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Ask the Government

                               Ask the Government

Keynote speech of Montenegrin Prime Minister-designate Igor Luksic to Parliament

Keynote speech of Montenegrin Prime Minister-designate Igor Luksic to Parliament
Published date 29.12.2010 12:53 | Author PR Bureau

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KEYNOTE SPEECH OF MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER-DESIGNATE

IGOR LUKSIC TO PARLIAMENT

Podgorica
December 28, 2010


BureauMr. President of the State,
Mr. President of the Parliament,
Distinguished Chair,
Honorable Members of Parliament

First, allow me to say that I am greatly honored, in my capacity as prime minister-designate, to present to Parliament the proposed program and composition of the 39th Government of Montenegro. The new Government, like the previous one, is determined to continue defending national interests and creating conditions for national economic prosperity. I will use this opportunity to draw your attention to the achievements of the previous Government before I begin talking about the new one.

Over the past two years, the country has strived to join the mainstream of the modern, developed world through substantial, intensive activities on both the national and international levels. Today, we are facing a different Montenegro: We share the same challenges as the wealthiest countries of the world.

Montenegro has obtained candidate status for the EU membership – an essential step in the integration process and a recognition of the Government’s efforts to attain comprehensive societal reform. The EU visa-liberalization regime is one of the Government’s most important achievements: It has brought Montenegrin citizens closer to Europe by providing freedom of movement. It has also opened opportunities to improve economic and political freedoms, acquire new knowledge, and freely exchange ideas and information. We have weathered the economic and financial crisis, achieving  a significant level of macroeconomic stability with a strong emphasis on public-finance stability and sustainability. Furthermore, we have successfully completed our Eurobond issue, representing Montenegro’s “first entry’’ into the international capital markets and confirming that our public-finance and economic systems enjoy the confidence of investors. We became the leading reformer in the region, based on a number of structural reforms that are under way: Foremost among these are the reforms to the pension, education and health systems, which represent the expansion of a stable macro-financial environment designed to make the system more competitive and resilient to the downward effects of the crisis. We entered a new phase in the Atlantic Integration process by joining NATO’s Membership Action Plan, the fruit of successful internal reforms and the fulfillment of obligations under the Partnership for Peace Program. We should all appreciate these indisputably positive results. For this reason, I would like to acknowledge the current Prime Minister, Mr. Milo Djukanovic, for his personal commitment to the overall development of Montenegro and the achievements of his administration. It has been a great honor and a professional challenge to be the member of his Government. Furthermore, I would like to express my gratitude to the current members of the Government for their commitment to achieving these  results.

BureauHonorable Members of Parliament,

At this time of challenges and demanding tasks, the mission that lies ahead of the Government is clearly to continue our commitment to developing and strengthening a fundamental basis for sustainable economic and democratic development. In order to accomplish this mission, we must strengthen internal political stability and security. The Government I represent today shares the same priorities presented by Prime Minister Djukanovic on June 9, 2009; above all, these relate to the further implementation of reforms aimed at creating conditions that will allow us to achieve our strategic goals, both nationally and internationally. With this approach, I am confident that our knowledge, energy, efficiency, transparency and our ability to overcome divisions will allow us to achieve the objectives we have set.

Foreign Policy

Montenegro has built up an enviable international reputation in a short period of time. The Government will continue to pursue strategic foreign policy priorities that are already well established. We will continue to implement our foreign policy in accordance with internal development needs and real opportunities in order to attain greater objectives in an accelerated manner – NATO and EU membership. This requires a policy of good relations with our neighbors and regional cooperation.  Through bilateral cooperation and a number of regional initiatives, we will affirm Montenegro’s role as a country that contributes to the stability of the Western Balkans, making an impact that far exceeds our size, territory and population. The fact that we have no outstanding issues with our neighbors, that we have been recognized as a multiethnic country and an oasis of good news from the Balkans obliges us to position ourselves as an important regional player. We will work to modernize regional cooperation initiatives: While these initiatives have been part of an indispensable political framework in the past years, our region is now exiting this phase of our history. Today, all of us speak the same language: We share common European and Euro-Atlantic goals and are partners in the joint fight against organized crime. We all aspire to EU membership, and almost all of us aspire to NATO membership. Now, we must determine how to proceed – how to translate our common readiness for cooperation into action, working on concrete projects of regional importance for the benefit of our citizens and our country. In brief, we must determine how to transform good political cooperation into a project-based framework that yields tangible results. In the light of the above, I will suggest the opening of a dialogue on updating existing initiatives or new proposals for regional cooperation that is in harmony with modern realities. We remain open for cooperation with all our neighbors and we want to assist in pursuing solutions for the remaining open issues in the region, including bilateral dialogue.

BureauIn order to better coordinate our efforts to fulfill the obligations that lie on our path to European and Euro-Atlantic integration, I have opted for a different structure of Government. In my opinion, the Ministries of the Foreign Affairs and European Integration should be merged into one. This has been a common and proven practice in other countries. For the new Government, the overriding task will be mobilizing all our resources to fulfill the seven well-known requirements prescribed by the European Commission; we must meet these in order to obtain the green light for accession talks. The new ministry will, among other things, be responsible for providing continuous communication with Brussels, as well as with other departments in the Government and other social entities. I, as the Prime Minister, have opted in this phase to personally coordinate all activities aimed at implementing obligations at the national level. Of course, this is not the obligation of the Government alone, but the Government will bear the greatest responsibility. Indeed, we must all show the will, desire and the readiness – the Government, Parliament, municipalities, and civil society – on how to best use our knowledge and capacities and how to expand the European front – in short, how to complete the most difficult chapter yet in the European integration process.

We will contribute to the fulfillment of requirements and further progress in the integration process by strengthening political consensus and the democratic maturity and vision of all actors, both among the citizenry and the institutions. This is a very complex but identifiable requirement relating to the rule of law, judicial reforms, the fight against organized crime and corruption, electoral system reforms, building up Parliament’s capacities, public administration reforms, media freedom and cooperation with civil society, as well as issues of discrimination and internally displaced persons. This is an arduous and difficult, but realistically achievable task, which will lead us to the final and more demanding stage of initiating the negotiating process for accession to the European Union. Thus we will, inter alia, initiate constitutional changes with the objective of further improving judicial independence, and we will consider the option of amending the legal framework in order to merge individual bodies that deal with the fight against corruption into a single independent agency. By engaging all available capacities and using an active and responsible approach toward the Government’s Action Plan for monitoring the implementation of recommendations given in the European Commission’s opinion, I believe we will contribute to overcoming the challenges and ensure that our results are visible and recognizable in international circles, allowing us to enter the last stage of the integration process. With regard to the EU’s pre-accession funds, we will continue to establish structures and adopt documents required for the introduction of decentralized management and the transfer of fund-management powers from the EC to national institutions. We must use our best efforts and fulfill all obligations, even those that are easily measured and the ones that are based on the perception of the progress, as it is commonly said. Maybe this will not be enough, since the decisions on countries’ progress along the European path, as well as the dynamic of the enlargement process, will depend on internal European Union relations. Naturally, we cannot control these internal relations, but we can generate good results that cannot be challenged.

Euro-Atlantic integration, which goes hand-in-hand with other European processes, will remain the Government’s key policy objective. We must maintain the pace; through coordinated activities, we must fulfill all tasks during the first annual cycles in the NATO-MAP program that were laid out in the Annual National Program, which received high marks from our partners in Brussels at the end of October. The road to NATO is a permanent road to stability for both Montenegro and the region because it requires reforms in both the defense sector and the broader society; these are a precondition for progress in European integration. Permanent stability is also attainable through Montenegro’s contributions to European security and its search for answers to modern security challenges at the global level. We will reaffirm our commitment and continue to contribute to global peace and stability through the membership in the regional security initiatives and participation in international military operations and missions, particularly in the international ISAF mission to Afghanistan, the EU operation in the territorial waters of Somalia, the UN monitoring mission in Liberia, and the police peacekeeping mission in Cyprus. We will continue with the destruction of outdated weapons and ammunition, which represents a significant security risk to Montenegro, with the goal of eliminating redundant surpluses by the end of 2012. In addition, we will continue to develop a modern airspace- and marine-surveillance system.


We need to further strengthen our capacities by continuously enhancing bilateral cooperation, primarily with the neighboring countries that have gone through (or are going through) the path that Montenegro is currently traveling, as well as EU and the NATO member states. Cooperation with the key countries such as the USA, Russia, China, etc., will occupy a top position on our foreign policy agenda. This will contribute to better achievements of internal development priorities, simultaneously helping us achieve progress in European and Euro-Atlantic integration. For a small country such as Montenegro, partnership with key European and world countries represents a challenge. We will focus primarily on the experience of small countries, small administrations, and countries that are successful EU members, as well as countries that are not EU members, but have succeeded to the greatest extent in implementing European standards. Through the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, as well as the coordination with other relevant departments, the Government will focus special attention on strengthening the function of economic diplomacy. One of the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership is to strengthen Montenegro’s economic competitiveness, boost export growth, reduce the trade deficit and improve the functionality of the market economy. The economic dimension of diplomacy must be the focus of attention, since it represents the segment that is not transferable to the EU’s competence, which leaves room for implementing more intensive economic and overall bilateral cooperation. The Government will be focused on the implementation of the recently adopted Strategy for Cooperation with the Diaspora and the related Action Plan. Furthermore, by intensifying multilateral cooperation, we continue to affirm Montenegro’s role in international organizations.

Economy

The economic crisis in the Economic Monetary Union member countries has turned into a fiscal crisis that threatens to jeopardize the single currency and the stability of the fiscal and financial systems. All European countries are suffering from the consequences of negative trends in the Eurozone. Small and open economies, which are dependent on international financial markets for funds and investments, are particularly exposed to the risks of external shocks.

Montenegro is not a part of the Eurozone, yet enjoying the benefits of the single currency and common market. The European Union is our biggest trading partner. We thus have joint economic interests: First and foremost, our interest is to preserve fiscal and financial stability. Montenegro will contribute to European economic stability by not being part of the queue of countries that require assistance from supranational institutions. I am convinced that Montenegro may become a part of the solution and an example to other countries: An example showing how countries can reach sustainability and stability in the long run by implementing strict fiscal consolidation measures, pension reforms, structural reforms, and improving the business environment. These will make Montenegro more competitive as part of Europe.

Today, Montenegro is a market economy that is reaching the end of its transition process. In the years before the crisis struck, we generated the highest economic growth in the region; per-capita GDP was higher than in any neighboring country save Croatia.

The world economic crisis hit the Montenegrin economy hard due to its high dependence on foreign funding sources. Hence we undertook a determined anti-crisis package that has mitigated the effects of the recession and allowed us to preserve economic sustenance and living standards.

The economy of Montenegro is recovering and rebounding in vital sectors. The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund have recognized the stabilization of economic trends and our economic growth prospects. Considering the severity of the economic crisis, our results are not poor. Montenegro envisages GDP growth at around 2.5% in 2011 and 4% in 2012.

However, laying the foundation for sustainable prosperity in the long run is far more important than the short-term recovery. The task of this Government is to create conditions that will enable long-term, dynamic economic stability. The economy will serve as a source of inspiration for new ideas, new inventions, new technologies and new investments.

Montenegro’s economy has the potential to generate long-term economic growth in the coming decade at an average of 5% annually. Such growth rates would mean accelerated convergence to the EU member states’ average growth level and would substantially improve Montenegrins’ living standards. Achieving continuously high economic growth will require significant economic reforms. Hence, this Government’s objective is to create the preconditions for turning potential high economic growth into reality.

I want us to work together to change bad habits and build new values. I want us to build a system in which entrepreneurs and investors can profit and unemployed people can find jobs where they can earn a decent living. I want to build a system where the unemployed will pursue job opportunities, not welfare. I want us all to believe in – and create – a prosperous society. We should abandon light criticism and realize that deeds, not words, matter most.

Honorable members of the Parliament, I want to explain how we are going to reach our economic objective: Sustainable growth.

There are several economic policy pillars that will support our primary goal:

I) Fiscal and Financial Stability

Fiscal stability is a prerequisite for economic stability. The adoption of the 2011 budget law and the Amendments to the Law on Pension and Disability Insurance System are important steps in establishing long-term stability for public finance and overall financial stability.

The forecast budget deficit for 2011 is 2.6% of GDP and the public debt is at 43% of GDP, which is within the Economic Monetary Union limits. However, we are not satisfied with the aforementioned indicators. We have drawn up an ambitious plan to generate a primary budget surplus in 2012 and to decrease the public debt to 41% of GDP. In 2013, the primary budget surplus should be above 3% of GDP and the public debt below 38% of GDP. Current budgetary spending will be reduced, and capital expenditures will allow for greater investment in infrastructure-related projects. The achievement of these fiscal targets will strengthen the confidence of the international investment community.

However, cutting public spending, deficit and debt is not adequate for achieving economic growth. Public spending is not the critical issue; what matters is, what we spend public money on, and how well the state performs its duties. I believe that the state can spend less, being able to provide more efficient services to both the citizens and businesses.

Furthermore, fiscal policy must be transparent. Those who spend the taxpayers’ money must be accountable for the results. We have to change bad habits and promote best practices. Therefore I strongly support the strengthening of both external and internal auditing of state offices.

The Government will continue the policy of a low, simple tax structure that will lessen the burden on labor and income. We will promote values and build a system so that those who work harder are not punished for their success.

Along with fiscal stability, a stable banking system lays the foundation of financial stability. We have recently adopted a new set of financial laws. It is important to strengthen the independence of financial regulators and their capacity to exercise effective supervision.

Fiscal and financial stability strength will lead to an increase in the sovereign credit rating, which in the next two years will represent a clear benchmark of our success.

II) Expediting Structural Reforms

Montenegro realized its structural reforms in response to the economic crisis, representing at the same time the need to deal with structural imbalances. Montenegro’s structural reforms, representing an integral part of the EU accession process, are aimed at increasing employment, boosting competitiveness, triggering business potential and supporting innovation. The objective is to increase the efficiency and quality of public services on one hand, and overall productivity on the other.

The Government of Montenegro will continue implementing activities set forth in the Action Plan for the Implementation of Structural Reforms in healthcare, education, science, labor and social welfare. These changes, combined with public administration reforms, represent the prerequisite for sustainable economic stability, creating the basis for long-term growth and development.

Pension reforms will reduce the pension-system deficit, making the system more stable in the long run. This will allow for the timely payment of pensions, the maintenance of retirees’ living standards, an increase in employment and a reduction in the off-the-books economy. I would like to thank Parliament for voting in favor of the aforementioned pension law. Making difficult decisions today means a responsible attitude towards future generations.

A long, persistent gap between labor-market demands and the supply from the education system has affected the unemployment structure. Therefore, we will continue to strengthen the linkage between these two sectors with the objective of turning out workers whose qualifications match labor-market demand; this will trigger a reduction in the structural imbalance, increasing employment and productivity.

Social system reforms will be focused on individuals and families in need. We will implement the "Social Card” project, which will increase not only the amount of social benefits, but the categories of citizens who are eligible for assistance.

The implementation of structural reforms in education and healthcare will create opportunities for the provision of public services by the private sector through Public-Private Partnerships. We will pay a special attention to the further development of human resources through improvements in education, training, professional capacity building, science, research and innovation. We will strive to ensure higher-quality education for all citizens and continue to work toward fulfilling the principle of lifelong learning. We will therefore continue to be focused on gaining knowledge, skills and competencies that will contribute to a stronger link between education, science and research on one hand, and the labor market on the other; thus the qualifications that Montenegrins acquire can contribute to the further societal development, which will be recognizable both at home and abroad. I will initiate a review of amendments to regulations governing apprenticeships: I believe apprenticeships are a continuation of education and therefore should be made available to all university graduates by default. This will be an additional state contribution to youth education. I believe that special attention should be paid to science and strengthening scientific research. In cooperation with the World Bank, we will create a credit line to help us achieve this goal, in line with international best practices. In light of the above, for the first time, I am proposing to establish an independent Ministry of Science.

Within the Health Center of Montenegro, we will implement an Integrated Hospital Information System, finalizing our entire health care reform project in line with European best practices. This will raise the quality healthcare provision, improving accessibility and efficiency. In the next two and a half years, a kidney transplantation program from living donors will be initiated, and starting next year, the Government will support families facing reproduction challenges: The state will finance three IVF treatment attempts instead of just two.

III) Regulatory Reforms and Improving the Business Environment

Modern economies and societies require regulatory measures that will support growth, investment, innovation, and market openness while strengthening the rule of law. Sound regulation improves the quality of life and social cohesion by providing greater transparency and better cooperation between citizens, non-governmental institutions and government bodies. A poor regulatory environment undermines market competitiveness and public confidence in the Government, encouraging corruption. Regulatory reforms should support structural reforms and economic competitiveness and allow for dynamic development in the private sector. In the light of the above, the implementation of the new Public Administration Reforms Strategy is of crucial importance.

A dynamic private sector, with companies that invest, create new jobs and strengthen competitiveness, promotes growth and expands opportunities to eliminate poverty. Sound business rules discourage the off-the-books economy and increase people’s willingness to take a risk and invest. To this end, we will be focused on establishing efficient and transparent regulations.

We will seek clear, precise and applicable rules, with the objective of leaving less room for discretionary decision-making and corruption. In addition to improving the legal framework and implementing best regulations, we need to create conditions that will allow police, prosecutorial and judicial authorities to work efficiently. We also need to establish a strong mechanism for monitoring investigations, prosecutions, and final court verdicts at all levels. Identifying the causes of corruption and eliminating them represents a recipe for success. Our safety, our property and our economic progress must be safeguarded by honest, incorruptible police officers, prosecutors and judges whose salaries allow them to live in financial security. They must provide protection and security for all citizens, protect property rights, safeguard the economic system, and, without exception, they should consistently and equitably apply legal measures to all people who violate the law. By the same token, education and healthcare providers will be professional, financially secure people who will restore professional dignity. The existence of a so-called ''middle class'' is a guarantee of stability and an indicator of general progress in all systems and states, and also a sign of secure demographic development.

The state must become an efficient service provider to the citizens and businesses. Citizens and companies must receive better-quality government services in return for the taxes they pay. By implementing regulatory reforms, we will create the basis for developing entrepreneurship, the establishment of small- and medium-sized enterprises, new investment, and new employment in the private sector.

We will thus reduce the barriers and obstacles to starting and developing a business. Ownership rights will be guaranteed and protected. The ownership registration procedure must be efficient and reliable. If we want to attract new investments, new hotels, new factories and jobs, the process of obtaining building permits should not last a year and should not be more expensive than in most other European countries. The procedure of filing taxes and registering real estate should not be expensive and time consuming, as it is now. We must use our comparative advantage through a competitive economic system.

Instead of controlling and impeding, we must help businesses to compete and grow. We will appraise and support (to some extent) any new job and every new entrepreneurial venture. Public administration must be a partner and a service to brave individuals who identify business opportunities and who are willing to take the risks. We will endeavor to generate concrete results that will supersede strategies and thousands of bureaucratic documents.

Regulatory reforms and corruption reduction will trigger a healthier and more competitive economic system. International competitiveness indicators will be an integral part of the incoming Government’s economic agenda, representing a clear performance benchmark in building a competitive economy. Our objective is to be among the top 50 countries in international economic competitiveness lists within three years. This is a very ambitious task, bearing in mind that we will be competing with around 50 countries in Europe alone.


IV) Using Comparative Advantages and Reducing Regional Differences

Small economies must remain open and flexible so they can respond to changing economic circumstances. We must exploit the sectors in which Montenegro has a comparative advantage, not only for the benefit of the Government and investors, but for the development of every municipality and for benefit of every citizen of Montenegro. We need to exploit the potential that we possess in order to generate new jobs, attract new technology, improve working and living conditions and increase overall welfare.

In comparison to other European countries, Montenegro is at a comparative disadvantage in terms of market size and specific features such as highly skilled and cheap labor. The experience of other countries clearly indicates that the use of geographic and other specific comparative advantages, along with the existence of a sound business environment. is of crucial importance in attracting both domestic and foreign investors.

Investors have recognized that energy, tourism, and transportation are the key economic sectors in which Montenegro has a comparative geographic advantage (along with other location-related advantages). The development of these sectors would foster economic growth while helping to reduce regional disparities. At the same time, we will work on establishing clusters in Montenegro in order to add value and exploit existing potentials in the field of industrial production, relying on small- and medium-sized enterprises.

In attaining the aforementioned objective, I want to boost growth in the northern part of our country. Disbursement of previously agreed credit arrangements will be a crucial step toward improving quality of life in this region through investments in local infrastructure. However, the essential development of the north is envisaged in adding value to the resources located in this part of the country (in the aforementioned areas). The adoption of the Special Purpose Spatial Plan for the “Bjelasica i Komovi” region represents the initial step for the fulfillment of objectives. We will consider the models of establishing a special enterprise, similar to the model of Lustica development, which was able to obtain a partner of a great international renown. In the light of the above, we should not ignore the potential of the Pester plateau.

Montenegro has recently made significant progress in the tourism development, which is the leading industry of the entire economy. We will be focused on creating the tourist infrastructure and the “entire tourist product,” meaning that services will be offered in northern Montenegro, not just the coast. Foreign direct investments that are scheduled for the near future will increase the competitiveness of our offer, simultaneously boosting the economic growth. In light of the above, spatial management is one of the most important tasks. A significant number of spatial planning documents have recently been developed. A Special Purpose Spatial Plan for the area of Mount Durmitor will be finished soon; we therefore believe that it is the right time to initiate the development of a spatial plan for the coastal belt, applying modern spatial management principles in the Mediterranean area as part of an effort to harmonize spatial planning documents. In cooperation with the municipality of Zabljak, we will continue activities aimed at adequately addressing the problem that has limited the development of both the region and all of Montenegro. We will continue to work on harmonization with the EU acquis communautaire and the development of technical and human capacities for environmental development. For this reason, it seems completely logical to establish a Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, which will deal with land management and environmental protection issues.

We will continue to promote energy efficiency, becoming more dependent on renewable energy resources. Energy projects that will be implemented up to 2016 are as follows: The direct Podgorica-Tirana line, small hydropower plants, wind-fueled power plants, a hydropower plant on the Moraca river, a hydropower plant on the Komarnica river, and investments related to the undersea cable between Italy and Montenegro.

We will continue to build capacities in the areas of agriculture, rural development, food security, fishery, forestry and water management, in order to continue the process of harmonization with European legislation.

In the transport area, we will not abandon the project of constructing the Bar-Boljari highway. We will explore a model that will be adequate to the financial capacities of our country. It is a project that is not only important in the context of transit traffic, but it is even more important in the context of integrating the internal infrastructure of the territory of Montenegro. We will continue to work on creating plans in order to be ready to realize the Adriatic-Ionian highway, which would constitute a major transit route. Large infrastructure-related projects, privatization and public-private partnerships projects should boost investments, aggregate demand, employment and productivity in the long run. High-quality infrastructure represents support to businesses, generating positive effects on economic growth in the long run. Thus, we will continue to build roads and bridges and restore rail, port and airport infrastructure. I will initiate the development of feasibility studies and the design of project documents for the new rail line from Pljevlja to Bijelo Polje, or from Bijelo Polje to Berane and Pec using the principle of public-private partnerships.

V) Changes in Values

Last but not least, I believe that Montenegro needs to make certain changes in its values. The historical context, as well as collectivist elements in society, has helped develop a belief that the state should resolve individual economic problems and guarantee employment, wages, pensions and profits. We should not ignore the consequences of transition or the so-called "brain drain,” which has been dominant in Montenegro for decades and has only recently begun to subside. The situation where a majority of adult Montenegrins uses budgetary benefits is not sustainable; moreover, there is a high number of people who are actively trying to become welfare beneficiaries.

The expectation that executive power – the prime minister his cabinet – should solve all the problems of employees, employers and municipalities has become a common feature in Montenegro. A majority of citizens are asking what they can obtain from the Government, while just a few are assessing their own actions and asking what they might do to resolve their problems, thereby helping themselves and the state. Such expectations and problem-solving methods are undermining the foundations of Montenegro’s economic sustainability. Changing behavior and habits is difficult process, but changing the way we think is even more difficult. I am ready to accelerate these changes.

A society should not be dependent on the budget; it should depend on individual contributions by citizens and companies. The Government cannot and should not be the solution for all of society’s problems and shortcomings, it should be accountable and efficient in carrying out its constitutional and statutory obligations. I will require everyone to be accountable for his part in the task, so that we all individually and jointly contribute to Montenegro’s overall development.

I’m assuming the responsibility of the Prime Minister in a challenging economic environment that affects both our country and our main international partners. I believe we can make Montenegro a better place to live and work. I believe the Government will be on top of the task and that the cabinet will have honest partners in the Parliament and among the Members of Parliament. The development of a sound foundation for sustainable economic growth is a joint task – we owe our citizens and future generations no less.

Honorable Members of the Parliament,

Allow me to list some activities that will receive the Government’s undivided attention – activities that are essential for the overall development of Montenegrin society:

Montenegro has been recognized as a success story in civil, religious and ethnic tolerance, and in our observance of human rights, minority rights and freedoms. I will spare no effort to cherish and uphold these values. I will endeavor to open a dialogue about the most difficult issues so we can accelerate the process of overcoming divisions in society – both the ones we have inherited and new ones. It is an important precondition for faster, more modern development of Montenegro. Centuries of multi-national and multi-religious harmony, enriched by sound normative solutions, will be further improved through the consistent implementation of strategic documents that have already been adopted. First and foremost, I’m addressing the implementation of the Strategy on Minority Policy and the Strategy for the Improvement of the Position of the RAE population in Montenegro. In the coming year, we will emphasize promoting and approximating the recently adopted Anti-Discrimination Law through a wide-ranging campaign and training of personnel. These direct methods are hugely important for preventing discrimination.

In order to enhance and strengthen the freedom of the press, we will amend the Criminal Code with the objective of further decriminalizing libel. We have a clear and consistent commitment to developing media pluralism, because the forthcoming challenges are equally important for both the state and the media, whose work must always to reaffirm the public's right to know. I will insist on consistent application of the Law on Free Access to Information.

We will put into operation an e-government portal – representing a unique place that will include all electronic public services offered by state authorities. In the next year, we will switch to an electronic document-management system in order to provide high-quality, reliable and efficient handling of the entire cycle of documentation for ministries and the general secretariat of the Government. More state bodies will be included in the second phase of the project.

We will continue with the implementation of the "Cetinje – City of Culture 2010-2013" project, aimed at supporting activities that highlight the important role Cetinje plays in Montenegro’s cultural and national identity. The project will exploit Cetinje’s development potential and revive its role as the Royal Capital of Montenegro, bolstering the city’s international recognition.

The Government will invest in sports and sports infrastructure. We will propose a new law on sports; we will also require the future Ministry of Education and Sports and the Administration for Sports and Youth to propose a model to support teams and athletes in local and national competitions: These greatly contribute to the positive image of Montenegro in the world, as well as to creating conditions for mass sports in Montenegro.

The Government will prepare a Master Plan for Investments for the period 2011 – 2020 aimed at creating a systematic investment plan that will enable the further development of the education, health, culture, sports and public administration sectors. The plan will define priority investments to be realized in these five sectors in the coming decade.

Honorable Members of Parliament,

The future is neither destined nor determined. We are individually and jointly responsible for it. It depends on our work, our dedication, our commitment, our vision and the values we cherish. At this stage of our integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and considering the unstable economic conditions across the European Union, I believe Montenegro is in need of a strong, stable and accountable Government. The Government is fully committed to dealing with all issues in all areas of society; it is also the duty of all authorities and citizens to support Montenegro’s progress down the right path. In this spirit, I ask all the Members of Parliament to support the proposed program, and I hereby propose the following composition of the Government of Montenegro:

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister DUSKO MARKOVIC (presently minister without portfolio)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information Society and Telecommunications VUJICA LAZOVIC (currently deputy prime minister and minister of information society)
Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration MILAN ROCEN (currently minister of foreign affairs)
Interior Minister IVAN BRAJOVIC (incumbent)
Finance Minister MILORAD KATNIC (currently deputy finance minister)
Defense Minister BORO VUCINIC (incumbent)
Economy Minister VLADIMIR KAVARIC (former president of the Insurance Supervision Agency council)
Minister of Transport and Maritime Affairs ANDRIJA LOMPAR (currently Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Telecommunications)
Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism PREDRAG SEKULIC (currently political director of the governing Democratic Party of Socialists)
Agriculture Minister TARZAN MILOSEVIC (former mayor of Bijelo Polje)

Minister of Education and Sports SLAVOLJUB STIJEPOVIC (currently minister of education and science)
Science Minister TANJA VLAHOVIC (new cabinet post; formerly dean of the faculty of tourism at Mediteran University)
Labor Minister SUAD NUMANOVIC (currently minister of labor and welfare)
Health Minister MIODRAG RADUNOVIC (currently minister of health and social care)
Culture Minister BRANISLAV MICUNOVIC (currently minister of culture, sports and media)
Human and Minority Rights Minister FERHAT DINOSA (incumbent)
Minister without portfolio RAFET HUSOVIC (incumbent)


THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION!