30 Oct 2019, 16:42 PM

30 October 2019 - It is still uncertain whether Montenegro will open negotiating Chapter 8 – Competition policy, by the end of this year. Owing to the current circumstances in the EU, and especially after the opening of membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania had been delayed, the question is: What will happen with the enlargement process?

Montenegro has made considerable progress in the accession process and is seen as the next EU member. However, there is still a lot to be done. As far as Chapter 8 is concerned, Montenegro has already done what it was asked to do. It is the EU members’ turn now.

"Considering the current situation in the EU, it would not be very appropriate to predict when the negotiations in Chapter 8 will start," pointed out Biljana Jakić, director-general of the Directorate for Internal Market and Competition in the Ministry of Economy and a negotiator in Chapter 8.

She says it is important that Montenegrin institutions have been fulfilling defined tasks responsibly and devotedly and that all initial criteria for opening a new chapter have been established.

"The European Commission has set five criteria for opening this chapter. Those criteria refer to the changes in the legislation in the area of state aid; formation of an operationally independent body which will have all the necessary competences and resources required for the full application of state aid rules; harmonization of fiscal assistance schemes- Law on Corporate Income Tax, Law on Personal Income Tax, Law on Free Zones, programs of enhancement and promotion of business zones; list of all state aid measures and establishment of the action plan for the harmonization with other assistance schemes or other equivalent measures seen as incompatible with the duties stipulated in the Stabilization and Association Agreement. The last criterion referred to the adoption of the plan on restructuring Aluminum Plant Podgorica. It is not relevant anymore since Aluminum Plant has gone bankrupt," explained Jakić.

She adds that, concerning the set criteria, a whole set of legislative and institutional reforms have been implemented, writes CdM.

"In February 2018, a new Law on State Aid Control was adopted and it included all the required elements for efficient state aid control. Through amendments to the Law on the Protection of Competition, adopted at the beginning of 2018, competences of the Agency for Protection of Competition have been extended to the area of state aid control. In addition, in the area of financial assistance schemes, the legislative framework has been harmonized with the EU legislation," stressed out Jakić.

All the activities Montenegro has undertaken in this chapter indicate its readiness and commitment to meeting the requirements of the European agenda.

"Now the ball is in the EU court. We expect those results to be recognized and validated with the opening of this last chapter in the negotiation process," concluded Jakić.

Read more news about politics in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.

28 Oct 2019, 18:33 PM

28 October 2019 - Minister of Culture of Montenegro Aleksandar Bogdanović recently met earlier with Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan Republic Abulfas Garayev in Baku.

The meeting discussed possibilities of strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the field of culture, since the bilateral relations between Montenegro and Azerbaijan are friendly and content.

In this regard, the two officials expressed their satisfaction with the fact that the cooperation between cultural institutions are intensified. This, as it was highlighted, primarily refers to the joint work of the National Library of Montenegro "Đurđe Crnojević" and Azerbaijan National Library within the Conference of European National Librarians and Montenegro’s Cinematography and the Azerbaijan Davlat Film Fund.

Both sides particularly emphasised the significance of the work of the Cultural and Economic Centre of Azerbaijan in Podgorica, stressing that there is a mutual interest in organising diverse programs in the field of culture in the future.

Minister Bogdanović stated that so far, cooperation is a good basis for the coming period and invited Minister Garayev to visit Montenegro and on that occasion, as he added, to sign the Programme on Cooperation between Ministries of Culture of the two countries.

Minister Garayev highlighted that he supports the mentioned initiative, proposing that during his visit to Montenegro, a programme of joint activities in the field of culture should be conceptualised in detail. Furthermore, he emphasised that he was pleased that Azerbaijan artists were increasingly represented in Montenegro and expressed the expectation that Montenegro’s artists would be as present as possible on the Azerbaijani cultural scene.

Minister Bogdanović also discussed cooperation in the field of affirmation of the cultural heritage of the two countries. He pointed to the listing of the Azerbaijani rug on the UNESCO List of Intangible Heritage could be a useful experience for Montenegro, mainly since there is an initiative to apply for the development of Bihor rug on the list above, reports Ministry of Culture of Montenegro.

In this context, Minister Garayev stated that a presentation of Bihor rug could be organised at the Baku Museum of Carpeting, with the Azerbaijani entities fully ready to transfer experience regarding the application process of their rugs to the UNESCO list.

"During the discussion, we concluded that there is an exceptional space for strengthening cultural cooperation. It is of particular significance that the first steps in this field have already been made, but I believe that a period of intensive activities is yet to come. On this path, I suggested Minister Garayev sign the Cooperation Programme of our Ministries of Culture during his visit to Montenegro. Thus we formally start broad cooperation, starting with some common trades belonging to the intangible heritage of both countries, to film, literature and other fields," Minister Bogdanović noted.

Charge d' Affairs of Montenegro to Azerbaijan Željko Radulović also attended the meeting.

Read more news about politics in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.

25 Oct 2019, 13:29 PM

25 October 2019 - Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and the newly appointed Western Balkans Representative for the United States State Department, Matthew Palmer, recently stated that Montenegro is a leader in the region when it comes to EU accession, reports CdM. However, he also pointed out that Montenegro must remain very focused on the forthcoming period and try to accelerate activities to implement all the required reforms related to strengthening the rule of law and freedom of the media, and the fight against organized crime and corruption.

At the Senate hearing of the Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, Mr Palmer pointed out that the Western Balkans region needed the more active presence of the EU.

Speaking about Montenegro, Palmer said that the country is a regional leader, thanks to its peaceful, multi-ethnic society and rapidly growing economy.

“NATO accession in 2017 was a very important step forward for Montenegro”, Palmer concluded.

He also considered political circumstances in the region.

“While the USA supports desire of the nations and governments of the Western Balkans for safer, more prosperous and more democratic future, I can’t tell the same for all foreign actors acting in the region”, said Palmer and added that Russia’s intention “is to encourage divisions and prevent Euro-Atlantic integration of the region”.

Therefore, he says, the USA must increase their own engagement in the WB region. “Just sending messages isn’t enough. We must be more present and invest in the region,” said Palmer.

Serbia’s failure to recognize Kosovo is Moscow’s greatest trump card, thinks Mr Palmer. He sees Turkey as an important player in the Balkans, as Turkey regards the region as “its own yard”.

22 Oct 2019, 20:51 PM

22 October 2019 - President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović and his wife Lidija were guests at the enthronement ceremony Kyoen-no-gi which was hosted by Emperor Naruhito with Empress Masako for the highest officials at the Palace Reception.

The President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović also attended the ceremony of the enthronement of His Imperial Majesty Naruhito at the Seiden State Hall later, reported the Office of the President of Montenegro.

President Đukanović will be a guest at the Palace Reception after the Kyoen-no-gi ceremony, which is organized by Emperor Naruhito with Empress Masako for the highest officials.

The President will also attend a dinner with more than 170 delegations, led by Crowned Persons, numerous Heads of State and Government, United Nations and European Union representatives.

On the second day of his visit, President Đukanović will have a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Read more news about politics in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.

19 Oct 2019, 13:06 PM

19 October 2019 - President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović received Archil Talakvadze, the speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, who is visiting Montenegro.

President Đukanović welcomed the visit by the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, who continued the practice of continuous political communication between the two countries, which contributes to the strengthening of relations and the achievement of common goals. In addition to congratulations on his recent election at the position of the Parliament Speaker and the election of a new government, the President said that his visit to Tbilisi at the invitation of the President of Georgia, as well as the opening of consulates in Tbilisi and Bar, headed by honorary consuls, would be an incentive.

He emphasized that Montenegro appreciates Georgia's contribution to NATO's mission, and reaffirmed Montenegro's support for an open door policy.

President Đukanović also reminded that in addition to parliamentary cooperation, the two countries have good communication in the field of defense, and especially emphasized the importance of strengthening economic ties and promoting tourism cooperation.

Speaker of the Georgian Parliament thanked the President for his exceptional hospitality and stressed that he was impressed with Montenegro's achievements and strong leadership, which are an inspiration and encouragement for his country, government, and people. He reaffirmed his country's full commitment to partnering with the Alliance.

He stressed that President Đukanović's visit to Georgia would be a confirmation of political support for the country and an opportunity to discuss with the businessmen in the delegation the ways of strengthening economic co-operation and sharing of resources, reports Office of the President of Montenegro.

President of the Parliament of Montenegro Ivan Brajović also hosted a delegation of the Parliament of Georgia, headed by president Archil Talakvadze. On this occasion, Brajović pointed out in the meeting with the delegation that the visit was an additional impulse for strengthening ties and enhancing political dialogue at high and the highest level.

Read more news about Politics in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.

18 Oct 2019, 13:23 PM
October 18, 2019 - Prime Minister Dusko Markovic announced at a press conference after the Government session in Pljevlja that the Government would begin negotiations on the termination of concessions for the construction of small hydropower plants in several cities. In addition to this positive environmental news, the government session was marked by the unannounced arrival of ecological activists, with massive involvement of police forces and a minor incident.
"This program has undoubtedly provided a new impetus for electricity generation, but there have also been failures in this developmental momentum that would harm nature. In some cases, this development conflict would have missed its goal, which is to improve the quality of life and the development of local communities. It cannot flow separately from the preservation of a unique and healthy environment in these localities," Markovic said after the Government session.
"That is why the Government tasked the Ministry of Economy to start negotiations on the termination of the contract for the construction of a small hydropower plant on the Bistrica River in Bijelo Polje, then on the three rivers in Plavu-Murinska, Djuricka and Komaracka, as well as on Bukovica in Savnik and Trepacka River in Andrijevica," Markovic said at last night's press conference.
The unannounced arrival of environmental activists, dressed in ABHO suits and wearing gas masks on their heads, welcomed the Prime Minister and members of the Government in front of the Pljevlja Cultural Center, brought to the street the full composition of the police there.
Civilian inspectors prevented one of the activists of the NGO Alternative Pljevlja Ali Šljuk from approaching the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Kemal Purišić.
Milorad Mitrovic from the NGO Breznica said that the performance of environmentalists began well before the arrival of ministers, prime ministers, and members of the Government.
"Activists were holding a 'Danger - Contaminated Area' banner withdrawn signs of biological, radiological, and chemical danger. One activist was holding a mirror that was pointing at the direction of officials coming to the Government session at all times. They noticed activists in white, but pretended not to see them," Mitrovic said.
He said the activists had left after Dusko Markovic's cabinet members entered the building of the House of Culture, in which they held a session, but that the security remained until the session ended.
"The downtown, some streets, as well as the city garage, were closed to traffic. A lot of police forces and security personnel were accompanying the Government session. In front of the Cultural Center were Special Police units, civilian inspectors, officers of the Agency for National Security. The presence of the Security and Rescue Service and the ambulance were also striking. In front of the building were Dragan Slavulj, Chief of the Pljevlja Security Center, the Head of the National Security Agency Veselin Jolovic, and all members of the service. Environmental activists were probably the reason for such unusual security," Mitrovic said.
Mitrovic is one of the activists who has been fighting for months to prevent the realization of mini-hydro power plant construction projects, for which the Government of Montenegro has concluded concession contracts with investors, which it has now decided to indemnify.
Source: Vijesti
16 Oct 2019, 11:53 AM
Head of the European Union Delegation to Montenegro, Ambassador Aivo Orav, welcomed the agreement of political actors in Montenegro to hold the next local elections on the same day in all cities.
"There is a principle, and as agreed, that all local elections be held on the same day. That, if confirmed, would be excellent news," Orav said.
Speaking yesterday in Tivat at the opening of the 13th Joint Advisory Board of the European Committee of the Regions and Montenegro, Orav said that Montenegro must improve its reform efforts, especially in the area of ​​media freedom, the fight against corruption and the prevention of human trafficking.
"These reforms require the reflection and involvement of actors from all parts of Montenegro's political scene, as well as representatives of civil society. Parliament's boycott and lack of genuine political dialogue are not sustainable for a country negotiating its accession to the EU." Orav welcomed the establishment of the Comprehensive Electoral Reform Committee, which included representatives of the government and much of the opposition.
"Last week, the Committee adopted all the rules and criteria regarding its functioning, and this was a crucial moment in the removal and the last operational obstacles to starting concrete work on electoral reform. I sincerely hope that the Committee will now be able to focus on the substance of its work and deliver tangible results in the ambitious agenda for reforming the institutional and legislative framework for elections," Orav said.
The head of the EU delegation reiterated that Montenegro had made "some progress" in the accession negotiations. The priority now was to "deliver a much more tangible result to the rule of law system, "that will convince the EU that Montenegro is indeed ready to deal with this crucial issue in a European way."
"Progress in the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights in Montenegro is crucial, and it determines the speed of your entire EU negotiation process," Orav stressed.
Part of the political public in Montenegro, otherwise, believes that the EU, dissatisfied with the substantive simulation of reforms and especially the poor and selective functioning of the Montenegrin rule of law, has "raised the manual" in the accession negotiations with Podgorica, which have been ongoing for eight years. So far, our country has managed to open 32 and temporarily close only three of the 33 negotiating chapters with Brussels. Still, for more than a year, it has failed to open the last ones - Chapter 8 (Competition), negotiated for years.
"Montenegro has fulfilled all the prerequisites for opening the only remaining one - Chapter 8. I hope the Member States will make an affirmative decision, so the Montenegrin negotiating structure can devote itself to fulfilling the obligations leading to the temporary closure of the other chapters." Montenegro's chief negotiator with the European Union, Aleksandar Drljevic, said in Tivat today.
He reaffirmed "Montenegro's continued commitment to European values ​​and membership of the European community of peoples as the most important foreign policy goal."
"The results are in support of this since our country has achieved the highest number of candidates, and that we are at the forefront of enlargement, which carries with it a special responsibility," the head of the Montenegrin negotiating team said.
Text by Sinisa Lukovic
16 Oct 2019, 10:01 AM
October 16, 2019 - Vladimir Jokić, former Mayor of Kotor, addressed Montenegrin Prime Minister Duško Marković regarding his visit on Monday, October 14.
Mr. Markovic,
During yesterday's visit to Kotor, you stated a falsehood about how, despite your insistence, you did not have the opportunity to discuss important development issues with the previous local government, which allegedly cost both Kotor and Montenegro. During the two and a half years that I have been in charge of the Kotor municipality, you have received numerous letters from our local government on various issues. You never replied to any of these letters. When you were in the city twice during this period, you did not announce yourself or visit anyone from the local government. The only time you suggested the meeting was on the occasion of Kotor Municipality Day when you invited me to come to Podgorica to congratulate me at the Prime Minister's Office in Podgorica. I have already told you once before, and I will take this opportunity to reiterate that given the millennial history of Kotor, getting back to Podgorica to receive congratulations on the Day of Kotor would be a degradation of the history of the City at the expense of the government. I would never allow myself to do so. There is nothing worthy of the dignity of the City of Kotor. In the end, it's a matter of manners and a nice upbringing to congratulate the celebrator on his home.
Mr. Markovic,
What costs Montenegro and Kotor is the policy of the DPS and your government. Ask yourself why yesterday you only had the opportunity to visit the construction site of the Vrmac Hotel, in whose reconstruction neither the municipality nor the government participates in any way. That is why, Mr. Markovic, everything else in which the Montenegrin Government participates in Kotor looks like a ruin and is being built like a Shkodra on Bojana. Instead of promising tens of millions of euros in investments in Kotor, it would be more useful for everyone to answer a few questions I have for you, Prime Minister:
Why didn't you take a picture beside the Sports Hall that was supposed to be completed on May 17, 2011, over eight years ago? Why did you not explain to the citizens of the city that the works are eight years late and that the remaining obligations of the Government of Montenegro in this investment are two and a half million Euros and the municipalities one hundred thousand Euros?
Why didn't you take a picture beside the indoor pool "Niksa Bucin," reconstructed by the Government Directorate for Public Works? Why didn't you explain to the citizens of Kotor how the indoor pool, which was supposed to be renovated in 2017, is still not in use today?
Why didn't you take a picture in front of the settlement in Kostanjica when you have not even once stood up to help defend UNESCO status?
Who and when did you tell the truth that the construction of the Kotor-Njeguši cable car, the DPS Government in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2016, 2017, or you started yesterday?
Why did you violate the Constitution and laws of the state of Montenegro in June, overthrow its constitutional and legal order, and put the entire government in the service of the Kotor municipal committee?
Why did you censor the citizens of Kotor and not fulfill the legal obligation to dissolve the Municipal Assembly and call early local elections? What are you afraid of?
Mr. Markovic,
When you already landed a helicopter in Kotor to support your champions of breaking the law, you could also land and speak with ordinary people about the intense economic development of Montenegro. After these conversations, Mr. Markovic, you would certainly not fly so easily again. It is a clear intention to send a message on your appearance that it is illegal to take over the authority in Kotor under your auspices. I am sure that you, too, know that in this way, you cannot raise the popularity of your pulpits in Kotor, though neither you nor they will be able to escape the election and will of the citizens of Kotor for a long time. I believe that these scenes, from the third-class Hollywood action films, will not affect the judges of the Administrative Court and that they will consider the lawsuit submitted by legal officials of the municipality as soon as possible. Following these judgments, Mr. Markovic, I will welcome you to Kotor as the Mayor, if you bring with you the answers to these questions. I hope you will regret it then, and you have not met me. Fortunately, in this case, I have no such feelings.
Vladimir J. Jokić
16 Oct 2019, 01:22 AM

15 October 2019 - Montenegro has made serious progress on its path to the European Union and will be its next member, said new European Parliament rapporteur for Montenegro Tonino Picula, reports Fena News Agency.

According to Picula, Montenegro will be the first in line as a new EU member state, but there’s still a lot to do until then. The EU has been facing numerous issues and it seems that the enlargement policy is not its top priority. Some EU member states clearly state that now is not the time to speak about the enlargement, which calls the whole story about the expected 2025 enlargement into question.

In an interview for CdM, the newly-elected European Parliament Rapporteur on Montenegro Mr Tonino Picula claimed the enlargement policy hadn’t been the EU’s topmost priority anymore. He said that some EU member states categorically refuse further EU enlargement until the Union consolidates.

“No one will state loud and clear to be against the enlargement, it’s a part of a political game, but there’s a strong resistance within the EU member states, that is, they do not want the enlargement to happen until the rearrangement of power relations takes place, and some new models are adopted,” Mr Picula explained.

"In any case, the next enlargement of the Union, when it happens, will not occur without Montenegro. Whether Montenegro will enter alone or with another country is an open question. Still, if it continues this kind of work as it has done for ten years, then the next expansion will not be possible without Montenegro, "Picula said in an interview with Nova M. He said that the work that Montenegro has done so far must be noted, but it must also continue with reforms and next projects, because if there is no further progress, it can lead to serious frustration for both sides.

He also added that the enlargement policy reached a peak in 2004 when ten new states joined the EU and in 2007 – when Bulgaria’s and Romania’s accession took place.

Mr Picula continued: “Currently, the enlargement policy is not one of the EU’s top priorities as the Union needs to consolidate itself first.”

"Montenegro has procedures in place, mechanisms to move forward with the conclusion of the negotiations, but what has not been done so far will have to be done in circumstances that will not always be easy. At the moment, the political scene in Montenegro is polarized; there are serious disagreements between the authorities and the opposition on how to proceed. However, I will try to overcome this gap with my experience in order to reach a common goal - Montenegro's membership in the EU, "Picula concluded.

Read more about politics in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.

12 Oct 2019, 15:02 PM

12 October 2019 - Moody's credit rating agency has affirmed the B1 credit rating for Montenegro, while retaining a "positive" outlook.

The credit rating is the result of high GDP per capita, optimistic prospects for EU accession, and a strong investment trend with a focus on foreign direct investment. The latest Moody's report welcomes significant investment projects implemented in the transport, tourism and energy sectors.

Furthermore, the B1 credit rating justifies the strong middle-term growth potential, supported by the implementation of adequate structural reforms, as well as the implementation of the Government's effective measures that contribute to strengthening Montenegro's fiscal position. In addition, specific Government activities have been identified that have reduced the medium-term refinancing risks in Montenegro.

The main drivers of growth are evident in the construction, transport, tourism and energy sectors. The growth was also stimulated by public investment, above all, by the construction of the priority section of the Bar-Boljare motorway, reports Government of Montenegro. On the other hand, a significant contribution to the growth was also made by household consumption, fueled by a record-breaking tourist season and positive developments in the labour market, where in the second quarter of 2019, the unemployment rate was at a historically low level of 14,3%.

The report states that 2019 will be another record-breaking year in the tourism sector, in line with an increase in arrivals for the period January - August of 17.2% and overnight stays of 9.2%, compared to the same period last year.

Finally, the report praises the legal and administrative reforms that are being implemented, especially in the context of accession to the European Union, which is a further impetus for the advancement of the rule of law while continuing to strengthen the capacities of the institutions in the coming years.

Read more news about politics in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.

11 Oct 2019, 09:48 AM
October 11, 2019 - The Montenegrin government has sent a protest to Albania over the latest environmental accidents in the Bojana River watershed, which, according to the government, threaten the image of this prestigious tourist destination.
"Following good-neighborly policy, the Government of Montenegro, consistently insisting on the implementation of all international conventions, in constant communication with the Albanian side.
The protest of the Government of Montenegro came after the competent, at the invitation of concerned residents of Ulcinj, toured the ground and found that the corpses of dead hens, cows, and pigs were floating on the Bojana River.
The director of the Food, Veterinary, and Phytosanitary Affairs Directorate, Vesna Dakovic, who coordinated the action on the field, said on Wednesday that everything was a cross-border problem. That is, animals originating in neighboring Albania are dead; since in the broader area, there are no poultry farms on the Montenegrin side.
"It is evident that the problem is cross-border in nature. The results of the laboratory analyses of the samples showed that the poultry was not infected with any disease that could be transmitted to humans. Still, it was isolated Salmonella, which affects the poultry and from which the chickens were most likely killed," Dakovic said.
It was planned to start the action of collecting waste from water immediately. It is estimated that several days will be required to obtain this waste when visiting the upper stream of the river".
The protest was addressed to the Albanian side on the initiative of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Policy and Financial System, Milutin Simovic, and Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Pavel Radulovic.
"Accordingly, the Montenegrin side is obliged to inform all its international partners, which will be done in an emergency official procedure," the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism said in a statement.
Recall that the first incident of this kind was officially reported on September 30, 2019. On that occasion, the inspector took samples from the field and sent for analysis to determine that the quantity found had been harmlessly removed.
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