Politics

09 May 2019, 00:21 AM

08 May 2019 - The EU needs to integrate the Western Balkans quickly to safeguard its future as well as protect the buffer region from Russian and Chinese influence, Montenegro's president Milo Đukanović said on Wednesday.

Pro-European Union Đukanović is his country's longest-serving politician. He led it into NATO in 2017 and is steering its EU membership bid in the face of fierce Russian opposition.

Moscow, through politics, and Beijing, via loans, aims to "prevent NATO and EU expansion in the Balkans," Đukanović told Reuters in an interview.

That meant the region needed to be "the zone of the European Union's responsibility and its strategic interest".

"Unless the EU realises that, I am afraid its future might be in jeopardy," he said, speaking a day before verdicts are due in the trial of alleged participants in a 2016 coup plot against him.

Out of six Western Balkans' EU aspirants, the tiny Adriatic state and neighbouring Serbia are next in line to join, though neither is likely to become an EU state in the foreseeable future.

They have been told they must root out organised crime, corruption and nepotism and reduce red tape first, and the political elite in both countries is deeply divided between pro-EU and pro-Russia camps.

Both governments have this year faced a wave of protests over alleged corruption, cronyism and abuse of office.

Meanwhile, the EU is cutting funding to the Western Balkan countries along with the World Bank and other western lenders, leaving China to fill the gap.

"Third parties, such as Russia and China, are making gains due to a lack of a concrete EU activity in the region," he said, citing enlargement fatigue and internal political tensions as factors in the latter's shift towards a more hands-off approach

A Chinese loan for the first phase of a new highway link with Serbia has sent Montenegro's debt soaring and forced its government to raise taxes and partially freeze public sector wages to get its finances in order.

"Why don't the European financial institutions offer the same conditions," said Đukanović, defending the deal.

He said that reforms he was trying to pursue - including structural ones to maintain strong economic growth - had led to protests, but said foreign powers had also played their part.

The 2016 election day assassination plot that Đukanović survived was designed to bring a pro-Russian party to power.

"Divided societies are the remnants of the wars of the 1990s. The politics of nationalism has been defeated but not buried, and some of these people are trying to revive it and cannot accept the fact that our place is in the EU," he said.

Source: Reuters (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; editing by John Stonestreet)

08 May 2019, 23:50 PM

08 May 2019 - The EBRD held its 2019 Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Sarajevo on 7-8 May, throwing a spotlight on the economic opportunities in the Western Balkans, where the EBRD is a major investor.

About 2,000 delegates attended the conference, which focused on the business outlook for Western Balkan economies and on how growth in the region can be strengthened. The leaders of the six Western Balkan nations – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia – attended the conference, taking part in a high-level panel discussion that underscored the importance of regional cooperation.

Regional cooperation and integration played a key role at the Annual Meeting and Business Forum, where the theme this year was Connecting Economies for Stronger Growth. Particularly in the Western Balkans, the EBRD has placed a very high priority on promoting connectivity via its investments, to promote both physical infrastructure links as well as ties between markets that strengthen trade and improve the business climate as the countries continue on their path towards EU approximation.

The EBRD is a leading investor in the Western Balkans, providing a record level of finance of €1.1 billion in 2018, and supporting their economies’ goal of membership of the European Union.

The EBRD expects continued steady economic growth in the six Western Balkan countries in 2019, despite a cooling international economic environment which may see the pace of growth slowing in some countries in the region.

Presenting its latest economic forecasts at the EBRD’s Annual Meeting in Sarajevo, the Bank reports that Montenegro and Serbia were the fastest growing economies in the region in 2018, with both countries enjoying strong investment flows.

Commenting on the regional outlook, EBRD Lead Economist Peter Tabak said further reform efforts and stronger investment activity are needed to deliver growth required for sustainable convergence with European Union income levels. “Stronger regional integration, including through the abolition of remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade would open up new growth opportunities for domestic companies and foreign investors,” he added.

In Montenegro, growth surprised on the upside. In 2018, the economy expanded by close to five per cent, on the back of highway construction, real estate projects at the coast, an exceptionally strong tourism season and a further rise in private consumption.

As concluded at the Annual Meeting, the completion of large investment projects and continuing fiscal consolidation will lead to a significant slowdown in growth to 2.8 per cent in 2019 and 2.6 per cent in 2020.

The Annual Business Forum provided a platform for high-level discussion on themes ranging from boosting small business to the effects of migration on labour markets, the opportunities and pitfalls of tourism and ways to connect local and regional economies to the wider global economy.

Source: EBRD

08 May 2019, 17:40 PM

May 8, 2019 - At the tenth civil protest ODUPRISE, the organizers condemned Luko Kaznic (Onion Punishment), with a doll representing the state's special prosecutor, Milivoje Katnic, for life-long ban from public life, and burned it in front of the building of the Presidency. Organizers joined a large number of free citizens to "sow together the seeds of freedom, and once again said that there is a lot of injustice and that continuous resistance is a prerequisite for common sense!".

One of the organizers of the protest, Nikola Grdinić, said that the protests were a struggle for every man in Montenegro, saying that state institutions were captured. "Justice has been captured by one man who holds the entire system of government. He supported the coup in Venezuela, and a process is being conducted here which is an insult to the minds of all citizens of Montenegro, "Grdinić said and urged everyone in the judiciary to "care about careers and profession."
 
"Instead of celebrating 9 May, they disguised the Day of Victory over Fascism. It is not a state that takes care of all citizens," Grdinić said.
 
"Milo supported the coup yesterday in Venezuela, and a state coup is being held here, which is an insult to the minds of every citizen of Montenegro. We will send a message to everyone in the judiciary to take care of their careers. Do not be silent on 9 May. Those who hold power in Montenegro have disguised the Day of Victory. There is no surrender," Grdinić concluded.
 
Nikola Rakovic, a former KAP employee, said that it was clear that, for 30 years, the corrupted system was plundering and destroying workers and the Montenegrin economy, adding:
 
"The rest is our salaries, contributions. That's how 400 pensioners finished on the Street. We are left with both the state and the work unions. Djukanovic and Markovic should resign. The government did not meet the demands of the KAP workers, although they were obliged by law to do so. But they use the law when and how it responds to their interest."
 
Momo Joksimovic, a representative of pensioners, pointed out that they are those who built this country, but today they barely survive. He added that the unification of the opposition was the mainstay of these protests, and concluded:
 
"Pensioners with empty pockets and empty refrigerators are humiliated, sad and unhappy - they die at rates. We are seeking free medicine for pensioners, increasing the lowest pensions, free transportation and other benefits that belong to us."
 
"The opposition has united, so the success of this movement is guaranteed. The only solution is the Street," said Joksimovic.
 
After addressing Joksimovic, an indictment against Luka Kaznic, a symbol of crushing Montenegrin justice was read before a citizens' court.
 Kaznic is charged because war criminals are staging Montenegro, not being prosecuted even those responsible for deportations of Bosnian refugees in the latest civil war. "He is charged for the "stroke" on the leaders of the Democratic Front and all citizens of Montenegro who were prevented to vote on 16 October 2016. He is also charged because he has not even distant suspicion about the involvement of a high representative's sister in corruption in the Telekom affair, even though this corruption is seen even from America," the indictment alleges.
 
Demonstrators hoisted papers stating "guilty" and charged Kaznic because of dozens of indictments for murder in the clearing of criminal clans whose victims and casual passers-by were not raised. They said that Kaznic was charged with overcrowding cases of high corruption and money laundering "especially in the case of Piraeus Bank and the first million of Milo Djukanovic."
 
"He is also charged with political corruption marked in an envelope handed to the mayor of Podgorica, Slavoljub Stijepovic, seen by all citizens, except the prosecutor," the indictment alleges.
 
The inexorable court of the people proclaimed Luka Kaznic guilty on all counts of the indictment and sentenced him to life-long removal from public life. After the judgment, the assemblies went towards the building of the president. One of the organizers of the protest announced that the president of Montenegro would be pronounced a verdict identical to Kaznic's.
 
protest savo prelevic kaznic
 
The protesters walked by the building of the Presidency, the Government and the Parliament last night. In front of the Prosecutor's Office, they threw papers stating "Guilty" while transferring Kaznic's doll over a fence out of the Montenegrin President's building and then set on fire. Participants scandalized "Milo Thief," "We are the State" and "Everyone on the streets," and during the protest walk there were no incidents.
 
As before, police forces were deployed in front of government buildings. At the tenth protest meeting, the leaders of the majority of opposition parties were also present. The next protest ODUPRISE was scheduled for 21 May.
07 May 2019, 10:36 AM

May 7, 2019 - Under the conditions of non-functioning of the institutions of the system, citizens are the supreme prosecutor and judge, they said from the ODUPRISE movement ahead of the protest scheduled for today (Tuesday, 7 May) at 8 pm on the platform in front of the Montenegrin Assembly in Podgorica.

The organizers said that they wanted to say once more with a new set of messages that "there is a lot of injustice and continuous resistance is the precondition for maintaining a healthy mind".
 
"They once told us that they did not know who was behind the protest and that we are enraging people to go out on the Street. We already told them that we are on the Street to react to the catastrophic thirty-year policy of DPS and its satellites, and really misguided the injustice, selective justice, crime, corruption, the inefficiency of state institutions, and the undeniable tone that responds to the legitimate demands of citizens from those we pay to work for us. They are the state occupiers, "they said from the ODUPISE movement.
 
They once again emphasized that they believed the Street was the only independent institution in Montenegro.
 
"On Tuesday, from the only independent institution - from the Street - we should all together announce caricatures from the top of the Prosecutor's Office that we want an independent judicial system as a prerequisite for the realization of the rule of law. In the conditions of dysfunctional institutions, citizens are the supreme prosecutor and judge - our voice is the most important voice - let's tell them they do not do their job properly, and that's why they have to leave! Let's go because we want responsibility; we want justice, the free judiciary and the prosecution; we want a state that is equally treating all its citizens. We can only fight for it together. They call on us to plant onions, but we are on the Street to sow the seed of freedom, for this and all future generations, "they said from the ODUPRISE movement, inviting citizens to join them at the tenth protest gathering in Podgorica.
 
The protest of the ODUPRISE civil movement began by gathering in front of the State Prosecutor's Office building in Podgorica on 2 February. Citizens seek the establishment of the rule of law and resignation of President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, Supreme State Prosecutor Ivica Stankovic, Special Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic, Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency Sreten Radinjić, and General Director of Public Media Service of RTCG Božidar Šundić and the RTCG Council.
 
Beside the core document- The Declaration of Free Citizens, the ODUPRISE movement initiated the Agreement on Future, which signed all the 39 opposition deputies of the Assembly of Montenegro, promising to fight together for fundamental system changes and terminating the DPS rulling, lasting for three decades now.
07 May 2019, 01:19 AM

05 May 2019 - At the end of a two-day stay in Arizona, President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović met with Arizona State Prosecutor Marko Brnović in Phoenix on his initiative.

Being informed that Đukanović participated in the Sedona Forum, Brnović expressed his wish to meet with the President. In an open and hearty conversation, Brnović informed Đukanović about his Montenegrin roots, pointing out that he is proud of his origins, which he also transferred to his family, with whom he regularly visits Montenegro.

He is also a distinguished lawyer, as well as his wife, a federal court judge, appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.

Knowing the reason for the President's stay in Arizona, he also informed him about his contacts with Senator McCain, who, Brnović said, greatly respected Montenegro and Đukanović personally.

The next meeting is planned for this summer when the Brnović family plans to visit Montenegro.

During his stay in Arizona, the President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović spoke at the panel on "Why is US Leadership Still Important?", whose introductory was made by former Arizona State Senator Jeff Flake. In addition to President Đukanović, panelists were John Rood Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island. Former Senator Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire moderated the discussion.

On that theme, President Đukanović referred to the historically important role that the United States played in the Western Balkans in the nineties and apostrophized the importance of maintaining US attention to the region, together with the EU, to successfully resolve open issues that burden its European and Euro-Atlantic path. He drew attention to the growing challenges facing the North Atlantic Partnership in the modern era, to the significance of Euro-Atlanticism for America, Europe, and the whole world, and called for determination in defense of the Euro-Atlantic system of values.

06 May 2019, 12:20 PM

May 6, 2019 - The US organization Freedom House classified Montenegro as a partially free state and assessed that President Milo Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) used an extensive network of corruption, including allegedly linked organized crime, to remain in power for nearly three decades.

The influential organization of Montenegro, in the report "Freedom in the World", gave a score of 65 out of 100 possible. The report states that in Montenegro voters are generally free to express their political choices, but also an extensive system of protection and widespread corruption encourages loyalty to the ruling party.
 
"Many members of the ruling party have alleged links to organized crime, which cement the DPS in power. Employers in the public and private sector, associated with the state, press jobs to vote for a ruling coalition. The marginalized population, such as Roma, is mobilized by DPS through purchasing votes," the document states.
 
"Djukanovic has been using enormous power for decades, through the functions of the prime minister and the president, but also the president of DPS when he was out of government. He maintains extensive control over most public institutions. Although under the Constitution of Montenegro the parliamentary system of government, the Assembly adopted a new law after Djudanovic won the presidential elections in 2018, which significantly extended his presidential mandate," the report adds. It is also stated that Djukanovic concentrated the power in his hands. Corruption and placement of close men to functions are, according to the report, widespread, although modest attempts by the authorities to choose these phenomena.
 
The report states that efforts to strengthen the independence of the judiciary are continuing, but that it remains sensitive to the pressure of the government and that corruption in the judiciary remains a problem for Montenegro.
 
It is alleged that during the trial of two heads of the Democratic Front (DF) Andrija Mandic and Milan Knežević for attempting a state strike and that the outcome of their cases will show the level of transparency, openness and accountability in the court system.
 
Freedom House states that the DPS-led government relentlessly works to delegitimize political activities that are inconsistent with their policy, characterizing a different strategy as a threat to the state and the public order.
 
It also reminds of the arrest of DF deputy Nebojsa Medojevica's refusal to testify. The state sector, the report adds, dominates the economy and clientelism and corruption is a barrier to regular business.
Domestic violence, according to the document, remains a problem, and women are insufficiently politically represented, both politically in general and in terms of leading positions in parties and institutions.
 
The problem remains, as alleged, trafficking due to prostitution and forced labour, but it is also noted that the US Department of State has pointed out that the Montenegrin government has intensified efforts to persecute smugglers.
 
In addition to the overall rating of 65, Freedom House has opted for freedom in Montenegro with 3.5 of the possible seven, political rights with four out of seven, and civil liberties with three out of seven.
Freedom House classified partially free countries as also Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Croatia and Slovenia are part of the free states.
 
The opposition in Montenegro is, according to the esteem of Freedom House weak and divided.
 
"The observers noted that the line between the party structure of the DPS and government institutions was unclear, making the opposition even worse off. While many parties overwhelm the elections, the opposition is divided and weak and often boycotts political processes. The opposition party's position is even worse in 2018 when they suffered defeats at both presidential and local elections," the report said.
 
The American organization has estimated that media reporting in Montenegro is often party and warlike.
 
It adds that the government often does not allow contracts for oppressive media.
 
 
It is added that journalists covering corruption and organized crime in danger of violence are reminded of injuring "Vijesti" journalist Oliver Lakić for reporting fraud in the government elite.
 
Freedom House reminds of the dismissal of RTCG director Andrijana Kadije and states that human rights organizations have denounced the removal by saying that it was a DPS move that they wanted to take control of the Public Service after showing greater objectivity and independence during 2017.
 
Text by Darvin Muric
 
06 May 2019, 00:38 AM

05 May 2019 - On the second day of the Sedona Forum, President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović spoke at the panel on "Why is US Leadership Still Important?", whose introductory was made by former Arizona State Senator Jeff Flake. In addition to President Đukanović, panelists were John Rood Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island. The discussion was moderated by former Senator Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire.

Opinions on the importance of the American leading role in defending democracy and achieving prosperity and security in the world were shared, as well as ways to preserve the Euro-Atlantic advantage in global and regional geopolitical matches.

On that theme, President Đukanović referred to the historically important role that the United States played in the Western Balkans in the nineties and apostrophized the importance of maintaining US attention to the region, together with the EU, with a view to successfully resolving open issues that burden its European and Euro-Atlantic path. He drew attention to the growing challenges facing the North Atlantic Partnership in the modern era, to the significance of Euro-Atlanticism for America, Europe, and the whole world, and called for determination in defense of the Euro-Atlantic system of values.

Immediately after the panel discussion, President Đukanović handed over posthumously the Order of Montenegrin flag first degree to Senator McCain's wife Cindy McCain, who was awarded for a remarkable contribution to Montenegrin independence and the achievement of key foreign policy priorities of Montenegro, primarily NATO membership. President Đukanović recalled, among other things, the words of Senator McCain that the Montenegrin independence referendum was perhaps the most important democratic project in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also pointed to the senator's implicit understanding of the security and political challenges facing Montenegro and the Western Balkans.

"He encouraged us to be a bright example for the region and to continue to promote the ideals of Western civilization and transatlantic values," said Đukanović.

Receiving the Order, Mrs. McCain thanked the President for the fact that Montenegro cherished the memory of Senator McCain and pointed out that he was always a great friend and supporter of the Montenegrin people and Montenegro.

"Thank you for honoring his life, and for continuing the ideal he advocated for," said McCain.

At the margins of the Sedona Forum, President Đukanović had a series of informal meetings with senators, congressmen and other participants of the Forum.

06 May 2019, 00:29 AM

04 May 2019 - President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović attended the opening of the "Sedona Forum" in the town of Sedona, at the invitation of Kurt Volker, executive director of the "McCain Institute for International Leadership" on his first day in Arizona.

The Forum was opened by the Executive Director, Volker, who recalled that this significant security-political event, organized for the seventh time, traditionally brings together political leaders, thinkers and business and academia representatives, with the aim of seeking answers to all the more serious modern challenges in the world.

He stressed that this year the responsibility of the participants is greater, as the forum for the first time will not hear thoughts from the man who inspired it, as Senator McCain passed away last year. At an official dinner for leaders, where President Đukanovic was among the most distinguished guests, participants paid respect to the deceased senator, while guests were welcomed by the governor of Arizona Doug Doucey and the rector of the State University of Arizona Dr. Michael Crow.

President Đukanović had an open and very contentful bilateral meeting with the executive director Kurt Volker, who conveyed the greetings of the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, as well as the support for Montenegro in addressing the challenges facing Montenegro on the road to achieving strategic goals.

The President informed Volker about current processes in Montenegro, the massive results achieved following the renewal of independence on the internal and international plan as well as projections for further economic and democratic development and progress in the negotiation process with the European Union.

The interlocutors also exchanged views on the current situation in the region and agreed on ways to tackle the remaining open issues, with the assessment that the presence and joint action of the European Union and the United States of America are crucial for this as well as for the European perspective of the region.

Otherwise, calls to the "Sedona Forum" are addressed to a limited and selected number of participants, and discussions on all issues are of a closed type and can not be cited and published.

04 May 2019, 18:15 PM

This year’s Sedona Forum was opened by Mr Volker, who reminded the participants that this extremely significant security and political event, organized for the seventh time, traditionally gathered the political leaders and representatives of the business and academic community, to seek a response to tough and major challenges in the world.

President Đukanović also attended the special gala dinner along with the most respected high officials and was welcomed by the Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey and the President of Arizona State University, Dr. Michael M. Crow.

President Đukanović also attended the special gala dinner along with the most respected high officials and was welcomed by the Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey and the President of Arizona State University, Dr. Michael M. Crow.

Mr Đukanović had a bilateral meeting with Mr Kurt Volker, who conveyed greetings of the U.S. State Secretary, Mike Pompeo, and expressed his support to Montenegro in facing challenges on its road to achieving strategic goals.

During the meeting, President Đukanović put forward the current events in Montenegro and also talked about significant results that the country has achieved since the renewal of its independence, both – on the internal and the international level. He also mentioned the projections for the further economic and democratic development of Montenegro and progress in the negotiation talks with the European Union.

They both exchanged opinions on the current situation in the region and agreed on the method for resolving the remaining open issues, noting that the situation itself and the European perspective as well, needed joint action of the EU and the USA.

“Moreover, the Sedona Forum is invitation-only and discussions on all issues are held at closed meetings, that is, they cannot be cited or published,” Đukanović’s office concluded in a statement.

Text by CdM on May 4, 2019, read more here

02 May 2019, 23:42 PM

02 April 2019 - Minister of Internal Affairs of Montenegro Mevludin Nuhodžić is participating in the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue "Building Dialogue into Action against Discrimination, Inequality and Violent Conflict", which is being held in Baku on 2 and 3 May 2019.

As stated by the official UNESCO report, the Forum is organized under the patronage of H.E. Mr Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in cooperation with Task Force members: UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, the UN World Tourism Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). Expected participants include heads of governments, ministers, heads of various international organizations, senior policymakers, cultural professionals, goodwill ambassadors, experts, journalists, practitioners, prominent intellectuals and activists.

Minister Nuhodžić Participates in the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue 3

The Forum will examine the critical role of Intercultural Dialogue as an actionable strategy for building human solidarity and helping localities counter the violence and discrimination in diverse communities.

The Forum aims to be an international platform to enable and encourage people, countries, and organizations to advance concrete actions to support diversity, dialogue and mutual understanding as foundations for sustainable peace and inclusive development.

Minister Nuhodžić Participates in the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

This edition of the Forum seeks to serve as a comprehensive platform to better understand the drivers and benefits of intercultural dialogue as an instrument for addressing some of the pressing challenges of our time, including rising discrimination, growing inequalities and increasingly prevalent violent conflict. In doing so, it hopes to catalyse impactful collaborative actions, the implementation of which will be supported in the two years leading up to the next Forum.

During the first day of the World Forum, Minister Nuhodžić has met with the Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ramil Usubov and head of the State Migration Service Vusal Huseynov.

01 May 2019, 04:49 AM

30 April 2019 - President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović stressed the importance of uncompromisingly meeting standards and implementing reforms for EU membership because only then all future members would feel more comfortable at the meeting with the leaders of Western Balkans countries, France and Germany in Berlin.

Đukanović added that he also pointed to the fact that the EU must remove some disagreement in its attitudes.

"The meeting itself was valuable because it marked the phase in which two key countries, Germany and France, would give a more significant mark to the further integration of Western Balkan countries. It was a chance for all of us who participated in noting the importance of this process from the perspectives of our states," Đukanović said.

Đukanović says he also insisted that the EU should have a clear action plan to address some key deficits, which, when removed, will create conditions for full integration.

"I primarily mean the infrastructure deficit. It is important to help people from the Western Balkans to see the European perspective more clearly. The same is with companies from our countries, but also investors to invest their capital and help us hire more people. Also to help us provide enough jobs, high enough growth rates, and to help us eliminate the deficit in the quality of knowledge," said Đukanović, adding that it would be worthwhile, in cooperation with the most developed European countries, to secure the opening of new schools and to make our people and new generations competitive on the European market.

President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović recently hosted Christian-Democratic Union Member of Bundestag Christian Schmidt. By this opportunity Đukanović reminded of the importance of continuation of the European path for the stability of the region, insisting on further intensifying mutual co-operation, determination to accelerate reform and joint commitment to resolving open issues at the WB. In this context, he welcomed the upcoming meeting in Berlin at the initiative of German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron, because, he said, this region is part of the European house and European responsibility.

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