EU Delegation visits Montenegro and asks nation’s parliament to guarantee protection to Sinjajevina’s lands and culture

European parliamentarians recommended an independent study of the social and environmental impacts caused by the military’s installations in this UNESCO protected area. The Montenegrin pro-government deputies’ majority rejected the proposal.

CHECK HERE the full session. If you go to minute 2h30’20’’ you will also be able to see one of the European Parliamentarians defend dearly the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Tara river and UNESCO heritage sites in the midst of the inter-parliamentarian debate about Sinjajevina.

The Parliamentary Committee for Stabilization and Association of the European Union and Montenegro visited the country over a span of three days, February 24 – 26, 2020. After two days of intense meetings, the EU Parliament Committee published a Declaration that included recommendations for the Montenegrin Parliament and Government to align their national politics with the European Union’s adhesion requirements, emphasizing in particular the importance of respecting all EU standards, and very particularly the European Green Deal aimed at tackling climate and environmental-related challenges that is Europe’s new generation’s defining task!

European Parliamentarians also called for an amendment to underline “the need for an independent study of the social and environmental impact of the military landfill in Sinjajevina”.

The Montenegrin government had agreed to receive the EU Delegation in order to discuss, evaluate and guide Montenegro’s advances in terms of rule of law and political procedures, with the goal of helping the country align itself more closely with the European Union’s standards. The EU-Montenegro interparliamentary’s Declaration’. was published on Februrary 26th, at the close of a 3-hour session at the Montenegrin Parliament. This Declaration expressed particular concern about Montenegro’s nature conservation, advising that “Utmost caution is called in UNESCO-protected areas, including the Tara River and the Sinjajevina mountain area, where in September 2019 a military training and weapons testing area was established within the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve”. The Declaration also pointed out the importance of “preserving the cultural and pastoral traditions of local communities”. During this 3-hours inter-parliamentary session, the European Parliamentarians also called for an amendment to be included in the Declaration in order to underline “the need for an independent study of the social and environmental impact of the military landfill in Sinjajevina“. Nevertheless, most unfortunately, the Montenegrin Parliament, backed up by its pro-government deputies’ majority and a parliament with a diminished opposition due to its current boycott to the government, did not allow the study to go forward. In such context, the Save Sinjajevina Association representatives said after the session that “this is one of the very few EU points that the Montenegrin government did not endorse. The other being a call for the protection of Sinjajevina… These refusals signals the Montenegrin government’s unwillingness to cooperate with the EU in the case of Sinjajevina, and further isolates the country in the face of EU standards and international policies, as this happens little after the criticisms already received by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and IUCN Advisory joint mission in 2018!”.

“The Montenegrin Government is scared of independent studies that demonstrate the nonsense of causing irreversible devastation to our natural, cultural and historical heritage”.

Civil society representatives attending the meeting with europarliamentarians.

As early as Monday 24 of February, the first day of the EU’s visit to Montenegro, Members of the European Parliament (including the Chair of the EU Delegation, Vladimir Bilcik of the Christian Democrats, and the co-chair of the European Greens, Thomas Waitz) had an official meeting with Montenegrin representatives of the movement against the militarization of Sinjajevina.  The Montenegrin Sinjajevina defenders included Mileva Jovanovic a local farmer of one of the most important pastoral commons of Sinjajevina, Aleksandar Perovic the Director of Ozon, the most important environmental NGO in the country, Gordana Kasom the Director of the study about Sinjajevina that was undertaken by the Agency for Nature and Environmental Protection of Montenegro, and Mileta Radovanic the Secretary General of the URA Party, the Greens of Montenegro. This meeting took place before the Declaration issued by Montenegro’s Parliament and added greatly to the EU’s first-hand knowledge and understanding of the situation in Sinjajevina, that motivated further the EU’s defense of Sinjajevina at the Montenegrin Parliament Wednesday 26th February.

After Montenegro’s Parliament rejection to an independent study of the social and environmental impact of the military landfill in Sinjajevina and the protection of this territory, the representatives of the civil society that attended the meeting concluded that the Montenegrin Government is “scared of independent studies that would evaluate its efforts to turn this territory of life into a territory of death and destruction as a military ground; the nonsense of causing irreversible devastation to our natural, cultural and historical heritage, groundwater, medicinal plants, the Tara River basin and the mountain landscapes of Sinjajevina.”.

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