DPM Marković in interview with Italian Agenzia Nova: Montenegro close to NATO membership, signing agreement with Italian A2A company

    Rome, Italy (22 October 2015) – Montenegro is close to getting NATO invitation and signing an agreement with the Italian-based A2A company, DPM Marković said in an interview with Italian Agenzia Nova during his visit to Rome.

    The Italian A2A and the Government of Montenegro have agreed on basic principles, which will be a key to drafting a new multi-year agreement on managing the Electric Power Industry of Montenegro (EPCG) no later than 15 December. The A2A has a 41.7% ownership in the EPCG. “I take this opportunity to voice the Montenegro Government satisfaction with the agreement we consider a great success and a significant impetus for boosting economic cooperation between Montenegro and Italy,” DPM Marković explained, adding that the final agreement with the company from Brescia will be reached very soon.

    “By singing the agreement, Italy and Montenegro will maintain good neighbourly relations and boost political and economic cooperation. We express our gratitude to the A2A company for understanding Montenegro’s economic need to develop a project important for the northern part of the country, particularly referring to the construction of the Thermal Power Plant Pljevlja.

    According to DPM Marković, this project does not represent only a new energy resource, but also a solution to insurmountable issues the municipality Pljevlja is dealing with. “By constructing the power system covering the entire city and responding to environmental challenges, the municipality Pljevlja will resolve all its major issues,” DPM Marković added.

    According to the draft agreement, the A2A will keep managing the EPCG: “At the same time, we have agreed on the so-called “put option” in case of unexpected economic risks: in that case, the Government is willing to pay EUR 250 million in seven annual installments for the A2A shares in the EPCG, the Montenegro Deputy Prime Minister Marković explained.

    The agreement between the A2A and the Government could attract more Italian investments in energy sector, particularly in the area of renewable energy resources, DPM Marković said. “Montenegro has a lot of unexploited potential in the field of renewable energy resources and a number of projects, such as the construction of hydroelectric power plants on rivers Morača, Komarnica and Tara are already in progress.”

    “As to the smaller waterways, Montenegro has a potential of about 300-400 megawatts,” DPM Marković said. “It is not only about the green energy, but the hydrocarbons as well: “Podgorica intends to exploit oil and gas from the Adriatic, just like Croatia, in order to expand its offer in the energy sector.”

    “Our tender for exploring hydrocarbons in the Adriatic is completed and a Russian-Italian consortium has also filed a bid. It is a very important project and Montenegro has lots of expectations from it in the coming period.”

    There are 3 consortia interested in participating in the tender in the tiny Balkan country –population of 672,000, area of 13.812km²: US-based Marathon Oil Corporation and Austrian energy firm OMV, Italy’s Eni and Russian No.2 gas from Novatek, as well as UK–based Mediterranean Oil&Gas Plc MOG.L and Greek Energean Oil&Gas, DPM Marković underlined.

    Italians and Russians have applied for four quadrants, Marathon-OMV has asked for five blocks, while the Greek-British consortium asked for four. It is the land located a few kilometers from the southern coast of the country, in front of Bar and Ulcinj, along the borders of territorial waters of Italy and Albania, he explained.

    NATO Secretary General’s recent visit to Podgorica was an opportunity for Montenegro to demonstrate its capacities for joining the Alliance. The NATO ministerial meeting scheduled for December in Brussels should demonstrate that foreign ministers of NATO member states’ are willing to invite Montenegro to become a part of NATO, DPM Marković added.

    “NATO commended Montenegro’s progress in all areas and encouraged the country to continue implementing reforms. We believe that Montenegro will be invited to join the Alliance at the ministerial meeting in December,” DPM Marković pointed out.

    In order to join the Alliance, Montenegro must conduct reforms in the rule of law, judiciary, fight against organised crime and corruption, defence and intelligence, as well as increase public support for NATO membership. Montenegro has completed the last one out of five Action Membership Plans referring to the so called “intensified talks” launched following the NATO Summit in Cardiff in 2014.

    In DPM Marković’s words, the recent anti-government protests against Montenegro’s NATO accession, which turned violent, have two main goals: “The first goal is to prevent NATO from extending a membership invitation and to establish a transitional government in order to make preparations for the mid-2016 elections, and the second one is to improve the Democratic Front’s rating, which has decreased, according to the latest data, from 23% to 5-6% due to internal divisions and establishment of new pro-Serbian parties.

    The aim of the protests is not to establish public dialogue, but an ultimatum, DPM Marković noted. “They aim is to provoke the fall of the government and to establish a transitional one regardless of the fact they do not enjoy political support neither inside nor outside the Parliament.”

    DPM Marković said that Democratic Front can count on the support from Serbian nationalists opposing to Podgorica’s decision to recognise the independence of Kosovo, as well as on political support of Russia, that has issued an official statement in that regard, DPM Marković concluded.

    According to the Russian Federation, Montenegro “has been experiencing political and ideological division of the society” and “the socio-economic conditions have been deteriorated due to the process of NATO accession,” and it seems that the speeding up of the process at the same time suffocates alternative approaches.

    Source: Government of Montenegro