May 25, 2020 - "Montenegro has been an exemplary country in many ways, among the EU candidate countries. But it is no longer that!" says Tanja Fajon, Member of the EU Parliament, thus expressing her concern for the latest developments in Montenegro.
There is no crisis - including this current, health one - that could serve as an excuse to undermine democratic standards, she added. And she thinks of the violations of the privacy of Montenegrin citizens: a few weeks ago, the government published the full names and addresses of people who tested positive for the corona virus on its official internet portal. She also thinks of the ongoing conflict with the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. It marked the months before the corona crisis, and will probably seal it until the parliamentary elections lately in October this year.
During the corona crisis, the American organization Freedom House (Freedom House) issued a lousy testimony of behavior to the Montenegrin government. In its annual report on the state of democracy, the organization defined Montenegro as a "hybrid regime" in a "gray zone between democracy and open autocracy." And this organization accuses the political elite of Montenegro of authoritarian rule, abuse of power, severe deficits in the judiciary, the fight against corruption, and media freedoms.
However, the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists will not benefit from its crisis management in the crown. This phenomenon is known as the "preventive paradox": since Montenegro went through the crisis smoothly, the Montenegrin public did not register it as a "real" crisis. And thus the successes of preventive measures.
On the other hand: it will not affect the behavior of voters in the elections. Despite all the international criticism of the country's political leadership, especially that Montenegro has not made visible progress in EU accession talks for a long time, observers believe the DPS, the party of 30-year-old longtime regent Milo Djukanovic, will win parliamentary elections again in October.
Montenegro was the last country in Europe to be diagnosed with a corona infection. And there is a chance that it will be the first in Europe to declare the end of the corona epidemic. According to WHO regulations, this requires that there be no new virus outbreaks for 28 days in a row. When we wrote this, there were already 17 days without new cases.
As the first "corona free" destination in Europe, Montenegro hopes to be still able to save the 2020 tourist season. The first steps in that direction have already been taken. Beaches and hotels have been open since May 18. And from June 1, Montenegro will most likely open its borders to neighboring countries.
Author: Srdjan Govedarica, in collaboration with Zoran Ikonic and Dejan Stefanovic