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.


Anonymous said...

Sooooo true!! This happened to my dad every time he went there. We have a car with Michigan plates and he got a ticket for not having Podgorica plates. That is bull-shit, because as long as your plates are current you can have foreign plates.

Anonymous said...

Were any of these incidents reported to the US Embassy in Podgorica? I would assume that they would be the first to know when US Citizens, visitors to Montenegro, are scammed in such ways and report it to the state department with travel warnings.

Anonymous said...

The threats as posted here have sme weight behind them.

Anonymous said...

Good god.

Welcome to Eastern Europe, buddy. This goes on EVERYWHERE, and it's not ethnic profiling. How does the cop on the side of the road know whether or not you're Albanian? They rip off ALL Americans. Why? Because if you're visiting from America, you're likely to have a wad of cash on you.

Jesus. Get off your high horse already, and use some common sense.

Anonymous said...

You are quite naive.

How do cops in Montenegro know if you are Albanian? Good God is right! In a country with only 650K people, it is not difficult to distinguish ethnic groups, especially if one is Albanian.

"They rip off all Americans"? Exactly the point here "BUDDY", and without attention to the matter, where does this head to?

The concern here is Montenegro, forget about the rest of E. Europe, that's another argument.

Your comment seems to welcome the corruption taking place; as if to say, if you are American, stay out, or don't carry "wads" of cash with you.

Listen here -- as long as Montenegro continues to proceed towards EU integration, and wherever they lack adherences to international laws, they will continue to be under the micrscope under everything they do, even if it is petty stuff like their airport debacles.

Montenegro is much easier to monitor than a larger state, thus their illicit actions are more obvious,

Anonymous said...

I'm the naive one?

We all know that there is a good deal of corruption in Montenegro, which is in-line with the rest of Eastern Europe. But to suggest that the police are ethnically profiling Albanians is ridiculous, as this sort of thing happens to all foreign-born Montenegrins, not just ethnic Albanians.

This is all manufactured outrage.

Anonymous said...

I am an Albanian from Montenegro and I know for a fact that this has been happening since I was growing up there. But guess what -- it didn't happen only to Albanians, it happens to EVERYBODY!!!!!

Americans come to Montenegro and give everybody a hard time like they and so high and mighty and then they expect respect back. Meanwhle, you are treating everybody like crap, even police!

You want to give an attitude to a police officer, guess what, he's not gonna be happy. You want to drive with your lights off, guess what, that's illegal in Montenegro. You want to speed, not pay attention to traffic laws, and you want to just go right along because you're American?

Please, like somebody said this is all manufactured. It's shallow and dumb.

Anonymous said...

And you proport to accept this form of injustice! You have become so complacent with these illicit events taking place in your own country, that it seems to be OK with you, et. al.????

Americans are treating everybody like crap, huh? Nice of you to see things like that, what a narrow focus you have on this dilemma of yours', Americans have been inflating the pockets of your state for years now, and will will continue to do so, thus contributing the Mont growing tourism industry.

How the hell does one expect respect when just upon arrival to their "vacation destination" they are treated inhumanely by airport personnel; harrased and expunged of money before they step foot off the plane.

As you elude to yourself, corruption in rampant throughout Mont, and the police are the worst of teh bunch. OF COURSE I will give an attitude to the police officer if he seeks to get paid at my expense. Why should I succumb to his bribery tactics?? I am not part of that corruptive circle and never will be. DO NOT pretend that Democracy exists in Mont when this absurd behavior is happening.

Lights off?? This has been a recent law enacted in Mont, some toursists have not picked up on it YET. Why not give "us" a warning given we are tourists, and not right off teh bat punish us for a petty misdemeanor? AGAIN and again, attemps to extract money from our big "wads."

If there is anyone that knows what laws are, especially tough traffic laws, it is Americans. You shood talk ... look at Mont pathetic traffic laws, like parking, speeding, throwing trash out the car window, etc, etc.

When a civilized society (USA) comes across corruption (Mont), it is the civilized that are victims while the corrupt that gain.

Nice job Slavs!!!!!

Anonymous said...

to say "welcome to eatern europe" is childish! if these so called "police officers" do this to tourists alone Who's to say these so called "police officers" would protect its minorities from injustice and forget about its judicial system for that matter.
alot of these problems can be "swept under the rug" so to speak just like montenegros minorities rights have been. if you keep taking that attitude then guess what a full democracy in this country will never prevail. if people voice opinions instead of looking for excusues then maybe you can call this country a democracy. nooooo more excusues..
what kind of tourism spot is this place, you cant even trust its police force let alone its airport officals and forget its government djukonovic has formed his own monopoly. the politics in this country is filthy

Anonymous said...

This could be amusing: The Mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan is planning a visit to Montenegro this August (R.H. and Tuz are sister cities).

I am willing to bet that the Mayor will be a victim of this as well, or teh people in his envoy!!!