Sunday, April 13, 2008
WARNING for Albanians Traveling to Montenegro
As the tourist seasons draws closer this summer, Albanians from abroad traveling to Montenegro are becoming victims of ethnic profiling that is consequently costing them hundreds of dollars.
Recent travelers to Montenegro have reported that police and airport officials have scammed them from hundreds of dollars
The most common scam takes place in the open roads while driving and being randomly stopped by police officers for no apparent reason. You are directed to pull over by a baton-wielding officer standing in the middle of the road and waving towards you to pull over (NOTE: this usually always happens to drivers owning vehicles with foreign plates). Even if you had not violated any traffic laws, you are destined to drive away a fewer dollars/euros in your pocket. Police officers usually supplement their meager income by pulling drivers over and citing them for scanty violations, i.e., headlights are not turned on during the day time, seat-belts not worn, speeding literally 2-4 miles over the limit, changing lanes without a signal (although many streets are one lane), and so on. Don’t expect a ticket however you will find yourself “urged” to pay up on the spot. Don’t even expect a receipt for payment, the point here is to not record any of this in case you want to try something stupid and fight it in court. A typical pull-ver will cost you anywhere from 15-30 Euros. Keep in mind that this is totally illegal, but its either the money or they will tow your vehicle, confiscate your passport, and/or hold you there until you give in.
The airport is another adventure. Just last month, an Albanian traveling to Montenegro with his family of four was held at the Podgorica airport and demanded to pay over 200 Euros for (1) not having a Visa and (2) coming in with too much luggage. First, there is no requirement to have a Visa to enter Montenegro, and there is no penalty for arriving with excess luggage, that is usually the case when departing a country, not arriving into one. In any event, the traveler recalled the exact words repeated by the airport officer: “Look mister, you’re infant is crying, perhaps you want to take care of this matter now so I can let you go visit your mother.” When asked what he meant by taking care,” he was escorted to a private room and requested to pay 200 Euros. When he produced 200 in US dollars, the officer refused and asked him to exchange the money and immediately return with the correct sum. In addition, he was required to purchase a Visa along with the money owed.
Again, this is all illegal and clear signs of corruption.
This summer will pose another twist. The climate has changed a bit now that Albanians have been tainted as “terrorists” in Montenegro’s most storied judicial proceeding. There have been many references to the Diaspora and their possible involvement with the indictments. Although unproven, Montenegrin officials are keeping a close eye on who enters the country this summer and have not ruled out questioning visitors. And why should Albanians not be concerned, the three American citizens currently being held in Spuz traveled to Montenegro to visit family and friends.
Posted by Conference Organizer at 10:13 AM