Montenegro and European Union

The aim of this report is to give an overview of happenings in Montenegrin political scene during the first hundred days of new Montenegrin government. It include links to most important news stories, related to Montenegro-EU relations as well as problems that country is facing on its way towards the EU.

PODGORICA, Jan 21 2011 (Reuters) – European Union candidate member Montenegro will fight corruption as called for by Brussels but current government members are unlikely to face prosecution, the new prime minister said on Friday. (more – Montenegro PM to address EU corruption concerns-INTERVIEW)

Chattam House issued an article about Montenegro named “The Survivor Exits”. It states that Milo Djukanovic may have stepped down as the Prime Minister of Montenegro, but the conclusion of a protracted struggle over succession will ensure that he remains a key figure in Montenegrin politics. (download full article here)

February 7th 2011: Poll Shows Montenegrins Afraid To Express Political Opinions. A Gallup poll shows that two thirds of Montenegrins are afraid to express their political opinion, RFE/RL’s Balkan Service reports. Robert Manchin, Gallup’s director for Europe, said that result “is the most alarming information in the whole research.”

The European Union has granted Montenegro candidate member status but has warned that corruption, organized crime, and a compromised judiciary are the most important priorities. The Gallup poll also showed that, paradoxically, Montenegrins seem to trust their government, which has been dominated by Milo Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. (source…)

February 16th 2011. While welcoming the European Council’s decision of December 2010 to grant Montenegro the status of candidate country, MEPs remain concerned by the corruption, organised crime, discrimination and curbs on media freedom that persist in the country (europolitics.info ; European Parliament backs Montenegro’s EU accession talks but raise concerns on corruption – full article)

Despite growing concerns and huge citizens oppozition, government continued with efforts for building hydro plants. Montenegro has lined up 15 European companies keen to build hydro power plants to ease shortages and cut electricity imports, its deputy economics minister told Reuters. (full article) EC plans to monitor closely Montenegro’s hydro-electricity plants on the Moraca River (full article)

February 24th 2011. Q&A with Montenegro’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (read more here)

Daily Newspaper Vijesti from Montenegro presented the analyse from Oxford Analytica. This analyses discussed Montenegro’s success in gaining EU candidate status last December, that was followed by the resignation of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. He was replaced by the 34-year-old Luksic, widely seen as Djukanovic’s preferred successor. Luksic’s accession may be partly due to EU reluctance to countenance further progress to EU membership with Djukanovic in power. There are hopes that the new prime minister will tackle the deep-seated problems of organised crime and corruption, giving Montenegro a fresh start. However, since Djukanovic remains head of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, it is expected that his strong influence will not only remain, but also be protected by his successor Luksic. This was especially evident from Luksic’s statement, shortly after he was elected as Prime Minister, that Montenegro will not follow Croatian way of “sanaderization”. More at this link.

Life as a journalist in Montenegro: punchbags and missionaries itching to do their job. Physical threats or threats of court action, unstable salaries and a lack of recognition. In a country which only ranked 104th on the 2010 world press freedom index compiled by reporters without borders (RWB), the journalist’s profession entails quite a number of downsides. This is one of the many paradoxes in Montenegro, for given the lack of political opposition the journalist is also the sole representative of the public interest. (read full article)

February-March 2011. Prosecutors charge Budva officials with abuse of office (article)
Montenegrin municipal officials reportedly resign (more…)

March 3rd 2011. Montenegro’s PM headed to Brussels to present achievements. This was the first official visit since he assumed the office of the Prime Minister. On that occasion, he met with top officials of the EU and NATO, as well as with Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme. PM Igor Luksic met with NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen, president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. (more)
Meeting with Igor LUKSIC, Prime Minister of Montenegro
http://vimeo.com/20605105

President of the European Parliament (EP) Jerzy Buzek stated in Brussels that, as regards the EP, accession negotiations between Montenegro and the European Union could start instantly (more)

March 29th 2011. European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule praises Montenegro (full article)
Montenegro very important country for enlargement policy-EU Commissioner Fule (more…)

Montenegro has held the 13th registration of population, households and dwellings. The first registration was held in 1879, while the last in 2003. To read more about political campaigns that were run during the census period, click here – Census in Montenegro – Théâtre de l’Absurde.

March 31st 2011. German Chancellor pledges support to Montenegro’s EU and NATO bids (more)
Merkel encourages Montenegro’s EU accession process (more)

April 8th 2011. Human Rights Reports 2010: Montenegro. U.S. Secretary of State releases Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Report states that principal human rights problems include police mistreatment of suspects in detention; substandard prison conditions; police impunity; lengthy pretrial detention; inefficient trials; intimidation of journalists; mistreatment of refugees; widespread reports of government corruption; denial of public access to information; discrimination against women; trafficking in persons; discrimination against persons with disabilities; discrimination against ethnic minorities, particularly Roma; intolerance based on sexual identity; and infringement on the rights of workers. Full report on this link.

April 11th 2011. EC President Barroso is pleased with Montenegro’s commitment and efforts demonstrated (more)
Statement from Mr Barosso during his visit to Montenegro. (full text)

April 16th 2011. Marko Milacic, young Montenegrian journalist who works for state-public broadcasting company, punished for attentnding citizen’s protests. The editors told him to stay away from broadcasting 20 to 30 days, and not appear on the screen. „I supported the street protests because I want to welcome the awakening of the citizens’s consciousness, that is the conditio sine qua non for real democracy.” – said the young journalist. The protest was organized on a Facebook page called „Street protest against Mafia”, with about 3000 supporters. They had basic democratic demands. „We have had the same government for the past 20 years now, it has to end. This is not the official opinion of the medium I work for, it is my belief. (more info)

April 2011.Montenegro is highly conservative Balkan republic. But, since it hopes to one day enter the European Union it must prove tolerance and respect for the human rights of gays and lesbians. This is why government officially suported the first every gay pride march in capital of Montenegro – Podgorica. Prime Minister Luksic supported the event and stated that Montenegro must show readiness to accept people who are different.
Montenegro prepares for first gay parade (more…)
EC expects Montenegro to guarantee security during Gay Pride Parade (more…)
Euro Parliament warns Turkey, Montenegro on gay equality (more...)
More Leadership Needed to Ensure Fundamental Rights in the EU, Say MEPs (more…)

OSCE Mission to Montenegro and NGO promote environmental activism (more)
Protests for protection of Valdanos bay, olive trees region that government planned to destroy for tourist resort construction. (petition)
Montenegro’s tender for the lease of the bay Valdanosj was declared unsuccessful (more...)

Here are some of the other important news:
– Special Report: In the wild west Balkans, a banker’s tale (read full article)
– Preliminary data shows Montenegro’s net FDI inflow for the first two months up 21.5% (full report)
– Upcoming EU President country, Poland, main objective is to speed up Western Balkan enlargement process-Source (more)
– High Tide: From Transliteration Troubles To Corruption In Montenegro (article)
– Montenegro-EU talks could start in 2011 (more)
– “Montenegrin govt. was involved in organized crime, wikileaks reports from Montenegro” (more)
– Montenegro – assessing five years of independence (full report)

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