Friday, June 29, 2012

The EU Opens Door for Montenegro

BRUSSELS (AP) -- European Union foreign ministers recommended on Tuesday that Montenegro open accession negotiations with the bloc later this week, opening the way for the Balkan nation to eventually join the union.

A ministerial statement said the talks can officially start on Friday. EU heads of state and government must still approve the move when they meet Thursday, but that's considered a formality.
Despite the financial crisis and structural problems shaking the European Union's foundations, Balkan states are still enthusiastic about joining the 27-nation bloc. Croatia has completed accession negotiations and is slated to become the EU's newest member in 2013.
Accession talks can drag on, and in Croatia's case they lasted seven years. But because of Montenegro's tiny size they are likely to proceed faster, officials say.
Ministers urged the nation of 625,000 people to step up the fight against corruption and organized crime.

Ministers "endorsed the EU Commission's assessment that Montenegro has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria ... to start accession negotiations," a statement said.

Stefan Fule, EU commissioner for enlargement, welcomed the decision.
In Podgorica, Montenegro's Prime Minister Igor Luksic praised the EU foreign ministers' decision, calling it "a victory for Montenegro, but also for the whole region'.
"The process of enlargement continues, because there is no Europe without the Western Balkans in it," he said.

Foreign Minister Milan Rocen said the EU decision will spur the nation to speed up reforms and that "it will be remembered by generations of Montenegrins."

Source:  AP

Friday, June 08, 2012

The Hypocrasy of Montenegro's Demands to Kosova

“I will neither sign the decree on the appointment of Montenegrin ambassador nor receive credentials from Kosovo's ambassadors until Montenegrins in Kosovo are recognised as a minority [in Kosovo]," Filip Vujanovic, Montenegro's head of state, said on Thursday. 

Vujanovic is conditioning an exchange of ambassadors on recognition of Montenegrins as a minority and on their authentic representation in the Kosova parliament.
On Thursday he said that Atifete Jahjaga, Kosova’s President, had pledged to meet his demands soon.
Slobodan Vujicic, chairman of the Association of Montengrins from Kosovo, said that according to the last census which Kosovo’s authorities recognize, in 1981, over 27, 000 Montenegrins lived in Kosova.
Out of 120 seats in Kosova’s parliament, 20 are guaranteed for minorities - namely the Serbian, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian, Turkish, Gorani and Bosniak communities.
At the beginning of the year, the Kosova authorities promised that Montenegrins and Croats would obtain the same status.
The Hypocrisy of Vujanovic's demands are blatant; Montenegro has systematically denied Albanians their inherent and guaranteed rights to equal education, property, language, self-government, employment and preservation of culture, yet Podgorica is holding hostage diplomatic relations with a country that does more in respecting its minorities than any other nation in the Balkans.    
The question that needs to first be asked is, "Who are the Montenegrins in Kosova?"  A significant majority of Slavs in Kosova that refer to themselves as "Montenegrin" have been assimilated to the point where there is absolutely no cultural, social, and/or linguistic differences between them and the Serbian/Bosniak communities.  They only exist as ""Montenegrin" by name; they have only recently created this identity when Serbia and Montenegro split in 2006, and much the like Montenegrin alphabet (where two letters were added to differentiate it from the Serbian), the Montenegrin individual in Kosova is a recently re-manufactured variant of the Serb.
Atifete Jahjaga should carefully consider this request because Vujanovic is walking a thin line with the Albanians community in Montenegro, and a clear double-standard is present in these negotiations.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Montenegro Govt Paid For Ex-Minister's Italian Trial

Government paid for the 250,000-euro costed defence of former minister charged with involvement in cigarette-smuggling in Italy, newspaper reveals.
Milena Milosevic
According to the daily newspaper Vijesti on Wednesday, drawing on data obtained by the law on free access to public information, the government paid the legal fees for the trial of Miroslav Ivanisevic, finance minister from 1998 to 2004 and deputy prime minister from 2004 to 2006.
A court in Bari, Italy, accused him of being connected to crime group engaged in cigarette smuggling and money laundering.
The Italian court acquitted him in 2010, in a move seen as putting a lid on frequent claims concerning Montenegro's involvement in cigarette smuggling rackets.
The government paid for his defence “because the case was connected to activities which Ivanisevic undertook as a member of the Government and, hence, it was significant for Montenegro’s international position”, Vijesti says it was told.
Although other Montenegrins were under investigation in Italy for alleged roles in cigarette smuggling, only Ivanisevic stood trial there.
An investigation against Milo Djukanovic, Montenegro’s former prime minister and leader of the governing Democratic Party of Socialists, was dropped in 2009.
Following his acquittal, Ivanisevic sought damages from the Italian authorities related to the unfounded indictment.  
The government told Vijesti that it expects to get its 250,000 euro back, once the compensation for damages is paid.

Freedom House Criticizes Montenegro's War Trials

The Montenegrin judiciary is reluctant to objectively process war crimes and top officials are not investigated, according to a Freedom House report.

Milena Milosevic

The report on Montenegro for 2011 is part of a wider comparative study conducted on “nations in transit” and was issued on Wednesday by Freedom House, a US based NGO.
Overall, Montenegro is classified as a semi-consolidated democracy.  The report cites corruption, lack of media independence and national democratic governance as the most troubled areas.
Montenegrin judiciary also got the low grade, because there is no clear evidence that new judicial reforms are effectively implemented.
Although it notes some progress in judicial independence, the report is critical of the war crime trials in the country.
It emphasized that in every case tried in 2010 and early 2011, subordinates, not commanders, were indicted.
“Furthermore, the state prosecution office failed to investigate and prosecute the chain of command,” read the report.
Freedom House also provided a brief overview of four war crime trials that were ongoing when the report was prepared, noting that more than 20 years after some of the war crimes occurred, there is no final verdict.
In the meantime, however, the Appellate Court confirmed in April the acquittal of seven former police and Yugoslav army officers charged with inhumane treatment and torture of ethnic Bosniaks and Muslims in Bukovica, Montenegro during the Bosnian war.
The indictees were acquitted because the “inhumane treatment” was criminalized in Montenegrin law in 2003, ten years after the alleged events in Bukovica. There is no right to appeal the court's decision.
The report also considers it unlikely that that top officials will ever be charged or indicted for war crimes.  According to Freedom House, this reflects the reluctance of the Montenegrin judiciary to process war crimes cases objectively.
Freedom House is a US-based non-governmental organization, which monitors governments around the world and advocates for democracy and human rights.