Montenegro (Montenegrin: Crna Gora), is located in South-eastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 to the east and Albania to the southeast. Its capital and largest city is Podgorica, while Cetinje is designated as the Prijestonica, meaning the former Royal Capital City.
The country got its name (literally, "black mountain") from the dark, mountain forests that cover the land. Some 60 percent of the country is more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) high, with the tallest peak Bobotov Kuk (Durmitor) reaching to 2,522 meters (8,274 feet).
The coast of Montenegro is 294 km (183 mi) long. A notable feature of the Montenegrin coast is Bay of Kotor, a fjord-like gulf, which is in fact a submerged river canyon. The Bay of Kotor is surrounded by mountains up to 1,000 m (3,281 ft) high, which plunge almost vertically into the sea.
The use of the name Montenegro began in the 15th century when the Crnojevic dynasty began to rule the principality of Zeta, which gained autonomy in 1356. During the late 15th century, Zeta became better known as Montenegro. It was succeeded by theocratic Montenegro and Ottoman-Ruled Montenegro. Still, over subsequent centuries Montenegro was able to maintain its independence from the Ottoman Empire.
From 16th to 19th century, Montenegro became a theocracy ruled by a series of bishop princes; in 1852, it was transformed into a secular principality. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 the Congress of Berlin was held. The congress formally recognized the independence of the de facto sovereign states of Montenegro, Serbia and Romania, as the 27th – 29th free states of the world.
After World War I, Montenegro was absorbed by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929; at the conclusion of World War II, it became a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. When the latter dissolved in 1992, Montenegro federated with Serbia, first as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and, after 2003, in a looser union of Serbia and Montenegro.
In May 2006, Montenegro invoked its right under the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro to hold a referendum on independence from the state union. The vote for severing ties with Serbia exceeded 55% - the threshold set by the EU - allowing Montenegro to formally declare its independence on 3 June 2006.
Challenges persist both at central and local levels of governance, and are coupled with the need for empowering citizen participation in societal processes. At the same time, the European Commission’s progress reports repeatedly draw attention to the need to showcase a successful track record in the area of rule of law, access to justice for all, and fighting corruption at all levels.
Combating poverty and social exclusion requires more effective and adequate targeting of health, employment and social services. The MONSTAT Poverty Analysis reveals that the average poverty rate is 8.6%, while for the northern region it is 10.3%.
The population in the north of the country has limited access to public services, while women and the elderly have a considerably lower income. Unemployment rates in the North are two times greater than the national average, reflecting growing regional development disparities. Due to persisting gender-based disadvantages, women are vulnerable and lack political and economic empowerment, including protection against family violence.
Montenegro’s small and open economy - reliant on energy intensive industries - is vulnerable to rising resource prices. Montenegro is among the most inefficient consumers of energy and water in Europe. Urban sprawl (estimates of illegal construction range from 30,000 to 100,000) and illegal deforestation additionally strain the quality of infrastructure and service provision at the local level, increase exposure to various hazards, and erode one of the key potentials for the country’s competitiveness - natural resources. Montenegro’s economic development is fully reliant on a dynamic and healthy environment with economic growth depending on natural resources.
Montenegro’s most distinguished results in the recent past and in the present refer to its European integration process.
- There is a broad national and political consensus on EU integration as Montenegro’s strategic priority.
- The Government of Montenegro appointed the Chief Negotiator for EU accession in December 2011, while establishing the structure for negotiations on accession to the European Union in February 2012.
- The negotiation process between Montenegro and the European Union officially started on 29 June 2012.
EU integration milestones
- 15 October 2007 – The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) signed in Luxembourg.
- 1 November 2007 – The European Commission Delegation in Podgorica set up.
- 13 November 2007 – The Parliament of Montenegro ratifies the SAA, the Interim Agreement and Agreements on Visa Facilitation and Readmission.
- 15 December 2008 – Montenegro submits its application for EU membership.
- 30 November 2009 – The European Council grants visa-free travel for Montenegrin citizens.
- 1 May 2010 – The Stabilisation and Association Agreement enters into force, after being ratified by all 27 Member States.
- 9 November 2010 – European Commission presents positive Opinion on Montenegro’s EU membership application.
- 17 December 2010 – European Council grants Candidate Status to Montenegro.
- 12 October 2011 – In the Progress Report, the European Commission recommends the opening of accession negotiations with the EU.
- 29 December 2011 – Chief Negotiator is appointed by the Government of Montenegro.
- 2 February 2012 – The Government of Montenegro adopts the Decision Establishing the Negotiating Structure for the Accession of Montenegro to the European Union.
- 23 May 2012 – The European Commission publishes the Report on Montenegro’s Progress in the Implementation of Reforms and recommends the EU member states to open the negotiations on accession of Montenegro in June 2012.
- 26 June 2012 – European General Affairs Council in Luxembourg decides to recommend initiation of accession negotiations between Montenegro and EU to the European Commission.
- 29 June 2012 – Official beginning of the negotiation process between Montenegro and European Union.