Montenegro mocks 1991 declaration of “ecological state”

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The current government of Montenegro, backed by a difficult three-bloc alliance that narrowly ousted the DPS from power in the August 2020 elections, has vowed to turn a new leaf on environmental protection.

In February this year, the government terminated concession contracts for seven hydropower plants in the north of the country, a move hailed by campaigners who say these plants harm local rivers and ecosystems.

Then, in March, authorities opened an investigation into alleged environmental damage to the UNESCO-protected Tara River by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, CRBC, the main contractor for the construction of the Bar- highway. Boljare.

But Ikovic said it was not enough.

“While authorities praise the ecological condition, residents are still on guard to try to protect their rivers and forests,” he told BIRN. “Meanwhile, the institutions approve the theft by remaining silent or seeking a legal solution that will be good for both the investor and the citizen. They want to solve our problems but without offending those who have stolen our natural resources.

The government took another step forward in July by announcing that the abandoned salt factories of Salina, in the coastal town of Ulcinj, would be owned by the state, a move considered vital to protect the important habitat of some 250 species of birds that live and nest there. The government rejected a claim by bankrupt private salt company Bajo Sekulic for property rights to the area.

However, a few months earlier, in March, environmental groups criticized the authorities’ decision to allow the start of exploratory oil and gas drilling by the Italian Eni and the Russian Novatek some 26 kilometers off the Montenegrin coast. , allaying concerns about the risk to Adriatic waters. , marine life and the vital tourism sector.

“Unfortunately, the new government uses the same governance mechanisms as the previous one,” Ikovic said.

“Instead of protecting the interests of citizens, the secretary of the Ministry of Investments represents companies that are drilling the Adriatic for oil. Of course, we will have environmental damage from the drilling, although no one knows if we have oil or in what quantities. “


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