Hot topics: Montenegro gets new government; Serbia and Kosovo sign “historic” agreementAdriatic Journal 29 September 2020
Author: Ana Potočnik
Montenegro gets new government
The election in Montenegro on 30th August ended the 30-year rule of Milo Djukanović’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), with opposition winning a narrow victory. The leaders of three opposition coalitions, For the Future of Montenegro, Peace is Our Nation and In Black and White, agreed to form an expert government, and to continue to work on the European Union accession process. Part of the agreement also includes commitment to not reverse the recognition of Kosovo and to “strengthen and enhance cooperation with NATO.” The ruling coalition has a slim majority in the 81-seat parliament with 41 seats. Aleksa Bečić of the Democratic Montenegro party was elected as Parliament Speaker and Zdravko Krivokapić from the For the Future of Montenegro has been nominated as the candidate for the prime minister-designate. Krivokapić stated that his first invitation for an official state visit will be sent to the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić.
The new Montenegrin government is facing numerous problems, not least in the country’s shuttered economy due to the Covid-19 crisis, with tourism dropping by 80-90% from 2019 levels. There are serious problems in state-owned companies that were there even before the pandemic, as only two energy companies (Elektroprivreda, Crnogorski elektroprenosni sistem) and Pošta (Post) are currently operating stably. The remaining majority of state-owned companies, such as Montenegro Airlines, Barska and Crnogorska plovidba (Montenegro Lines), Railway Infrastructure, Railway Transport, Montecargo, etc., are operating at a loss and have accumulated debts for which the state has provided more than EUR 100m in guarantees. This, coupled with the fall in tourism that contributes one fifth to the country’s GDP, will be quite a challenge to overcome and the new government’s attempts to resolve the country’s many problems will be closely watched.
Serbia and Kosovo sign “historic” agreement
On 4 September in Washington, Serbia and Kosovo reached a “historic” agreement to normalise their economic relations. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovan Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti signed a deal that is seen as another step towards full normalisation of the relations between the two sides. Projects that are part of the agreement include the completion of the motorway from Niš to Priština worth EUR1.1bn and the reconstruction of the Niš-Priština railway line that would link Serbia to the Albanian Port of Durrës. The latter is estimated at EUR1bn and will be financed by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) that will open an office in Belgrade and that has an annual budget of more than USD 60bn.