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The European Union (EU) has officially started the membership negotiation with the Republic of Montenegro. The talks are held to persuade other countries in the Western Balkan that the reforms are paying off. The Montenegrin government submitted an EU membership application on December 15, 2008.
The negotiation might take several years before the country can be an official member of the Union. Also, Montenegro has conducted improvement in the judicial system to curb corruption and organized crime.
In January 2011, some of Montenegro’s senior municipal officials faced accusations of corruption. The former Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic, was investigated by the Italian police and faced charges, over one billion US dollars, for a cigarette smuggling operation based in Montenegro in 2009. Montenegro has made additional efforts to further strengthen its anti-corruption by legalizing anticorruption legislation and strategies in governmental anticorruption institutions and agencies to help the government’s effort in fighting it. Also it made efforts in independence, impartiality and efficiency of the judiciary.
According to the official European Commission website, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle said, “Montenegro already did a lot. But much more still needs to be done. This next phase of the accession process will mean even more work in more areas, with continued focus on fundamental freedoms, judiciary, fight against corruption and organized crime.”
The EU leaders have approved to begin the talks at the summit on Friday, June 29. The next screening of the Montenegrin progressive would be in September 2013.
Of the former Yugoslav republics, Slovenia, as of 2004, and Croatia, which will be an official member in July 2013, have joined the EU, while the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Serbia are recognized candidates of the EU. Bosnia and Herzegovina Republic and the Kosovo Republic are potential candidates with no submitted membership applications.
Montenegro is a small country that lies on the Adriatic Sea with a population of about 680,000 and an area of 13,812 square kilometers (5,333 square miles). It became an independent state from Serbia in 2006.
The Montenegrin economy is mainly based in tourism and real estate industries. Montenegro has very rich natural and historical tourist destinations in all regions of the country. Also, it has a coast line of 293 kilometers, making more than 120 great beaches in Ulcinj, Bar, Budva, Tivat, Kotor and Herceg Novi municipalities. the Natural and Culture-Historical Region of Kotor and Durmitor National park are two destinations with UNESCO’s world heritage list.
Between 2006 and 2007, Montenegro experienced a real estate industry boom. Most Russian and UK investors in the country bought properties in the Montenegrin coast. The direct investments in Montenegro made a rapid growth of the economy. The investments in tourism and real estate fields supported the government to meet the requirement of EU membership program.
Montenegro has no national currency, but uses the Euro. Prior to 2002, it used the German Mark as the official currency. Although it was in federation with Serbia between 1992-2003, it stopped using the Serbian Dinar in 1999.