Montenegro and European Union

The European Commission proposed lifting visa restrictions on three Western Balkans states – Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia. Under this proposal, liberalization of visas for nationals of the Western Balkans will come into force on January 1st, 2010.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana visited Montenegro on July 15th and stated that Montenegro has impressive progress towards European Union. He had a meeting with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and they discussed about the process of European integration. (watch video highlights from the visit)

Also, NATO Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer says Montenegro has made “remarkable” progress toward membership in this Euro-Atlantic coalition. However, public analyses show that only about 30 percent of Montenegrin citizens support membership in NATO. Therefore, it may turn out that “remarkable progress” is being done without citizens consent.

In the meantime, more news from international press has emerged about already badly reputed Prime Minister of Montenegro. “ICIJ’s story “The Montenegro Connection” on the ties of Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to one of Europe’s largest ever cigarette smuggling and money laundering rackets made news across the Balkans for a week in early June. It prompted Djukanovic to write a lengthy response to the investigation, which also had revealed that his family has amassed a fortune of about $200 million.

The latest news in the Montenegro Connection came out of Switzerland last week. In the largest organized crime case ever tried in the country, a court in Bellinzona acquitted seven of nine defendants accused of laundering the profits of cigarette smuggling from the Camorra and Sacra Corona Unita, two of Italy’s most powerful mafia syndicates. In all, more than $1 billion was allegedly washed through Swiss banks between 1994 and 2001, according to prosecutors.

A parallel trial is unfolding in Bari, Italy, in which prosecutors have indicted Della Torre for “Mafia association” and allege that he masterminded the tobacco smuggling racket with Montenegro authorities, including Milo Djukanovic. The prime minister, protected by diplomatic immunity, was dropped from the Bari indictment in March.”

Apart from the EU and NATO integration process, Montenegrin medias and public life has been invaded last days by news about Pamela Anderson’s visit to the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. Hollywood star/actress Pamela Anderson said in the town of Budva that Montenegro is an exceptionally beautiful country and that she is looking forward to making investments in “eco hotel” projects, together with business partners from Atlas Group from Montenegro.

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