Update No: 117 - (22/02/07)
On May 21st last year Montenegrins voted for independence from
Serbia. The referendum was only won by a whisker - but it was won. It would
probably be won by a landslide if held again, because Montenegro is basking in
the world's attention.
Montenegro may be only the latest (192nd) member of the UN. But it is a member
and can expect all the collective security it deserves.
It is an utterly marvellous place on the Adriatic, with a great landscape and a
great seascape, a formidable architecture and a splendid position. For it is
astride the relevant routes for foreigners to the Balkans and for the hinterland
to the Adriatic.
007 to the rescue: A million tourists expected in Montenegro thanks to James
The latest James Bond thriller, Casino Royale, was filmed in Montenegro. It
has stunning shots of the coastline, mountains and countryside of the
staggeringly beautiful Balkan country. It is, indeed, a magnificent travelogue
If one is to judge by the prognosis of tourism employers, the year 2007 will be
a real tourist boom for Montenegro, and it is expected that the dream of the
tourism magnates will come true, that is, that the visit will surpass the
"magical million" of guests. In the Ministry of Tourism they are
estimating that this year 1, 1 million tourists will come, which is much more
than was the case last year, the year of independence - reports Visit
According to official statistics, Montenegro was, nevertheless, already visited
during 2006 by 952.000 guests, 15% more than the year before. From the total
number, 382.000 were foreign guests, which was 40% more than the previous year,
the rest being from Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia, which are not yet deemed foreign,
and from Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia, which only partly are.
As for the origins of foreign guests, half of the total number of them came from
countries which are members of EU, 13% from other European countries, while 18%
came from Russia and other former members of the USSR.
The new Caucasus and Crimea
The most numerous guests were from Russia, which was registered during the
last year as 60.196. They had more than 80% overnight stays than was the case a
year before. Russians came to Montenegro not just for pleasure and rest, but
also for business
reasons and to settle.
Many of them, which are not listed in the statistical data, became citizens of
Montenegro. For a long time there have been Russians and Ukrainians living in
apartments or houses which they bought on the coast.
Of course too many of them are gangsters or otherwise have little concern for
western law abiding norms, which alarms the locals. Montenegro has always been a
natural for smuggling, with its numerous creeks and mountainous hideouts,
exactly what attracted the makers of 007 movies there.
Bosnians and Croatians too
Traditionally faithful to the Montenegrin coast are tourists from other
parts of former Yugoslavia, notably from BiH, who came in the last year to the
number of 54.747. The latter had one quarter more overnight stays than in the
year 2005, even though their country is considered to be a tourist destination
itself for the world.
Croats like to spend their vacation in Montenegro, so during the last year there
were about 11.000 Croats registered, or 60% more than in 2005. Unlike previous
years, Macedonians last year came in smaller numbers, so there were about 14.320
Macedonians registered, or 15% less than a year before. Slovenian tourists
totalled 17.310 or for 325 more. Most numerous among tourists from the countries
of the EU were Czechs, who totalled 28.634, and who made 7% more overnight stays
than in the previous summer.
The Austrians are expected in droves this year, as well as Germans. French,
Italian and British visitors are expected to be not far behind. Based on a
contract with the Alliance of Austrian Pensioners already in the preseason of
2007, 10.000 guests will come from Austria, which is twice as much as there were
in the entire of 2006. Last year there was a mass arrival of tourists from
Germany, who totalled 20.088, and who made 6% more overnight stays than a year
The French were not far behind, 17.6626, which was 60% more than the previous
year, while 16.251 guests came from Italy, and they made one third more
overnight stays than in 2005. Tourist employees were happy because visitors from
Great Britain again recognized Montenegro as a place for a vacation; on the
official record in the year 2006 there were 12.822 guests from Britain, and they
had 62% more overnight stays than a year before. There were 23.842 Albanians who
were registered; they had twice more overnight stays than the year before.
There were 4.111 from Sweden, 6.359 from Poland, 5.072 Norwegians, 8.709
Hungarians, 4.251 Irishmen, 3.175 Dutch, 2.361 Finns and 1.208 Danish; and all
of them together made a significantly greater number of overnight stays than a
As for the countries across the ocean, Montenegro was visited by 5.783 tourists
from the USA, 80% more than a year before, 880 came from Australia, and 183 from
New Zealand, as well as 565 from Japan.
But there is more to Montenegrin life than glamour and vacationing.
Montenegro launches big war crimes investigation
Montenegro launched its biggest war crimes investigation on February 12th
against 12 army reservists suspected of crimes against ethnic Albanian refugees
who had fled the war in neighbouring Kosovo in 1999. This is Montenegro's first
investigation relating to the Kosovo war.
The 21 victims crossed over to villages in the mountainous region of
northeastern Montenegro to escape NATO's air bombing campaign aimed at halting
the killing of civilians by Serb forces during a two-year war with ethnic
The reservists, part of the Podgorica Corps of the former Yugoslav army, were
stationed in the area where ethnic Albanians were killed.
Investigative judge Milorad Smolovic told reporters at the court in the northern
town of Bijelo Polje that the probe would last longer than usual because the
suspects, mostly Montenegrin citizens, were at large and many witnesses needed
to be questioned.
Predrag Strugar, commander of the Yugoslav army battalion in the area and one of
the people under investigation, said the army was not to blame for the atrocity.
"You know how big that area is. All kinds of paramilitary groups operated
around there, from the Red Berets, to the Mambas and the Tigers, and now my unit
is being blamed for everything," he told Antena M radio.
Montenegro was in a joint state with Serbia until May 2006, when it voted to
become independent. The successor states of the former Yugoslavia are trying to
pursue suspects from the wars of the 1990s as a way to foster reconciliation.
Local courts are also expected to take over the work started by the United
Nations tribunal in The Hague, expected to wind up its operations by 2010.
Montenegro joins US State Partnership Programme
Montenegro urgently needs help to counter the gangsters, who are flooding in
with alacrity. The US can help here.
Emergency response and coastal management are two potential areas of
co-operation between the Montenegrin military and the Maine National Guard.
Montenegrin officers and soldiers may soon be heading to the United States for
training. On December 7th, the newly independent country joined the State
Partnership Programme (SPP), which pairs 55 countries with the National Guard in
various US states and territories. Montenegro is partnering with Maine.
"This is an historic step which will start strong bilateral partnership in
the defence field between Montenegro and the United States," US National
Guard Director Steven Blum said as he marked the occasion. "I'm very glad
about the co-operation between the state of Maine and the state of Montenegro.
It will further strengthen the co-operation as a whole between Montenegro and
the United States," said Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic.
The SPP allows Montenegrin officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers to
receive training in Maine. Reciprocal exchanges of soldiers and experiences will
take place, along with military unit co-operation and civil sector experience
exchanges. Emergency response and coastal management are two areas of particular
According to a report by the American Forces Press Services, the Maine National
Guard can potentially advise the Montenegrin military as it makes the transition
from a conscription-based to an all-volunteer force, reduces its troop numbers
and upgrades its Yugoslav-era equipment.
"Both of our nations share common goals of democracy, responsible global
conduct and strong national security," Blum said.
Montenegro's military needs US support and assistance in meeting its
international obligations, said the chief of general staff of the Montenegrin
Armed Forces, General Jovan Lakcevic. "In Maine we see a partner that will
help us to accomplish all our tasks," he said.
Following meetings with Vujanovic, Defence Minister Boro Vucinic and Foreign
Minister Milan Rocen, Blum and his delegation attended a joint police Special
Anti-terrorist Unit brigade exercise at the Danilovgrad Barracks. Using
helicopters, members of the elite unit demonstrated parts of their drill.
Blum gave "very good" marks to the Montenegrin soldiers and equipment.
"This is excellent progress and a very good unit. This is really something
that a newly independent state army should do. They have leaders with vision and
General Lakcevic leads this force in the right direction. It will be a model in
the region, with regard to stability," Blum said.
Co-operation between the US National Guard and Montenegro's military will be
boosted further once the two countries sign a Status of Forces Agreement and
reach a deal on use of infrastructure, both sides noted.
The Vatican in diplomatic relations with Montenegro
On a more spiritual plane the ultimate accolade has arrived. The Holy See
has established diplomatic relations with the republic of Montenegro, the
Vatican press office has announced. In the wake of their mutual recognition, the
Holy See will now have an apostolic nunciature in Montenegro, and the Balkan
country will have an embassy to the Holy See, a Vatican communiqué has said.
The note recalled, "as Yugoslavia disintegrated between 1991 and 1995,
Montenegro remained united to Serbia. In 2003 it adhered to the Union of Serbia
and Montenegro, which succeeded the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a union
which was dissolved by the declaration of separation by the Montenegrin
Parliament on June 3, 2006, after a national referendum on May 21," the
The Holy See recognized the republic of Montenegro last June 19.
The country has two Catholic ecclesiastical circumscriptions: the Archdiocese of
Bar, which is immediately subject to the Holy See and has 11,500 Catholics,
mostly Albanians; and the Diocese of Cattaro (Kotor), with 10,000 Catholics,
With the addition of Montenegro, the Holy See now maintains diplomatic relations
with 175 countries. It also has ties with the Russian Federation, the Palestine
Liberation Organization, the European Union and the Order of Malta.
Membership to the IMF & World Bank
Montenegro became the 185th member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
the World Bank when Montenegrin Finance Minister, Igor Luksic, recently signed
the articles of agreement of the International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (IBRD) at a ceremony in Washington, Mnnews reported.
In addition to becoming a member of IBRD, Montenegro joined the International
Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and
the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The World Bank Group is
developing a new four-year strategy for Montenegro, in consultation with the
authorities and stakeholders in Montenegro. In addition to financing and
research offered to the Montenegrin government by IDA and IBRD, the World Bank
Group, through IFC and MIGA, will also continue to offer support to encourage
private sector investments in Montenegro, it was reported. "The strategy,
which is expect to be completed by mid-2007, is likely to focus on supporting
Montenegro on the path toward European Union membership, promoting growth and
jobs through investments in environmentally sustainable tourism infrastructure,
along with other high priority infrastructure needs, and supporting government
efforts to strengthen and streamline social services such as health and
education," the World Bank was quoted as saying. The Balkan republic of
620,000 people became Europe's newest country last summer after its voters
supported a split from Serbia in a May referendum. Both the IMF and the World
Bank made separate announcements about Montenegro's membership. IMF chief
Rodrigo de Rato said the country's transition to independence has been
impressive and economic activity has recovered. He also noted that the country
has increasingly become the focus of investor interest. De Rato further pointed
out that "the future holds many challenges. Achieving a sustained increase
in prosperity will require sound economic management in order to establish the
conditions for economic growth and stability - not least in harnessing the
benefits of strong foreign direct investment and tourism for the country's
future development." The original IMF statute and WB convention were signed
by the Montenegrin Finance Minister Igor Luksic and Central Bank Council
President Ljubisa Krgovic. With its membership in the IMF and World Bank,
Montenegro has completed its integration into the global economic system and has
won the right to apply for financial aid like all the other members of these
organisations. Membership in the IMF is very important because with the help of
the organisation's programme, Montenegro will accelerate its journey to the
European Union, Krgovic pointed out. Luksic believes that membership in the two
international organisations is of exceptional importance for Montenegro because
of its future ratings. Montenegro's stake in the IMF was set at 41.2 million
Euro out of a total of 325 billion Euro of the 185 members. In the Central Bank
of Montenegro, it is seen as a "historical event." CBM expects that
the membership in IMF will raise the credibility in international circles and
will open the door of the new strategic investments. Luksic noted that the
cooperation with those institutions will contribute, among other things, to the
fact that "Montenegro will be recognised in the world as a state which runs
its politics, and which - in a middle or long term period - has to improve, with
successful realisation, the standard of living of its citizens." For
Predrag Mitrovic, the president of the Union of Employers, membership in those
institutions is a great event for Montenegro, and great news for the employers.
Montenegro Business Alliance Executive Director, Darko Konjevic, sees the
opportunity for the enhancement of the country's credit rating and for the
increase of the economic liberties. IMF Executive Director Rodrigo de Rato,
after the membership ceremony, pointed out the "dedication of IMF to the
new member, as well as to all members of this institution in promotion of their
interests which include stable and growing world economy."
Agreement in tourism with China inked
Montenegrin Minister of Tourism and Protection of the Environment, Predrag
Nenezic, met with the Chinese Ambassador in Podgorica, Li Manchnag, to sign an
agreement on cooperation in tourism, Mnnews reported.
According to the agreement, the arrangements will be made for the arrival and
stay of Chinese tourists in Montenegro. Manchang is expecting that the signing
of the contract will bolster the cooperation of China and Montenegro and the two
officials are pleased with the so far cooperation.