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Books on Montenegro


Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $
GNI per capita
 US $ 106
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Update No: 119 - (30/04/07)

March to independence
The mystery is how it took so long for the Montenegrins to obtain independence which they did last summer. The referendum was only won by a whisker. But everyone agrees now that, if rerun, it would be won by a landslide now. Montenegrins are revelling in their independence and new-found fame.

As long ago as 1993, Montenegro opposed a plan by Serbia to abolish the republican ministries of foreign affairs, defence and foreign economic relations and transfer responsibility to federal ministries. The Montenegrin foreign minister at the time, Miodag Letic, insisted against Belgrade's bidding in having international observers monitor the Montenegrin-Bosnian border. Serbia expelled such monitors from Kosovo, but did not dare do so from Montenegro. The hardy mountain folk of the Black Mountain are fierce fighters, the cream of the Balkans in that regard. 

As Yugoslavia broke up, it was clear that the Montenegrins were chafing at the bit. It was simply a matter of time.

Glorious history
Montenegrins are now reconnecting with their great history that culminated in their leading the way to independence of the whole Balkans from Turkish rule (bar a narrow strip west of Istanbul, which makes Turkey European in its own eyes).

It all started in its origins as Zeta, the sixth latter of the Ancient Greek alphabet. It emerged on modern times as a defiant, violent and romantic principality, ruled by elected Prince-Bishops, until in the eighteenth century the throne became hereditary. 
For centuries the Montenegrins fought off the Ottomans, who never really succeeded in subduing them in their mountain fastnesses. The ascent of the ill-fated, but highly talented Petrovich dynasty is the more curious in that it produced, not just mountain commanders in battle, but fine poets too. Peter 1 and 11 in the first half of the nineteenth century established thoroughly Ruritanian, but quite independent principality. It was Peter 11 who wrote the epic poem, the Mountain Wreath, which, in the words of the author of Realm of the Black Mountain, Elizabeth Roberts, "crystallised for Serbs and Montenegrins everywhere the nationalistic spirit of the age." 

It was the Ottoman massacres in Bulgaria and the brave Montenegrin resistance that caught the attention of the West, notably Gladstone in the House of Commons and Tennyson in his sonnet, 'Montenegro,' in 1877. This led the great Powers to confirm their statehood and independence at the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, at which Bismarck and Disraeli hi it off and both shone. 

The ruler since 1860 had been Nikola, another debonair and flamboyant ruler, but something of a buffoon, who tried constantly to increase his territory by conquest. He was more successful in marrying off his daughters to European royalty, then having its unwitting swansong. One married Victor Emmanuel of Italy, another the future King Alexander of Yugoslavia, an enlightened monarch who translated John Stuart Mill into Serb-Croat. 

Two others were the "Black Princesses" who began the close relationship of Montenegro with Russia by marrying Russian grand Dukes, the very same who introduced Rasputin to the Tsar and Tsarina. This exalted company emboldened Nikola to proclaim himself king in 1910. But the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 destroyed his kingdom and dynasty.

Montenegro then became part of the kingdom of Yugoslavia under the Serbian dynasty, which was itself to be destroyed by Hitler in 1941 and replaced by Tito in 1944-45. Montenegrins played a large part in the liberation of Yugoslavia from the Nazis. Notable here was the Politburo member and fine writer, Milovan Djilas, who was to fall out with Tito in 1954 after the latter's breach with Stalin in 1948. 

Djilas penned superb memoirs of the Kremlin, Conversations with Stalin, utterly different in their candour and criticism from the fawning prose of Enver Hoxha, the Albanian poltroon of Stalin's. 

The Montenegrins may have been slow on the uptake in demanding independence as Yugoslavia fell apart, but they are making up for lost time now. In particular, they have attracted a lot of tourism and property buyers, particularly rich Russians. Montenegro is the location where the latest James Bond movie, Casino Royale, was filmed. 

The Russians come to town
The total amount of foreign investments in Montenegro reached 640 million Euro in 2006, including 70 million Euro (US$95 million) from Russia. 

The data was made public by Montenegrin foreign minister Milan Rocen on April 20th after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. "The Russian-Montenegrin relations are on the rise," Rocen said, adding, "We are honoured to receive the foreign minister of friendly Russia on his first state visit [to this country]." "We are meeting again in Podgorica, slightly less than a month after my first visit to Moscow," Rocen said. "This confirms the fact that our relations are on the rise." 

"I think, the world has seen few examples of such a great friendship between a small country, Montenegro, and such a large power as Russia," the minister added. In his words, Montenegro "creates all conditions for drawing foreign investments." "Russia's leading companies, such as RUSAL, are already operating here," Rocen said, adding, "we are going to create the most favourable conditions for activity of foreign investors in our country." According to him, Montenegro and Russia plan to sign a free trade agreement in the near future.

Earlier, Russia and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro had similar agreement. "That agreement was an exclusive example of interaction between Russia and a foreign country," Rocen went on to say. "I hope a new such document will be concluded with Montenegro soon," he said. Rocen expressed hope that Russian companies will take an active part in the implementation of new projects, including development of the infrastructure, building of hydropower plants, as well as construction of a road to the border with Serbia. 

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First steps are taken toward joining the EU

The tiny Balkan republic of Montenegro has made a significant step towards joining the European Union, after signing a Stabilisation and Association agreement (SSA) with the bloc, Mnnews reported. 
The accord makes Montenegro an official EU candidate, along with the other two republics of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia and Croatia. 
Montenegro Prime Minister, Zeljko Sturanovic, and EU enlargement commissioner, Ollie Rehn, inked the accord in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica on March 15th. Rehn said the agreement would facilitate trade between Montenegro and the EU and pledged European help in Montenegro's struggle against organised crime and trafficking across the borders.
"Further progress on Montenegro's road to EU will depend on the implementation of the agreement and the struggle against corruption and organised crime and based on the reforms of judiciary and administrative capacities," said Rehn.
He said the SSA pact is a real major milestone on the Montenegro's road to EU. Sturanovic said the agreement represented the first phase of substantial integration of Montenegro into the EU. Montenegro President, Filip Vujanovic, hailed the agreement as a "great step forward for Montenegro," and pledged his country would continue to fulfil all its obligations in the process of European integration.
Montenegro started SAA negotiations with the EU while being a part of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro in October 2005. The process was suspended in May 2006 due to Belgrade's failure to arrest Serb war crimes suspects sought by a UN war crimes tribunal. 
Montenegro has resumed SAA talks with the EU after the proclamation of independence and completed negotiations on December 1st, 2006. Montenegro pledged to work on the necessary pro-Western reform. The completion of the agreement means that Montenegro will attain the status of an associated state, which is a crucial step towards full EU membership. Ahead of his visit to Podgorica, Rehn said the EU expected from Montenegro to draft the Constitution in line with European standards, and provide the support of an entire political milieu if possible for its subsequent adoption.
The European Union also demanded that Montenegro, as an independent state, strengthen its institutions, and political and administrative capacities. 
Meanwhile, the visiting NATO Secretary General, Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, told Montenegrin Defence Minister, Boro Vucinic, that NATO and Montenegro would sign a security agreement, Mnnews reported. 
NATO assured that it would fully support Montenegro in military reform and the Euro-Atlantic integration process. NATO chief said signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Union and Montenegro as well as his visit to Podgorica show that Montenegro is moving in the right direction.

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Vektra wants 150m Euro investment in plants

The Podgorica-based company Vektra intends to invest more than 150 million in the Montenegrin economy, New Europe reported on April 9th. 
Vektra plans to construct a factory for processing and bottling drinking water in Kolasin by end of the year, Milic Popovic, manager of the company for public relations, said they will invest seven million Euro in the new factory with a capacity of 140 millions of litres. Vektra got concessions for the usage of water from the well Drijenak for 30 years. Popovic expects that the new factory will start working at the beginning of the next year. Vektra also got concession for 30 years on Pljevlja woods. The company has qualified for the public competition for the purchase of the wood-processing company Njegovudja and wood enterprise Zabljak. The company owns tourist complex Alert in Becici, spread over 36,000-square metres where it intends to construct a five star tourist lodge at a cost of 95 million Euro. Vektra is interested in the purchase of hotel Boka and will participate in the open competition for its privatisation. In Bar, they will invest 25 million Euro in a 23,000 square-metre housing and business complex. Vektra has also formed an airline company with 10 millions Euro, for business aviation for European and world destinations. Vektra was founded in 1990 as a general representative of Peugeot for Montenegro and is a strategic supplier of repro material for Aluminum Podgorica. Dragan Brkovic is the founder and the president of the company and its most important investments so far are housing - business space in Podgorica, Maritime agency in Bar. Vektra has also privatised two transport firms - Rumijatrans and Moracatrans. 

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