Capital Podgorica
Time Zone CET (GMT+1)
Country Code 382
Mobile Codes 67,68,69
ccTLD .me
Currency Euro
Land Area 13,812 sq km
Population 672,000
Language Montenegrin
Major Religions Orthodox Christianity, Islam

Issues and Insights


Set invitingly on the Adriatic between Albania and Croatia, mountainous Montenegrin has received great foreign investment interest over the past few years due to its potential as a sea and mountain tourism destination. Indeed, these complementary geographies make Montenegro stunningly beautiful, and also help explain its long and eventful history as a wild land of insurrections, feudal fiefdoms and smuggling. This prevailing mentality remains ensconced in political life, and corruption is often pointed to as presenting a major challenge. However, a positive EC country report in October 2011, which gave the country the green light to start membership talks, appears to indicate the Brussels is more willing to turn a blind eye in order to hasten Montenegro’s process towards integration. And its invitation to join NATO five years later was another sign of Western interest.

Montenegro was the last Yugoslav republic to remain in state union with Serbia (until 2006). Its mixed Venetian, Ottoman and Yugoslav histories have left it with an eclectic mix of architecture, including seafront fortresses and mountain-top churches. Both before and after independence from Serbia in 2006, the issue of separateness of a Montenegrin language and church from those of Serbia has also been infused with historic and political argumentation, leaving a subtly divided society. Muslim minorities include ethnic Albanians in the south and Bosniaks in the Sandzak region that spills over into Serbia.

Despite not being an EU member, Montenegro was granted the right to use the Euro as its currency, and was even before the amicable separation with Serbia treated more favorably by the Western powers. It escaped bombardment during NATO’s 1999 intervention, when political leaders banked on then-Yugoslav president Milosevic’s unpopularity to present themselves as a friendlier ally for the West.

Now, several years after independence, the country happily accepts suitors from far and wide, and retains its historic identity as a middle ground where perceived enemies from without can meet to safely and discreetly do business. But the arrival of Russian, Arab, British and other investors in the hospitality sector indicate that the country’s rugged appeal is being discovered globally as well.

Outstanding Issues

Relations with Serbia and Kosovo, especially concerning refugee return issues and final border demarcation with the latter; corruption and organized crime in relation to political leaders;  the future of NATO and EU membership.

Forward Planning: Points of Interest

  • The Montenegrin NATO membership prospect and implications for relations with Russia, Serbia and the West
  • Pace and development of EU membership accession negotiations, authorized on October 13, 2011 by the EC
  • Investigations (or non-investigations) of government officials over corruption and organized crime on a transnational scale
  • Addressing ‘brain drain’ and regional imbalances in economic development