- March 26, 2021
On March 26, 2021 the Aspen Institute Germany hosted an online discussion on the topic “The First 100 Days of the New Government in Montenegro – Expectations Fulfilled?” with Dr. Dušan Reljić, Head of Brussels Office, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), and Dr. Zlatko Vujović, President of the Governing Board, Centre for Monitoring and Research – CeMI, Montenegro. The discussion was moderated by Viktoria Palm, Program Officer, Aspen Institute Germany.
On December 4, 2020, three months after the general elections, the new government of Montenegro took office. For the first time in 30 years, a government was formed without the former ruling party, the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), and its traditional coalition partners including minority parties. Coalition talks between the constituents of the new ruling majority have proven to be difficult, given their ideological diversity and programmatic discrepancies. Since the new government has become the subject of criticism not only by the opposition, civil society, and the international community but also by MPs from the ruling coalition, the aim of the discussion was to critically assess the performance after the first 100 days in office. Key points of discussion were the track record in the field of rule of law and good governance, the geopolitical orientation of the new government, as well as social cohesion and citizenship.
Disappointment was voiced about the fact that the new government has not lived up to its promises of fighting corruption and nepotism, but rather seems to imitate the old government’s practice of politically based appointments. However, it was noted that the new government faces the challenge of reforming and overturning structures which were built over decades by the former ruling party amidst power struggles with the old government and an unstable parliamentary majority. Concerning foreign policy, despite declarations of the new government to pursue a pro-European and pro-NATO path, serious concerns were voiced during the discussion whether EU integration and alignment with the EU’s foreign policy will be among the government’s priorities in the months to come. This assessment was based on the close relations of a majority of the government with Serbia, the Serbian Orthodox Church and Russia, as well as controversial appointments and information leaks in the security sector. It was also mentioned that the EU’s difficulty in living up to its promises in the enlargement process further opens up room for influence and propaganda from other external actors. Another topic of concern raised during the discussion were rising societal and ethnic tensions, polarizing messages by government officials, and the issue of citizenship. Among other things, attention was drawn to Serbia’s influence in the election campaign and the media landscape in Montenegro, the under-representation of minorities in the new government, as well as the planned changes to the citizenship law, which bears the potential of altering the composition of the electorate. The EU was called upon to continue critically monitoring the reform process under the new government in Montenegro and to strengthen its credibility by intensifying its commitment to the region with increased financial solidarity and physical presence.
The entire discussion can be watched here:
The virtual discussion was part of the Aspen Berlin Policy Hub for think tanks from the Western Balkans, a project funded by the Open Society Foundations and the German Federal Press Agency.
For further information, the policy brief by the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI) on “The First 100 Days of the New Montenegrin Government” can be found here.