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Montenegro

Montenegro flag

(formerly part of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro)

Last reviewed: 31 August 2012

Country information

Map of Montenegro


Capital City: Podgorica
Area: 13,812 sq km
Population: 628,802 (2008)
Language: According to the constitution adopted in October 2007, the official language is Montenegrin. Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian also have official status
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Religions: Christianity (Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism), Islam.
Major Political Parties:  Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS); Social Democratic Party (SDP); Democratic Union of Albanians (DUA); Bosniak Party (BS); Movement for Change (PzP); Socialist People's Party (SNP); People's Party (NS); Democratic Serb Party (DSS); New Serb Democracy (NOVA); Liberal Party
Government: Democratic republic
Head of State: President Filip Vujanovic
Prime minister: Igor Luksic (DPS)
Foreign Minister: Milan Rocen (DPS)
Membership of International Organisations: United Nations (UN); Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); Council of Europe (CoE); International Monetary Fund (IMF); World Bank (WB); European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); Central European Initiative (CEI); International Labour Organisation (ILO); United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO); the South Eastern Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP); the Stability Pact; World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Source: United Nation and Economist Intelligence Unit unless otherwise stated
 

ECONOMY

Basic Economic Facts

GDP: $4.5 (US$bn - 2011 est.)
Real GDP Growth: 2.0% (2012 est.)
Inflation: 2.8% (2012)
Budget: 37.9% (Percent of GDP - General government reverse: 2012) 42.9% (Percent of GDP - General Government Expenditures 2012)
Debt: 46.6% (Percent of GDP - General government net debt: 2012) 48.9% (Percent of GDP -General government gross debt: 2012)
Exports: 664 (US$ m) (2011-actual.)
Exports commodities: Manufactured goods (excl machinery and equipment); Raw materials; Mineral fuels; Food, beverage and tobacco (2011)
Imports: -2,481 (US$ m) (2011– e.)
Imports commodities: Manufactured goods (excl machinery and equipment); Machinery and equipment; Mineral fuels; Food, beverage and tobacco (2011)
Major Trading Partner: Serbia; Hungary; Croatia; Greece
Exchange rate: £1 = approx 1.26 Euro (August 2012: XE- Universal Currency Converter)
Source: Economist Intelligence Unit and International Monetary Fund (IMF) unless otherwise stated

The Republic of Montenegro severed its economy from the former Yugoslavia's federal control and from Serbia during the Milosevic (pre-2000) era and maintained its own central bank, collected customs tariffs, and managed its own budget. They replaced the Yugoslav Dinar with the German Mark on 2 November 1999, and then adopted the Euro on1 January 2002, as their official currency. This was in response to rising inflation across Serbia and Montenegro. Inflation has since reduced significantly.

Following the dissolution of the State Union with Serbia in May 2006, Montenegro has become a member of several international financial institutions, including the IMF, World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Montenegro is also pursuing its own membership to the World Trade Organisation.

Reform of the financial sector in 2005 helped improve growth across all sectors of the economy and Montenegro has made progress towards becoming a functioning market economy. Tourism is a major strength and this sector continues to grow. Visitor numbers were up 39% in 2007 over the previous year and were better than expected in 2008 with a further 3.5% increase. Unemployment has been a key political and economic issue, though this has reduced significantly over recent years from 16.4% in 2006 to 10.90% in 2009, according to Government of Montenegro figures. Economic stability has been a feature of recent times; however, the global economic crisis has had a serious impact on Montenegro's economy with its main industries and the banking sector being badly affected.

International Assistance

Since 2007, Montenegro has been receiving financial assistance under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), which is being implemented by the European Commission Delegation in Podgorica since September 2008. The 2007-2009 Multi-Annual Indicative Planning Document (MIPD) for Montenegro was adopted in June 2007. In 2009 a total of €33.3 million has been allocated to Montenegro. The main focus is on the institutional changes required for the continuation of the transition process and EU integration and priority areas are rule of law, including justice and police reform, labour and safety at work, environmental protection, railways, state financial management and audit, and alignment to internal market legislation.

EU financial support has been provided to civil society development under the Civil Society Facility. Under the national IPA programme for 2009, €2.2 million has been earmarked for projects aiming to enhance civil society organisations contribution to the social, economic and political development of Montenegro, in areas such as social welfare, social education, preventative health, inter-cultural dialogue, transparency and accountability of the public administration, judiciary and parliament.

The UK supports the Government of Montenegro through the IPA programme and through our share of World Bank and EBRD lending to Montenegro. For further information, please consult the following websites:

Europa
European Bank

HISTORY

Longer Historical Perspective

In 1878 Montenegro was recognised as an independent and sovereign principality by the Congress of Berlin.

The 1912-13 Balkan wars against Turkey, followed by the Treaty of London, brought Montenegro more territorial gains on the Albanian and Kosovan borders. In the First World War, Montenegro fought on the side of the Allies but was defeated and occupied by Austria. King Nikola I and his government went into exile and, in 1918, an Assembly in Podgorica deposed Nikola I and declared Montenegro part of the new 'Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes' under a Serbian King, a move that was resisted by some Montenegrins. The new state was renamed the 'Kingdom of Yugoslavia' in 1929.

During the Second World War, in April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded and partitioned by the Axis powers, with Montenegro falling under the control of the Italians. However, Montenegro's mountainous interior and the strength of the local Communist Party made it an ideal operating base for the Partisans.

When Yugoslavia emerged in 1945 as a socialist federation, under the communist partisan leader Josip Broz (Tito), Montenegro was granted the status of a republic, along with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia. Tito ruled the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) for 35 years, sharing power amongst Yugoslavia's constituent nations.

Recent History

Tito's death in 1980 signalled the beginning of the end of the SFRY. The state's economic decline continued and, increasingly, the power sharing issue rose up the agenda. In 1989 Slobodan Milosevic, riding a wave of nationalist sentiment, came to power in Serbia, quickly installing his supporters in positions of power and severely restricting the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina. In the wars of the early nineties, Montenegro remained an ally of Serbia. Montenegrins fought in Bosnia and Croatia; and were involved in the siege and bombing of Dubrovnik. Following the secession of the other Yugoslav republics between 1991 and 1992, Serbia and Montenegro adopted the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) on 27 April 1992, and declared themselves a new state.

Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic remained a loyal ally to Milosevic until the mid-nineties, when he began to advocate Montenegrin independence. In 1997, following bitterly contested elections in Montenegro, Djukanovic became President (defeating the incumbent Milosevic candidate). The Montenegrin government distanced itself from Belgrade and criticised Milosevic's policies and the Serbian army's actions in Kosovo in 1998-1999. The ruling coalition boycotted the 2000 federal elections, which led to Milosevic's eventual removal from power. His regime came to an abrupt end on 5 October 2000, following the FRY Presidential elections and widespread street protests.

The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro

On 14 March 2002, following months of negotiations between the two republics and mediation by EU High Representative Javier Solana, the federal and republic level governments signed the 'Belgrade Agreement' forming a looser union between Serbia and Montenegro. With the formal adoption of a new Constitutional Charter on 4 February 2003 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia became the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Foreign policy, defence policy, foreign economic relations and human/minority rights were dealt with at State Union level. Svetozar Marovic, a Montenegrin, was appointed President of The Council of Ministers of Serbia and Montenegro.

The State Union was intended to promote stability within the region and to help both republics to make further progress towards European integration, but, since its birth, opinion about the future of the union was divided in both republics and it never functioned effectively. Under the terms of the Constitutional Charter either republic could hold a referendum on independence after three years. In 2006 Montenegro decided to exercise this right and, in co-operation with the EU, held a referendum on its future status on 21 May. The result was 55.5% in favour of independence (For further details on the referendum see 'Recent Political Situation' section below.)

The Montenegro Assembly made a formal declaration of independence on 3 June 2006, thus bringing the union between Serbia and Montenegro to an end. Since then Montenegro has been transforming itself into an independent sovereign state, establishing diplomatic relations and applying for membership of international organisations that it was a member of as part of the Union.

On 5 June 2006 the Serbian National Assembly decreed Serbia to be the continuing international personality of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, fully succeeding its legal status. Serbia therefore inherited membership of international organisations of which Serbia and Montenegro was a member and remains party to all international agreements, treaties and conventions to which Serbia and Montenegro was a party.

Country Profile: Serbia Country Profile

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Relations with International Community

After the removal of Milosevic in 2000, the FRY authorities made great efforts to rebuild bridges with the international community. FRY rejoined the United Nations, and joined various other international organisations, including the IMF, OSCE and the Council of Europe. In October 2005, Serbia and Montenegro began negotiations with the EU for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), the first step in the process of EU integration. (Please see “Relations with the EU” section below for more on the status of Montenegro’s progress towards the EU.)

The UK government believes that Montenegro's future lies in the EU and NATO. Close relations with her neighbours and the rest of the international community are also important. We look forward to Montenegro's membership in further European and international organisations, once the necessary requirements and conditions are met.

Relations with NATO

UK and NATO have shown commitment to working with Montenegro on defence reform. At the NATO Riga Summit on 29 November 2006, Montenegro was invited to join Partnership for Peace (PfP). This programme promotes regional stability by supporting defence reform and defence diplomacy activities between NATO Allies and PfP members. At the NATO Summit in Bucharest in April 2008, following Montenegro's decisions to develop an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO, Montenegro was invited to progress to the next step towards membership to begin an Intensified Dialogue (ID) with NATO on the full range of political, military, financial, and security issues relating to their Euro Atlantic aspirations.

Montenegro was invited to join NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in December 2009, having submitted its application in November 2008.  The invitation to join MAP was made on the basis of substantial reform progress made by Montenegro and its active contribution to security in the region.  The MAP process will continue to support Montenegro’s reform progress towards the goal of full NATO membership.

Relations with the European Union

The EU formally took the decision to open Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 3 October 2005 and the ceremonial opening of negotiations took place on 10 October. Official and technical rounds of negotiations follow every couple of months. The decision followed a positive Feasibility Study in April 2005 – a Commission led evaluation report establishing whether a country is ready to negotiate a SAA with the EU. The EU made clear that the 'pace and conclusion' of SAA talks would depend on 'progress in developing legislative framework and administrative capacity, the effective implementation of the constitutional charter, and full co-operation with the ICTY'.

On 3 May 2006 EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn suspended SAA negotiation talks following an assessment by ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte that Belgrade was not co-operating fully with the Tribunal, particularly in respect of the high profile fugitive indictee Ratko Mladic. The decision followed several warnings from the EU earlier in the year. However, following independence and a positive report from the ICTY on Montenegro’s co-operation, SAA talks were restarted on 26 September 2006. Montenegro completed their SAA negotiations on 1 December 2006, and after consultations with EU Member States, initialled the text of the Agreement in Podgorica in March 2007. The SAA was signed at the GAERC in Luxembourg on 15 October. In parallel an Interim Agreement on trade and trade related issues, was signed enabling the trade-related provisions of the SAA to come into force on 1 January 2008. The signing of Montenegro’s SAA brings them one step closer to the EU, by establishing a far-reaching contractual relationship.

On 15 December 2008 Prime Minister of Montenegro presented a formal application for EU membership to the President of the European Council. In April 2009 the Council decided to implement the procedure laid down in Article 49 of the Treaty on the European Union and the Commission was requested to submit to the Council its Opinion on the application by Montenegro. The Commission started work on its Opinion by sending Montenegro a comprehensive list of questions relating to the Copenhagen criteria and the conditions set for the stabilisation and association process. This questionnaire was handed over by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn to Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic on 22 July 2009. In December 2009 Montenegro submitted its response to the questionnaire.   The ‘opinion’ of the Commission assesses the applicant’s fulfilment of the criteria for accession, including its ability to assume the obligations of membership. This means a thorough analysis of the state of play in EU related reforms. A country’s satisfactory track record in implementing its obligations under the SAA (including the trade related provisions) is an essential element for the EU to consider any membership application.  In its ‘opinion’ in November 2010 the Commission recommended that Montenegro be granted EU candidate Status and this was confirmed by the European Council in December 2010.  The Commission set out seven key priority reform areas which would need to be addressed before it could recommend the opening of EU accession negotiations.  These relate to rule of law; reform of democratic and judicial institutions, human rights; and organised crime and corruption.  The Montenegrin Government remains committed to EU integration and have set out an EU reform Action Plan to tackle these key priority reform areas.  Subsequently in October 2011, the European Commission recommended opening accession negotiations with Montenegro, with acquis chapters 23 and 24  (on Justice and Home Affairs issues) opened first. The European Council in December agreed but has recommended June as a start date for accession negotiations following another implementation report from the Commission.

The Europa website has further information on EU relations with Montenegro:

EU Enlargement - Montenegro

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe was set up in 1949 and works to promote democracy and human rights throughout its member states. Serbia and Montenegro became the 45th member on 3 April 2003, having satisfied the membership condition of adopting the Constitutional Charter. Following the break-up of the State Union, Serbia inherited this membership of the Council of Europe, and after applying for her own membership in June 2006, Montenegro became a member on 11 May 2007. Montenegro has since ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and is working with the Council to promote and protect human rights and the rule of law.

Council of Europe

ICTY

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established in 1993 by the United Nations and is situated in The Hague in The Netherlands. It was set up through UN Security Council Resolution 827. The objectives of the Tribunal are: to bring to justice those allegedly responsible for violations of international humanitarian law; to render justice to the victims of these crimes; to deter further crimes; and to contribute to the restoration of peace by promoting reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia. All members of the United Nations are legally obliged to co-operate with the ICTY.

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) passed a Law on Co-operation with the ICTY in April 2002 which provided a framework for co-operation with ICTY. This included responsibility to transfer people indicted for war crimes by ICTY to The Hague, and granting ICTY full access to archives and witnesses in Serbia and Montenegro. The Law was amended in April 2003 by the Serbia and Montenegro Government to state that all indictees, regardless of their indictment date, should be extradited to The Hague. The law was also amended so that witnesses testifying in The Hague are no longer obliged to keep official state and military secrets.

On 7 June 2007 Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte told the UN Security Council that “ICTY has maintained a positive relationship with Montenegro for over a year”. Continued co-operation with the ICTY will remain a key international obligation as Montenegro moves towards the EU and NATO.

United Nations - ICTY

Domestic War Crimes Trials

On 27 July 2006, Montenegro's Chief State Prosecutor Vesna Medenica and her Croatian counterpart, Mladen Bajic, signed an Agreement on joint efforts to prosecute suspects who are believed to have committed crimes against humanity, including genocide. Local trials of war criminals in Montenegro have begun with one trial completed and four others ongoing.

Under the agreement, the Montenegrin state prosecution is to file charges against its own citizens who have been accused of committing war crimes in Croatia and are inaccessible to the Croatian judiciary. This is because in both Montenegro and Croatia, citizens cannot be legally extradited to foreign countries. The Croatian state prosecution was obliged to inform the Montenegrin Supreme State Prosecutor about all war crimes cases within 30 days of the Agreement being signed. These war crimes primarily relate to atrocities committed in Dubrovnik during the then Yugoslav Army's military operations in southern Croatia in the wake of the break-up of the former Yugoslav federation in the early 1990s.

Relations with Neighbours

Regional co-operation and good neighbourly relations form an essential part of the process of moving towards the European Union. Montenegro is actively participating in various regional initiatives in South East Europe and is currently presiding over the Central European Initiative and the Adriatic Ionian Initiative and is currently chair of ,  the South East European Co-operation Process (SEECP). Montenegro is also actively involved in the Regional Co-operation Council (RCC). Montenegro has continues to foster good bilateral regional relations with intensified co-operation particularly in the areas of cross border co-operation and science and technology. In December 2002, SaM and Croatia signed an interim agreement over the much-disputed Prevlaka Peninsula, a demilitarised zone which had been under UN control since 1992. Negotiations between Montenegro and Croatia regarding this issue are ongoing and the two countries have agreed to refer it to the International Court of Justice for resolution.

On 9 October 2008 the Government of Montenegro took the decision to formally recognise Kosovo following its declaration of independence in February 2008. In response Serbia expelled the Montenegrin Ambassador to Belgrade. In Montenegro the pro-Serbian opposition parties organised a rally against independence of Kosovo with speakers calling on the Government to withdraw the decision on recognition of Kosovo. A new Montenegrin Ambassador to Serbia has since returned to Serbia but Montenegro’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo in an exchange of diplomatic letters in January 2010 has caused further problems with the Serbian Government. Since then both Serbia and Montenegro have been working to set relations back on track.

Montenegro's Relations with the UK

The UK formally recognised the Republic of Montenegro as an independent sovereign state and established diplomatic relations on 13 June 2006. We announced our intention to upgrade the British Office in Podgorica to an Embassy as soon as practicable. In November 2007 Mr Kevin Lyne replaced Mr John Dyson MVO who had been Her Majesty's first resident Ambassador to Montenegro since November 2006. Mr Lyne left the Embassy in November 2009 and was replaced by Ms Catherine (Kate) Knight-Sands who arrived in December 2009.  The British Embassy in Montenegro moved to new premises in November 2008, co-located with the British Council in a converted two-storey villa for new offices and Residence.

Montenegro representation in the UK

The Embassy of Serbia and Montenegro in London became the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia on 5 June 2006. The Embassy of the Republic of Montenegro opened in September 2007. The Montenegrin Ambassador to the UK is His Excellency Ljubisa Stankovic who took up his post in May 2011.

Cultural Relations

During his visit to Belgrade in November 2002, the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw signed a Cultural Agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on Co-operation in the Fields of Education, Science, Culture and Sport. The purpose of the agreement is to strengthen cultural relations and promote exchanges in the fields mentioned above, through the British Council.  This agreement was rectified by the new Montenegrin Government upon its independence in 2006 and is in force in Montenegro.  

The British Council

The British Council has been operating in Podgorica since 1994 and is presently co-located with the Embassy.  British Council in Montenegro is nurturing cultural relations between the United Kingdom and Montenegro through its project work in the fields of education, creative industries, governance and English language, and also through maintaining and developing networks with governmental, non-governmental and international organisations locally. The projects are focused on skills development and compliance with EU norms through building links with people and institutions in the UK and creating mutually beneficial relationships. British Council also administers UK examinations and Chevening scholarships.

British Council bilingual

Recent Visits

Inward

  • 10-12 October 2011 - Finance Minister Dr Milorad Katnic visited London. He met representatives from HM Treasury, UK Trade and Investment, Barclays Bank, the City of London, and the London Stock Exchange, as well as FCO officials.
  • 6 - 8 June 2011 Montenegrin Parliament Speaker Ranko Krivokapic visited London.  He met with Lord Speaker Baroness Haymen, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, FCO Minister of State Lord Howell.
  • 12 - 17 December 2010 Opposition Party Leaders Mr Srdjan Milic, Chairman of the Socialist People’s Party, Mr Andrija Mandic, Chairman of the New Serb Democracy and Mr Nebojsa Medojevic, Chairman of the Movement for Change visited London.  They met with David Lidington, Minister of State for Europe, Mr Michael Fallon, Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party and FCO and MOD Officials.  They also observed a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons.
  • 12 January 2010 – Deputy Foreign Minister Irena Radovic visited London. She met with Daniel Fearn, Head of West Balkans Group at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office , and Matthew Taylor, Deputy Director of European and Global Issues Secretariat at the Cabinet Office.  

Outward

  • 8 June 2011 - The Minister for Europe David Lidington visited Montenegro. He met with Foreign Minister Milan Rocen, Deputy Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, and Finance Minister Milorad Katnic, as well as several NGO (non-Government organisations) representatives.
  • 22-25 September 2010 - Lord Speaker Baroness Hayman visited Montenegro. She met with Speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament Ranko Krivokapic, Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic and Minister for Culture Branislav Micunovic.  Baroness Hayman also addressed the Montenegrin Parliament and spoke at the launch of the Parliamentary Strengthening Programme being implemented by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
  • 5/6 March 2009, HRH The Duke of York visited Montenegro to officially open the new British Embassy in Podgorica. In his role as UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, HRH had a meeting with British business representatives and toured Porto Montenegro in Tivat. HRH also met with President Vujanovic and had a working lunch with Prime Minister Djukanovic and key ministers.

GEOGRAPHY

Montenegro shares external borders with Bosnia to the north-west, Serbia to the north-east, Kosovo to the east, Albania to the south, and has a 14km border with Croatia to the west. To the south west Montenegro has 293.5 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, including 52km of beaches.

The landscape of Montenegro (meaning “black mountain") is varied. The Adriatic coastline enjoys a Mediterranean climate and is made up of beaches, bays and coves. The inland landscape ranges from fertile lowlands alongside lakes and river valleys to high mountains with dense forest and deep canyons.

POLITICS

Recent Political Developments

Since the birth of the State Union in 2002, the 'independence' issue dominated politics in Montenegro. The 2003 Constitutional Charter provided for either republic to hold a referendum on independence after three years. The Montenegrin government and opposition decided to hold a referendum on 21 May 2006.

In December 2005, EU High Representative Javier Solana appointed Miroslav Lajcak, former Slovak Ambassador in Belgrade, as his personal envoy for the Montenegro referendum. Lajcak's role was to facilitate dialogue between the pro-independence bloc (led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and his government) and the pro-union bloc (led by opposition leader Predrag Bulatovic) and help them to agree terms for the referendum. Lajcak successfully brokered a deal with both sides, agreeing that for Montenegro to become independent at least 50% of the electorate must take part, with 55% voting in favour of independence. This was then enshrined in a special referendum law adopted by the Montenegrin Parliament in March 2006.

For the outcome to be accepted both internationally and within Montenegro it was imperative that the referendum and the preceding campaign was constitutional, democratic, free, fair, peaceful and in line with international standards. The referendum was monitored by thousands of international and domestic election observers, made up of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), European Union Monitoring Mission, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and Montenegrin NGOs including CEMI and CDT. Given the size of the electorate it was one of the most intensely scrutinised votes in European history.

Turnout on referendum day was 86.5% of registered voters and 55.5% voted for independence from the State Union, just above the 55% threshold. ODIHR assessed that the referendum was conducted according to OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and other international standards for democratic election processes and was marked by an active and generally peaceful campaign. On 3 June 2006, the Montenegro Assembly passed a declaration on independence. This was followed on 5 June by a Serbian National Assembly resolution declaring Serbia to be successor to the State Union.

The first Parliamentary Assembly elections in an independent Montenegro were held on 10 September 2006. The DPS-SDP Coalition for a European Montenegro led by Prime Minister Djukanovic won, securing a majority of 41 of the 81 parliamentary seats – enough to form a government. The Serb List (a coalition of SNS, SSR, NSS and DSJ) led by Andrija Mandic made considerable gains, winning 12 seats to become the official opposition, while the former opposition SNP-NS-DSS coalition led by Predrag Bulatovic dropped to 11 seats, having formerly held 26. The new party (and former NGO) Movement for Changes, led by Nebojsa Medojevic, also won 11 seats. The remaining five seats are shared between the LP and minority parties.

The ODIHR's international observation mission assessed that the elections were conducted largely in line with international standards, but highlighted some remaining challenges which must be addressed to ensure a democratic and transparent election process.

On 3 October 2006 President Vujanovic announced the resignation of Prime Minister Djukanovic and nominated the Minister for Justice, Zeljko Sturanovic, as the next Prime Minister. On 10 November 2006, the Montenegrin Parliament ratified this decision and Prime Minister Sturanovic announced his new cabinet, in which Milan Rocen replaced Miodrag Vlahovic as Foreign Minister.

A new constitution was adopted by Parliament on 19 October having achieved the required two-thirds majority to avoid a referendum. Of the 81 seats, it was supported by 55 MPs, while 21 voted against and the remainder abstained. A law on the implementation of the constitution was also adopted. It was proclaimed as the Constitution of Montenegro on 22 October 2007 replacing the Constitution of 1992. The new Constitution defines Montenegro as 'a civic, democratic and environmentally friendly country with social justice, established by the sovereign rights of its government'. Montenegrin is the official language, however Serbian, Albanian and Bosnian and Croatian are also recognised. The Constitution identifies that the nationalities and national minorities of Montenegro are Montenegrins, Serbs, Bosniaks, Albanians, Muslims, Croats and others as citizens of Montenegro free, equal and loyal to a civic and democratic Montenegro. It guarantees that religion should be separate from the state.  Some pro-union parties, particularly the Serb list, do not support this version of the constitution, and have vowed not to observe articles relating to ethnic identity issues.

On 31 January 2008 Prime Minister Zeljko Sturanovic resigned on health grounds and President Vujanovic nominated Milo Djukanovic (DPS) as his replacement. His appointment as Prime Minister was approved by Parliament on 29 February 2008 with no changes to the cabinet. He had already led Montenegro as Prime Minister or President for 15 years until he stepped down in October 2006.  Since stepping down he remained Chairman of the DPS and therefore remained a strong influence in Montenegrin and regional politics.

Montenegro held its first Presidential elections since gaining independence on 6 April 2008. The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) candidate, Filip Vujanovic, was successfully re-elected with 51.89% of the valid votes cast, winning the election in the first round. Serb List candidate Andrija Mandic won 19.55%, Nebojsa Medojevic from the Movement for Change (PzP) won 16.64% and Srdjan Milic from the Socialist People’s Party (SNP) 11.92%. Turnout on the day was 68.2% of registered voters. Following the election OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe election observers issued a broadly positive statement, reporting that nearly all aspects of Montenegro’s first post-independence presidential poll were in line with international standards for democratic elections. The observers found some issues needing attention, including the continued blurring of state and party structures; however, no official complaints were lodged on the day on any issue.

Early parliamentary elections held on 29 March 2009 were a success for the ruling DPS and their coalition partners. Under the banner of "European Montenegro" the coalition won 51% of the vote, which translates into 49 of the 81 seats in parliament - an increase of seven. The Socialist Peoples' Party (SNP) emerged as the strongest opposition party winning 16 seats, the New Serb Democracy Party (NOVA) took eight seats, Movement for Change (PzP) won five seats and the independent Albanian parties won two. Turnout was 66%. The pro-EU consensus across the political parties remained strong. The OSCE/ODIHR observation mission reacted positively following the election saying that on the whole the elections were organised professionally and that political parties were able to present their programmes to voters freely. After lengthy negotiations Milo Djukanovic was re-appointed Prime Minister and his new Ministerial team was voted in by Parliament on 9/10 June 2009. The Cabinet remained largely in place, with changes only in the Ministry of Interior with Ivan Brajovic becoming Minister and in the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights where Ferhat Dinosa was appointed Minister. Three new Ministries were created - Ministry for Environment and Spatial Planning, Ministry of Health and a new Ministry for European Integration headed by Gordana Djurovic.

Prime Minister Djukanovic resigned on 21 December 2010 and the new Cabinet of Prime Minister Igor Luksic was inaugurated on 29 December 2010.  New members of his Cabinet include Minister Dusko Markovic appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice; Finance Minister Vladimir Kavaric; Agriculture Minister Tarzan Milosevic; and Minister for Sustainable Development and Tourism Predrag Sekulic.  A Science Ministry has been established to improve Montenegro’s research and development capabilities with Sanja Vlahovic as Minister.  The Ministry for European Integration has been merged with the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry for Economic Development abolished.

Organised Crime

Like many countries in the Balkans region, Montenegro faces problems with organised crime and corruption. In the 1990s, criminals in war-torn parts of the Former Yugoslavia exploited the vacuum created by the conflicts and the isolation due to international sanctions, to establish lucrative networks, which reached into government and retarded social and economic development. Since then the government has taken steps to fight organised crime and corruption but both phenomena continue to pose important challenges to the rule of law and sound and accountable institutions. Decision-makers at the highest level have highlighted the need to tackle organised crime and corruption. A National Commission was established in February 2007 to monitor implementation of the Action Plan for the government's strategy for the fight against corruption and organised crime. This commission is headed by the Minister for European Integration and includes government officials and representatives of civil society.

The UK supports the countries of the region in the fight against organised crime and corruption and has funded various initiatives in Montenegro. These have included: a project which is being implemented by a local NGO to monitor the implementation and provide recommendations for improvement of the Action Plan for the fight against corruption and organised crime, through raising public awareness, supporting public participation, increasing transparency and conducting independent monitoring of the Action Plan; and capacity building in the administration and the judiciary (including the training of over 300 judges). It will be important that the Montenegrin authorities continue their efforts to tackle organised crime and corruption as they move towards the EU.

Defence

Minister of Defence: MS Boro Vucinic
Acting Chief of the General Staff: Admiral Dragan Samardzic
Head of the Navy: Rear Admiral Samardzic

Defence was formerly dealt with at State Union level, so the Montenegrin Government has formed its own Ministry of Defence since independence. The Montenegrin Armed Forces will be army based but also include a Navy (with a primarily frigate and coastal protection maritime force) and an Air Force (with a rotary wing air capability).

The split of the Montenegrin Armed Forces from Serbia has been tackled maturely, with some personnel in Montenegro choosing to serve the Serbian Armed Forces and some in Serbia choosing to serve Montenegro as a Sovereign State.   The Montenegrin Ministry of Defence continues to implement its Strategic Defence Review, reducing the size of the armed services and aligning to NATO standards. In Summer 2009 the Montenegrin Parliament took the decision to send a small deployment of troops to Afghanistan as part of the ISAF mission.  The first contingent deployed in early March 2010. The fourth rotation will deploy in Autumn 2011.

Relations with the UK MOD

The UK MOD expects to continue its fruitful defence relationship with Montenegro as a sovereign state. The British bilateral programme of assistance has continued with a preliminary Clearing House Working Group meeting taking place in September 2006, where Britain and key Allies helped to identify and advise on Montenegrin defence needs. The Global Conflict Prevention Pool has funded a comprehensive package of projects, such as English Language Training for Service Personnel, to improve their capacity to function effectively in Euro-Atlantic structures in the future. 

HUMAN RIGHTS

The human rights situation in Montenegro has greatly improved over recent years. Typically for a country in political and economic transition, some problems still remain. The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro adopted a Charter for Human and Minority Rights in 2003 and ratified the majority of human rights-related international conventions. Following independence Montenegro has remained faithful to human rights commitments it made while part of the State Union and has ratified relevant international conventions and continues to ensure they are fully implemented. The new constitution affirms Montenegro's commitment to defend human rights and implement international human rights legislation.

Legislation on the protection of national minorities was adopted in May 2006, but further efforts from the authorities are needed to implement it. A draft law on asylum was adopted on 6 July 2006.

Establishing freedom of the media, an independent judiciary, police reform, better accountability mechanisms for treatment of detainees by prison and law enforcement agencies, and combating human trafficking are all areas to address. Montenegro also has a role to play in bringing to justice those who perpetrated war crimes in the region in the 1990s, by continuing to co-operate with the ICTY.

For more information, please see the FCO's Annual Report on Human Rights.

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