Montenegro Rejects Balkan ‘Mini Schengen’ Proposal

Montenegro's economy minister Dragica Sekulic said on Monday that joining the 'mini Schengen' initiative for Balkan states proposed by Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia would be a waste of energy because her country has already "opened its borders" and lifted trade barriers to its neighbours.

She said that Montenegro is a member of CEFTA, the Central European Free Trade Agreement, a regional initiative for the Western Balkan countries which guarantees the free flow of people of goods.

"I understand the initiators. These are the countries that, because of the various trade barriers they have placed on each other, may need a new initiative to promise again that they will do what we have long done," Sekulic told the Montenegrin public broadcaster.

She also said that Montenegrin citizens are already travel using their identity cards as a document to all countries in the region except Croatia.

At a summit in Ohrid in North Macedonia on November 10, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, his North Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic committed to work together to lift barriers on the movement of goods and people between the three Balkan countries.

They also invited other Balkan countries to join the initiative.

After the meeting Zaev said that the 'mini Schengen' zone would help boost economic growth and foreign investment.

Rama called on Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the process, but reiterated that Kosovo should also be included on a "legal basis and on an equal footing".

But Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci said in a message on Facebook that "the country's path toward EU and NATO membership cannot be replaced by any regional initiative".

He also said that the...

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