Monday, June 20, 2011

New Montenegro census could spur calls for change

The results may influence tax policy, infrastructure, job creation and the economic and social situation of every citizen in Montenegro.

Montenegro citizens eagerly await the new census results, especially related to national, religious and linguistic data. They are bracing themselves for large figure differences between the current census and the one from 2003.

As census data can lead to increased taxation, the new results could affect school locations, roads, utility infrastructure, shopping centers, banks, businesses and jobs.

"If it turns out that [census results] do not reflect the actual, legal and constitutional reality, the public is not required to adapt to it, but the other way around. It is the state, with all of its systems, that is required to adapt to reality," Deputy President of the New Serb Democracy Goran Danilovic said.

His party, dedicated to the protection of Serbs in Montenegro, thinks that no one would ignore the census results when it comes to national, linguistic or religious structure.

"That does not mean anything dramatic ... We must never get into a position ignoring the situation the people are in and their reality; [therefore] it is important what we put into the constitution as an expression of political will," he explained.

The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) sees the census results as relevant information for the expansion of social and development policies so they can be effectively and comprehensively applied. Spokesman and member of the DPS Executive Board Rajko Kovacevic said that at a recent party congress a conclusion was reached to strengthen the Montenegrin government and society by overcoming certain harmful divisions.

"The DPS will, with full consideration of the statistics on identity issues, continue its policy of strengthening and affirming the concept of civil society, raise the level of respect for human rights and freedoms on a daily basis," said Kovacevic.

If the census results show that people have become wealthier compared to the last census, and that there are vast differences in housing among individuals, then, Danilovic thinks, the government could change tax policy.

"Adequate taxation of excess and complete implementation of the real estate tax could bring significant resources to the state budget," said Danilovic.

The Podgorica EU delegation says that the census is strictly a statistical issue and suggests that the results will depend on how much of the EU funds will be available for the Montenegro citizens.

"At the EU level, the total population figures are used for the calculation of per capita indicators like regional GDP per inhabitant, which influence the allocation of structural funds," said the EU delegation spokesman Dragan Mugosa.

He added that the figures from the list are important for voting in EU institutions. As it is possible that this is the last census before Montenegro joins the EU, the head of the Union delegation Leopold Maurer earlier said that Brussels will apply the census data for its own policies.

In recent years, politicians mostly applied the census results related to national and linguistic changes for the promotion and implementation of political programs and goals.

Source: SETimes

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Montenegro Gay Activits Target Dinosha

Angered by the recent cancellation of Montenegro's first Pride march, which police refused to protect, activist plasters ministry for minorities with gay rights posters.

"Fix your 'ministering', or do the government and society a favour by resigning," one of the posters read, referring to Ferhat Dinosa, Minister for Human and Minority Rights.

Gay rights activist Zdravko Cimbaljevic also left Council of Europe recommendations on the status of the LGBT community in the Ministry's archive.

After ten minutes of putting up posters on the ministry walls, security guards came and took him away for interrogation.

The head of Progress, an NGO, the only declared gay and lesbian organisation in Montenegro, said his action was designed to make minister Dinosa do his job.

The ethnic minority minister is well known for his dismissive attitude towards gays and lesbians, once claiming that if it was true that gays and lesbians existed in Montenegro, “then it is not good for Montenegro”.

He also expressed satisfaction that his own ethnic Albanian community in Montenegro was apparently a gay-free zone.

"This time I decided to go alone in the name of the LGBT community, because all the others frightened of the cameras," Cimbaljevic told the Podgorica daily newspaper, Vijesti, referring to his direct action.

Dinosa was reportedly in his office while Cimbaljevic was putting up his posters.

Montenegro's first Gay Pride parade, organized by Cimbaljevic's NGO, was supposed to take place on May 31. It was canceled following two attacks directed at gay people in Podgorica ahead of the parade.

Source: Tanjug

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Montenegrins Don't Want Albanians Living Next Door," poll shows

More than half of respondents in a recent poll in Montenegro say they don't want drug addicts, homosexuals, or people with AIDS living in their neighbourhood.

The poll, carried out by the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, CEDEM, showed that 76 per cent of respondents don't want neighbours who are drug addicts, 57 per cent don't want neighbours who are homosexuals, and one-fifth of interviewees said they don't want ethnic Albanian living next door.

The public opinion survey, which was conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Minorities, found that Montenegrins believe that the Roma are the most discriminated against group in the country, followed by women. Fifty-six per cent of respondents believe that these groups face discrimination mainly in employment, and are least discriminated against in court proceedings.

Respondents said that Roma have the most difficulty finding employment, followed by people with disabilities, the elderly, homosexuals, minorities, and finally, women.

Montenegrins believe that Roma and people with disabilities are most discriminated against in terms of health care and access to education, the study found.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents said that NGOs were considered to be the bodies that worked the hardest to protect people from discrimination, followed by the media, the government and political parties.

Institutions, meanwhile, work primarily to protect against discrimination against women, fifty-eight per cent of respondents said, followed by homosexuals, forty-eight per cent said.

Montenegro is seen as especially unfriendly towards gays and lesbians, and a planned pride parade was recently cancelled after attacks on homosexuals in the weeks before the event. While Prime Minister Igor Luksic had pledged his support for the parade, saying that Montenegro had to show it was a society that was ready to accept differences, the country's minister for minority and human rights had not welcomed the idea of a parade.

Minister Ferhat Dinosa was infamously quoted as saying that if it is true that there are gays in the country, “then it is not good for Montenegro”.

Assistant Montenegrin Minister for Minorities, Sabah Delic, said that the data gathered in the CEDEM poll will be used in reviewing and improving the government's policies toward minorities and marginalized groups.

Source: BIRN