenegro's progress is visible both in the political and economic and developmental contexts. 

Both sides expressed readiness for further cooperation in the reform of electoral legislation, with the assessment that the dialogue should be continued in the appropriate parliamentary committee, with the OSCE's readiness to provide technical support to the continuation of the dialogue.

Furthermore, the two officials discussed the situation in the region and its European perspective, while Lajčák noted that Montenegro is an example of good regional cooperation and policy towards other countries in the region.

The Prime Minister expressed full support of Montenegro to the priorities of the Slovakian presidency of the Organization for Security and Co-operation, especially to multilateralism and conflict prevention.

Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, Ambassador Maryse Daviet and Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Montenegro Roman Hloben also attended the meeting.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro Srđan Darmanović recently met in Budva with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, Miroslav Lajčák.

09 May 2019, 23:48 PM

09 May 2019 - Montenegro's High Court on Thursday sentenced 13 people, including two Russian secret service operatives, up to 15 years in prison after they were convicted of plotting to overthrow the country’s government and prevent it from joining NATO.

Following the verdict, the Montenegrin government published an official statement, in which they explained that “the judiciary has shown adherence to the constitutional position of autonomy and resistance to every kind of pressure and external influence”.

“Montenegro, as a NATO member, shows that it is steadfast on the path of integration and protection of European values ​​and standards,” the government commented in a pair of posts on Twitter.

Two alleged Russian military intelligence officers who were accused of organizing the overthrow of Montenegro's government coup were convicted and sentenced in absentia. Chief Judge Suzana Mugoša said the two Russians, identified as Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, were convicted of “attempted terrorism” and “creating a criminal organization.”

Eduard Shishmakov was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison for creating a criminal organization and eight years in prison for attempted terrorism, for a total of 15 years in prison as a partially concurrent sentence. Vladimir Popov was sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison on each of the charges. Set up to be served as partially concurrent sentences; the length of Popov’s total sentence is to be 12 years.

Chief Judge Suzana Mugoša said that the Russians provided at least 200,000 EUR for the purchase of weapons. She said that Shishmakov and Popov tried to recruit “as many people as possible to come to the protest” and try to “change the electoral will” and “prevent Montenegro from joining NATO.”

Two leaders of Montenegro's opposition Democratic Front, Andrija Mandić and Milan Knežević, were sentenced to five years each. Mandić and Knežević have vowed to fight any attempt to imprison them because, as they said during a recent press conference, “they do not accept the arrest warrant”. They also added that “difficulties and consequences will be borne by those who come after them;" all the while warning of chaos if they are jailed after the verdict was announced.

"In this politically motivated and rigged trial, the insolence, superficiality, and obedience of the Montenegrin judiciary system was exposed,” it said in a statement by the DF leaders.

Montenegro's High Court found that the group had plotted to occupy the country's parliament during the 2016 parliamentary elections, assassinate then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and install a pro-Russian leadership.

"Each member of the criminal organization had a predetermined task and role, and in the operation of a criminal organization there was a willingness to apply violence and intimidation. All members were accountable and very well aware of their deeds, wanting them to be executed and knowing that their offense was unlawful," Mugoša explained.

09 May 2019, 16:35 PM

09 May 2019 - President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović met with President of Albania Ilir Meta in Tirana on the eve of the meeting between leaders of the Brdo - Brioni process.

President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović expressed satisfaction with the continuity of the high-level meetings, which enabled the further development of bilateral relations between two friendly neighboring countries.

"Montenegro and the Republic of Albania do not have open bilateral issues, and such dynamic bilateral cooperation can be used for further improvement of relations, as well as for joint support and encouragement to the reform processes in the Region, and its stability," said President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović.

Albanian President Ilir Meta, with the pleasure of strengthening friendly relations, especially highlighted the attitude of Montenegrin authorities towards the Albanian minority in Montenegro, as well as the joint commitment to resolving regional issues, which are a prerequisite for overall stability and further integration in the EU. Albania, together with the international community, counts on the constructive role of Montenegro and President Đukanović personally in resolving open issues and the process of further integration of the region.

The High officials emphasized the importance of the greater commitment and presence of the EU in the Western Balkans, which is crucial for the European perspective of all Western Balkans countries. In this context, they stressed the importance of the recent meeting in Berlin, assessing the positive agreement on the future meeting in Paris, which could result in progress in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, to the common good of the entire region.

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