June 24, 2009
There has been lots of discussions in previous months over the possibility of putting Montenegro (and Serbia) on the white Schengen list, along with Macedonians who already fullfilled all the necessary requirements.
Montenegrin government has promised to do all the necessary preparations, in order to get on the visa-free list, but it is still unclear if the country will be accepted later this year.
Independent analyst Slowpoke who contributes to our online news service, reported that from the heroics of “surviving economy” during the international sanctions against Montenegro, now we have this heroics or “attraction” of our “reformed” country being EU candidate. In both propaganda cases, we have this same old (or mostly, with only just a few additions) political establishment Mr. Djukanovic had created early on the beginning of his ruling era, about 20 years ago. For the Montenegrin people, the situation is pretty much the same – very bleak projections for the future. On the other hand, we have, in a way, encapsulated society, with very limited resources in media that are free from the influence of this regime.
Hence, the story of EU visa liberation might be important for some global impression about Montenegro in a certain international circles. But not necesserily for the people of this country. The most people of Montenegro are poor people, by every means. So the possibilites for travelling are very restricted. In this globally cruel time, with economic crisis all around the world, Montenegro has plenty of more urgent problems – a half-dead economy and a huge corruption are just few of them. The EU visa liberation is – and if it happens in recent future at all! – way off the mark, concerning the basic needs of the people in Montenegro. And those needs are simple – first and foremost, the liberation of Montenegrin political and institutional system, from the strong holds of Djukanovic’s regime. This has to be done as soon as possible, because this is the core problem for Montenegro.
Another interesting viewpoint comes from Vladimir Nedovic, Montenegrin independent blogger: “As somebody who has lived abroad for 10 years, I have gone through all sorts of complications that usually involve people with suspicious passports. Therefore, I am very glad to hear news about visa liberalization procedures for Montenegrin citizens. Nevertheless, I am personally quite skeptical about the extent of rights and freedoms that this new attitude of EU towards Montenegro will effectively bring. For this reason, I will not think twice about taking a passport of another country when such conditions are fulfilled.
Perhaps I should also say that I hope visa liberalization is not offered to Montenegro in exchange for some other service or concession. This would not be a good thing for Montenegro for political, but also fundamentally practical reasons. Because EU patronage has not necessarily brought the increase in economic standard for the people, as we can see in the example of Croatia (the majority of whose industry is owned by foreign companies). To quote a Croatian musician Dado Topic, ´What´s the use of EU if we will enter into it in rags´.
Also, walking around Amsterdam, most of the people I see from the recently EU-adjoined Balkan countries look as if they have criminal records. It would be shameful if, after the whole process, only criminals (who never seem to have problems with getting passports and visas, anyway) have the resources to travel around Europe.”
Finally, European community is concerned with some major problems that Montenegro faces in this matter. Several prominent criminals from Serbia and Croatia, accussed for regional organised crime, and murdering of Croatian journalist Ivo Pukanic, had Montenegrin passports.
At the same time, another huge scandal was created in Montenegro, when medias discovered that fugitive former prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, has been issued a Montenegrin passport!
The Nation/Asia news network reported that Police of Thailand have sought help from the Interpol unit in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a search for fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is believed to have been staying in that country. Shinawatra is convicted for big frauds and corruption while he was holding a position of prime minister. After the court issued an arrest warrant for Thaksin, police stepped up pressure on him by asking Interpol police in 187 countries to help find and arrest him. Thai police had been dispatched to countries Thaksin was believed to visit frequently such as Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Montenegro, Cambodia and the UAE.
Recently, it has been speculated that Shinawatra bought an island in Montenegro to develop a real estate business, hoping to make billions of baht in profit by selling expensive mansions to Asian millionaires.
How will all this affect EU’s decision about visa liberation, we yet have to see. Ambassador and Head of European Commission’s Delegation to Montenegro Mr. Leopold Maurer stated that he doesn’t yet know whether this case (the affair “Thaksin”) will affect the liberalisation of visa regime for Montenegro”. (to read more about Thaksin Shinawatra affair with Montenegrin passport, click here)
In any case, Montenegrin citizens are desperately hoping to feel the freedom. The freedom of traveling abroad, without waiting in lines and collecting bunch of papers and documents, in front of European embassies. It will mean a lot to all those people who will, for the first time, get the possibility to discover other cultures, possibilities and ways of lifestyle. However, vast majority of Montenegrin citizens will not be able to travel abroad, since financial situation (for the last 20 years) has not allowed them to leave the country.
Let’s hope that better days are coming…