Save Sinjajevina receives more than 20.000 signatures asking to stop the military ground while the EU regrets that ‘the issue is still not solved’

  • Representatives of Save Sinjajevina campaign deliver a book of signatures to the EU Delegation for Montenegro and to the Prime Minister of Montenegro.
  • The EU Parliament regrets that the Sinjajevina issue regarding the installation of a military training ground is “still not solved” and “urges the Montenegrin authorities to enforce effective, dissuasive and proportionate penalties for all environmental offences and to root out corruption in this sector”.
Members of Save Sinjajevina campaign demanding to protect their home

After more than 2 years struggling to establish Sinjajevina as a truly protected area, co-managed and co-designed by its own inhabitants, the members of the international Sinjajevina campaign received a cold shower when noticing the new intentions of the present Minister of defense of Montenegro.

On Monday 4th July and just after the NATO summit in Madrid,  Mr. Rasko Konjevic stated that, “it is not logical to cancel the decision on the military training ground in Sinjajevina” and that “we are going to prepare for new military practices in Sinjajevina” directly contradicting the Prime Minister, who assured that “Sinjajevina will definetly not be a military training ground”.

Beyond this clear political conflict within the government, and even believing that the prime minister’s words would carry more weight, the truth is that, since the last attempt of a military use of this UNESCO-protected grasslands in 2020 when it was repealed by local communities and rights activists, the national government never implemented any of its well-intentioned statements about protecting this territory.

As a logical consequence, its inhabitants, supported by an international campaign composed by dozens of European and American NGOs, restarted to collect signatures in order to make the EU aware that one of its potential future members is violating the EU Green commitments among other human and environmental rights agreements.

On June the 26th, the European Parliament published its official progress report for Montenegro, reiterating that its Government should take urgent measures to “effectively conserve protected areas, continue identifying the potential Natura 2000 sites” and expresses concern about “damage to bodies of water and rivers related to infrastructure projects, including Lake Skadar, Sinjajevina, Komarnica and others” and finally “regrets that despite initial progress the Sinjajevina issue is still not solved; underlines the need for assessment and compliance with the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive; urges the Montenegrin authorities to enforce effective, dissuasive and proportionate penalties for all environmental offences and to root out corruption in this sector”.

After this important statement by the EU, the Save Sinjajevina Association organized an international solidarity camp next to the Sava lake in Sinjajevina, the most important body of water of all Sinjajevina, and just a few hundreds of meters from the heart of the military training ground which is at the same time one of the best conserved parts of this territory. Around 50 people from Montenegro, Italy, France and other European countries, camped for a few days and gathered with local community members, numbering in total more than 250 people, to celebrate the St. Peter’s day (Petrovdan), one of the most important community celebrations of the year for its inhabitants, vindicating the inviolability of Sinjajevina.

After it, the World BEYOND War celebrated a youth camp where young people from Montenegro and from Bosnia and Herzegovina shared different points of views to overcome the Sinjajevina conflict and create a strategy for a long-term peaceful relations both in Montenegro and the Balkans.

““Respecting local communities is a must. We are willing to organize meetings with the institutions of Montenegro if they don’t agree to meet with members of the Save Sinjajevina association”.”

Laura Zampetti, Deputy Head of Political section in EU Delegation to Montenegro

Finally, after this successful events, the president of the Save Sinjajevina Association, Milan Sekulovic, handed over the international petition with the support of more than 20,000 signatures from worldwide citizens to both to the representatives of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro and the Montenegrin Prime Minister. More than 25 national and international media reported both the signatures’ delivery and a demonstration of Sinjajevina inhabitants in Podgorica, the Montenegrin capital.

“We are overwhelmed and proud of the enormous show of international support we have received from many countries. It seems that international citizens have realized that destroying Sinjajevina means destroying a green heart of Europe and, as a society, we cannot allow that in our home”, stated Sekulovic.

Demonstration in Podgorica and delivery of singnatures showed up on the National TV of Montenegro.

Ms Laura Zampetti, Deputy Head of Political section in EUD and Ana Stanišić Vrbica, Good Governance and European Integration Advisor received the Save Sinjajevina delegation, and insisted on “respecting the local community” and that were willing to “organize meetings with the institutions of Montenegro if they don’t agree to meet with members of the Save Sinjajevina association”. For the moment the cabinet of the Montenegrin Prime Minister received them but not the Prime Minister Dritan Abazović. Abazović’s cabinet assistant assured that “the majority of the members of the Government are against the military training ground on Sinjajevina and will do everything possible to put the decision out of force”.

““We are overwhelmed and proud of the enormous show of international support we have received from many countries. It seems that international citizens have realized that destroying Sinjajevina means destroying a green heart of Europe and, as a society, we cannot allow that in our home.”

Milan Sekulovic, President of the Save Sinjajevina Association

A few days after the protest in Podgorica and the submission of the petition to the Prime Minister and the EU Delegation on the 18th of July, the Ministry of Ecology has announced that Sinjajevina should become a protected area, and that the Decision on the military training ground should be repealed.

As Sekulovic says, “the last Save Sinjajevina campaign was thoroughly planned and well executed, even with the scarce resources it has. And this is just one more proof of the team’s good coordination, because results continue coming in. Now there is a growing support to Save Sinjajevina among other different members of the Government (beyond the larger society), and even if the Ministry of the Defense, in hands of a minority political party of the Government, insists on the need to maintain its current official status and relaunch its use as military training ground”

 Finally, at the best, “we only get good words from Montenegrin politicians: until we have a law to protect Sinjajevina, we will never stop protesting”, states Sekulovic.

@SSinjajevina #SaveSinjajevina #Sinjajevina

Sinjajevina Webpage

Sinjajevina Facebook (in serbian)

Sinjajevina will show if we want to be an organized state

According to the Constitution of Montenegro, the right to a healthy environment is a human right. The Constitution also stipulates that everyone has the right to timely and complete information on the state of the environment.

[ GUEST OPINION POST ] @ Dr Maja Kostić-Mandić. Professor of Environmental and International Environmental Law. University of Montenegro, Faculty of Law. Contact: [Article originally published in serbian:]

In Montenegro, many decisions are made without public participation and prior expert analysis, and this position is best confirmed by the decision to establish a training ground for the needs of the Army of Montenegro in Sinjajevina. The question arises on the basis of which criteria the Government decided on Sinjajevina in 2019 and which procedures were (or were not) followed in the decision-making process on that issue. Sinjajevina is the largest pasture in Montenegro and one of the largest in Europe, and while the area where the Army planned to build a training ground is the main water source and a center for feeding cattle from the Katun (highland pastoralist settlements).

Until recently, numerous requests for access to information sent to the competent ministry, as well as to municipalities, remained unanswered. However, in October 2021, more than a year after the request was submitted, the Ministry of Defense provided access to all requested information. We now know that in July 2018, it was established that the municipalities in whose area the construction of the military range is planned, never formally gave their consent to the Government’s plan (according to available information, the municipality of Mojkovac gave oral consent, the municipality of Kolasin did not give consent, expressed a negative opinion on the project, while the municipality of Savnik was not even consulted and no information is available for Zabljak).

What about the people who would be directly affected by the implementation of this decision? What does this mean for about 22,000 inhabitants in the vicinity of this area, as well as for about 250 families and over 4,000 people who have hutspass all their summers on Sinjajevina and live off the mountain?

Billboard of the campaign “Save Sinjajevina”, in a main street of Pogdorica.

“Around Savina Voda, which is the largest water source on the southwest side of Sinjajevina, katuns were never built for the purpose of healthy water storage. These were the unwritten rules that people respected, and when they caught went with cattle, they stayed there for only 20 minutes, while the cattle drank. And that’s exactly where they found what local people kept conserved, so I don’t believe that these people kept it for our government to build a military training ground or a shooting range there, but people kept it for themselves, for these after them and after us “- says one of the cattle breeders.

The fact is that to date, no expert analysis has been made of the possible negative effects on the local community and the environment of the creation of the military range on the local community and the environment . The reports provided up to now, where made for a similar purpose and for the needs of Northern Macedonia at the site located in that country. Obviously, this cannot be applied to Sinjajevina as these are two completely different sites.

To the question of why Sinjajevina should be preserved, the significant answer is “this is the only thing left untouched. Here, they took the sea, they took the rivers, they took everything. If they take this from us, where are we going then?”

This attitude of cattle breeders from Sinjajevina explains in an original way the principle of sustainable development, which is achieved by establishing a balance between the needs of development and preservation of the environment. The author of this text had the opportunity to gain insight into the content of seven more interviews (out of a larger number) that were conducted with
cattle breeders in Sinjajevina in the summer of 2020. What all the interlocutors have in common is that they learned about the decision to build a military training ground from the media (usually from television) and that they only heard unverified information from other locals, and that no state institution, government or municipality informed them of the intention to build the military range.

Therefore, they were not allowed to express their position. If that was the case and they were given the opportunity, everyone stated that they would have participated in the public debate wherever it took place. They all expressed their readiness to defend Sinjajevina and their multi-generational way of life in harmony with nature and the basic source of income for their families.

“What about the people who wold be directly affected by the implementation of this decision? what does this mean for about 22,000 residents in the area as well as about 250 families?”

Another important issue refers to the (non) existence of publicly available expert analyzes on the possible damage that would occur if this project were was fully implemented in the area of ​​Sinjajevina. The current Spatial Plan for Durmitor area from July 2016 envisages the proclamation of the Sinjajevina Regional Nature Park, but a Protection Study has not yet been done for this area, which would predict its key values ​​for protection and propose the category, protection regime and boundaries of this planned protected natural asset. .

The competent institutions are urged that there is no obligation to carry out an impact assessment and on the environment because it is a project intended for defense. It should be reminded of the fact that according to the Constitution of Montenegro, the right to a healthy environment is a human right; that the Constitution stipulates that everyone has the right to timely and complete information on the state of the environment, the possibility of influencing when deciding on issues of importance to the environment and the legal protection of these rights; that the state in particular is obliged to preserve and improve the environment, as well as to protect the natural and cultural heritage. To this should be
added the provisions of the Aarhus Convention (United Nations Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, 1998), which is binding on Montenegro and the European Union. The Convention may exceptionally allow, on a case-by-case basis, not to ensure public participation in decision-making in order to preserve the interests of national defense. However, even in this case, certain conditions must be met: that it is provided by national legislation and if the state considers that the application of the provisions of this article would have a negative impact on the stated defense interests (Article 6.1 (c)). At this moment, this is not known and there is no publicly available data that about this test of potentially negative impact was being done in the process of deciding on the construction of the military range.

We must not forget the generally accepted rules of international law which, like the Aarhus Convention, are an integral part of our legal order, have precedence over domestic legislation and are directly applicable when relations are regulated differently from our laws. These principles unequivocally include the principle of sustainable development, precaution and prevention, which are provided by the Law on Environment, as the umbrella law in this area, and represent the basic principles of European Union policy, not only in the field of environment.

In just a few years, the issue of forming establishing a military training ground in Sinjajevina has reached the third government, and its position on this issue will clearly show our public opinion whether we want to be a legal, democratic and ecological state.

International organizations urge the EU to block Montenegro’s accession until it stops militarizing its UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

[PRESS RELEASE] By the Save Sinjajevina Campaign (Save Sinjajevina Association, Land Rights Now, World BEYOND War, ICCA Consortium, International Land Coalition, Common Lands Network, and other associated partners).

  • Sinjajevina is the Balkan’s biggest mountain pasture, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and a vital ecosystem  with over 22,000 people living in and around it. The Save Sinjajevina campaign was born in 2020 to protect this unique European landscape.
  • NATO and the Montenegrin army have dropped up to half a ton of explosives on Sinjajevina without any environmental, socio-economic nor health public assessment, and without consulting its inhabitants, putting their environment, their way of life and even their existence at great risk.
  • Dozens of local and international organizations supporting the ‘Save Sinjajevina’ campaign demand that the land rights of traditional pastoralists and the environment are secured,  opening consultations held with local communities to create a protected area in Sinjajevina, in line with the European Green Deal, and urge the EU to ask for the removal of the military training ground in Sinjajevina as a pre-condition for Montenegro’s accession to EU membership.
  • On 18 June, 2022, pastoralists and farmers from the region celebrated the Day of Sinjajevina in the capital with participation of local and national government officials and the  EU Delegation to Montenegro (see here and in Serbian here). Nevertheless, this support has not yet materialized into a decree canceling the military ground nor creating a protected area originally  planned to be set up by 2020.
  • On 12 July 2022, people from around the world will gather in Sinjajevina to raise their voices in support  of its protection and promotion, as well as the cancellation of the military ground via a global a petition and an international solidarity camp.
Local demonstration against Sinjajevina military camp held in Pogdorica

Local and international environmental and human rights groups have urged the Montenegrin government and the European Union to scrap the project to militarize the Sinjajevina highlands and to listen to the demands of local communities living from this territory. Nevertheless, almost three years after its creation, the government of Montenegro still has not canceled the military ground.

At the heart of Montenegro, the Sinjajevina region is home to over 22,000 people living in small towns and hamlets. Part of the Tara River Basin Biosphere Reserve and bordered by two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Sinjajevina’s landscapes and ecosystems have been shaped by pastoralists over millennia and continue to be shaped and conserved.     

Repeated actions by the government of Montenegro to convert a large part of this traditional and unique pastoral territory into a military training ground, led local communities and civil society groups to mobilize, based on scientific research , for the defense  of these highly valuable pasturelands and cultures, to establish a community-led protected area.

Several local and international organizations have expressed solidarity with local communities in Sinjajevina. Milan Sekulovic, President of the Save Sinjajevina Association, highlights that “if Montenegro wants to be part of the European Union, it must respect and protect European values, including the EU’s Green Deal, the Natura 2000 area proposed by the EU in Sinjajevina, and the EU’s biodiversity and natural habitats strategy. Moreover, militarizing the region is in direct contradiction with the recommendation of a 2016 study co-funded by the EU supporting the creation of a protected area in Sinjajevina by 2020”. Together with its allies around the world, the Save Sinjajevina Association launched a petition addressed at Olivér Várhelyi, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, urging the European Union to discard plans for the military training ground and to open consultations with local communities to create a protected area as a pre-condition for Montenegro’s EU membership. 

“In addition to losing access to traditional pasturelands, we fear that the militarization of our territory will lead to pollution, reduced ecological and hydrological connectivity, damage to wildlife and biodiversity as well as to our animals and crops. If our natural resources, traditional products and landscapes lose value, up to twenty thousand people and their businesses could be seriously affected”, explains Persida Jovanovic from a family of farmers of Sinjajevina.

“This is an evolving crisis in Sinjajevina’s territories of life”, stresses Milka Chipkorir, Coordinator on defending territories of life of the ICCA Consortium, one of the key supporters of the petition. “Occupying private and common lands in Sinjajevina, where a military testing range was opened in 2019 while people were still on their pastures, severely threatens pastoralist and farming communities and the unique ecosystems they care for through their ways of life.”      

“Sinjajevina is not just a local issue but also a global cause. We are very concerned about pasturelands becoming inaccessible to those who have managed them sustainably for centuries, creating a unique biodiversity that would disappear without them. Securing the rights of local communities to their territories is recognized as the best strategy to protect nature and reverse the degradation of such ecosystems” adds Sabine Pallas of the International Land Coalition, a global network that promotes people-centered land governance and which welcomed the Save Sinjajevina association as a member in 2021. 

David Swanson from World BEYOND War affirms that “to recognize the outstanding work that the Save Sinjajevina association has done to defend the rights of local people as a step forward towards building peace and reconciliation in the region, we granted them the War Abolisher of 2021 Award”. 

All supporters of the Save Sinjajevina campaign urge the government of Montenegro to immediately withdraw the decree creating a military training ground and to create a protected area co-designed and co-governed with Sinjajevina’s local communities. 

“The pastoralists of Sinjajevina should always have the last word on what happens in their       territories. These local communities have created, managed and conserved a uniquely valuable landscape, which is increasingly rare in Europe, and wish to be at the center of the conservation, promotion and governance efforts of their territory. Instead, they are now at risk of losing their lands and their sustainable way of life. The EU should support secure land rights for local communities as part of their 2030 Biodiversity Strategy” says Clémence Abbes, Coordinator of the Land Rights Now campaign, a global alliance co-convened by the International Land Coalition, Oxfam, and the Rights and Resources Initiative.

““if Montenegro wants to be part of the European Union, it must respect and protect European values, including the EU’s Green Deal, the Natura 2000 area proposed by the EU in Sinjajevina, and the EU’s biodiversity and natural habitats strategy.”

Milan Sekulovic, President of the Save Sinjajevina Association


On Tuesday July 12, on Petrovdan (St. Peter’s day), hundreds of people from different countries are expected in Sinjajevina to learn about the way of life of its inhabitants and the importance of its landscapes through through the social celebration of this day along with a farmers’ assembly, workshops, talks and guided tours.     

On Friday July 15, participants will join a march in Podgorica (Montenegro’s capital) to deliver thousands of signatures collected in the petition to the Government of Montenegro and the European Union delegation in the country.

In addition, World BEYOND War will hold its annual global conference online on July 8-10 with speakers from Save Sinjajevina, and a Youth Summit on July 13-14 in the foothills of Sinjajevina.


@SSinjajevina #SaveSinjajevina #Sinjajevina

Sinjajevina Webpage

Sinjajevina Facebook (in serbian)

Invitation to attend The Day of Sinjajevina

[ GUEST POST ] from the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro

Next saturday the 18th is the Day of Sinjajevina, organized by the House of Europe and the EU co-financed project “IRIS – Inspiring rural heritage: sustainable practices to protect and conserve upland landscapes and memories”, in close cooperation with the Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina, which brings together a significant group of representatives of local communities from Sinjajevina.

The Day of Sinjajevina will be hosted by the Capital Podgorica on Argentina Square, in front of the European House, on Saturday, June 18, 2022 at 8:00 PM, with a significant contribution from farmers from Sinjajevina who will present products and culture from their territory. Representatives of local self-governments of Podgorica, Kolašin, Mojkovac, Šavnik and Žabljak, whose administrative borders include Sinjajevina, will take part in the Day of Sinjajevina; Ministries of Economic Development and Tourism, National Tourism Organizations and NGOs Regional Development Agency Bjelasica, Komovi and Prokletije, Center for Initiatives in Sustainable Tourism and Center for
Protection and Study of Birds.

As part of The Day of Sinjajevina, the exhibition “Territories of Life on the Margins. Mediterranean Pasture Commons in the 21st Century” will be presented, which, along with examples from Spain, Morocco and Turkey, also represents Montenegro’s pastoralism through Sinjajevina, and which was inaugurated at the World Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Marseille in September 2021, and continues to be represented in various other Mediterranean
countries (Spain, France, Morocco and now Montenegro).

The exhibition will be accompanied by traditional products from the Sinjajevina highlands, prepared by representatives of the local communities. Informative material on Sinjajevina, and topics related to the values ​​of Sinjajevina and its tourist potentials, which has been done so far by tourist organizations, local governments and non-governmental organizations, will also be presented.

The Sinjajevina highlands - rolling green hills. In the background is a small church. In the foreground a man relaxes on the grass. To the right of the photo there is a sheep and lamb.
The Sinjajevina highlands, Credit: Petar Glomazic

The Day of Sinjajevina is organized with the aim of promoting the natural and cultural values ​​and significance of Sinjajevina, the largest pasture mountain in Montenegro and, together with Durmitor, one of the largest mountain pasture zones in Europe. The Sinjajevina katuns (traditional name for the highland pastoral settlements), are seasonal mountain hamlets still used by several hundred livestock families and thousands of people. It is a way of life that is highly sustainable and increasingly valued for its natural and cultural value by significant international actors and institutions, including the European Union and the United Nations among others. The Katun way of life, as in other European countries, contributes to the creation and conservation of exceptional cultural landscapes with unique biodiversity, important ecosystem services and agricultural systems with exceptional quality products and great eco-tourism potential.

Sinjajevina is one of the five pilot areas in Europe, along with Spain, France, Italy and Great Britain, where the IRIS project is being implemented. The aim of this project is to contribute to the improvement of socially and ecologically sustainable use of mountain areas through transdisciplinary and intersectorial research including the different stakeholders of the territory. The project explores and develops a “living heritage” approach to the protection and promotion (i.e. protection through use) of mountains and neighboring rural areas. In Montenegro, the implementation of the IRIS project (2021-2024) is coordinated by the Laboratory for Environmental Geography (GEODE) from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, in cooperation with a key interdisciplinary team of excellent researchers and professors from the University of Montenegro at the Institute of History, Biotechnical Faculty and Faculty of Law.

Save Sinjajevina Solidarity Camp will be held in Montenegro – July 8-15, 2022

The Save Sinjajevina campaign is petitioning the government of Montenegro to cancel a military training ground. Join the campaign this July in Montenegro to save the pasturelands of Sinjajevina & create a protected area co-governed by the local community!


  • Friday-Sunday, July 8-10: Participate in World BEYOND War’s #NoWar2022 Conference from Sinjajevina (or on-line wherever you are!).
  • Friday, July 8 from 5pm: Travel to the Sinjajevina campsite. Installation of the camp. Dinner with community leaders.
  • Saturday, July 9: For the early birds: cow milking and hiking in the mountains. Workshops about Sinjajevina & connection from the mountains to the online global #NoWar2022 Conference. Campfire: dinner, poetry, & music.
  • Sunday, July 10: Hike to discover the flora of Sinjajevina & collect flowers for flower-crown making workshop. Visit to Katuns (traditional houses).
  • Monday, July 11: Preparation day for Petrovdan! Campers can help or take a free day.
  • Tuesday, July 12: This is the most important day to be in Sinjajevina. Petrovdan is the traditional celebration of Saint Peter’s Day at the Sinjajevina campsite (Savina voda). 100+ people gather every year on this day in Sinjajevina. Transport back to Kolašin and Podgorica for those who may need it.
  • Wednesday-Thursday, July 13-14: World BEYOND War Youth Summit at the foothills of Sinjajevina with 20-25 youth from the Balkans. Campers can join some of the activities of the summit, hike in the mountains or discover the nightlife of Podgorica.
  • Friday, July 15: This is the most important day to be in Podgorica. Save Sinjajevina, accompanied by 100+ Montenegrin supporters & a delegation of international supporters in representation of different NGOs from around the world will travel to the capital of Montenegro (Podgorica) to submit the petition to: the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Defense, and the EU Delegation in Montenegro to officially cancel the military training ground in Sinjajevina. Early morning transport Kolašin-Podgorica.


The camp is 1,800 meters above sea level. Please bring rain gear, warm clothes, a tent, sleeping bag, camping gear, water bottle, and cutlery. If you don’t have a tent or gear, contact us so we can accommodate you.

The community will provide drinking water and lunch and dinner on the 8th, 9th, 10th and 12th.

Please bring additional food for breakfast and snacks and for July 11 (free day) (food that does not require refrigeration and cooking). The organization will provide breakfast and snacks known as “shepherd’s snack,” but just in case, bring something to your liking.

The campsite doesn’t include showers. There is a river, but it has to remain soap-free.


Applications to join the camp must be submitted by July 5 here


The campsite is a 1-hour drive north-west from the nearest town of Kolašin. The closest train station is Kolašin and the nearest airport is Podgorica. By car, it is 6h from Belgrade, 5.5h from Sarajevo, 4h from Pristina, 4h from Tirana and 3.5h from Dubrovnik. Please arrive in Kolašin the 8th OR the 11th of July before 5pm, to allow enough time to be driven in daylight on rough trails up to the camp in Sinjajevina.

Other indications for transport, COVID requirements and other questions, check this full programme.

Save Sinjajevina and the Ministry of Defense meet in Podgorica but doesn’t agree on a deadline for the military ground

Representatives of the Ministry of Defense (left), receive representatives of Save Sinjajevina (right) at the headquarters of the Montenegrin Government

Representatives of the Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina talked with representatives of the Ministry of Defense on April 1, 2022. This is the first meeting of the organization with the representatives of this Ministry after about four years asking for it.

On behalf of the Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina, the meeting was attended by Milan
Sekulović, Novak Tomović, Vlado Šuković and Mileva Jovanović, and on behalf of the
Ministry of Defense, Acting Director General of the Directorate for Logistics, lieutenant Colonel Veljko Malisic, Acting Adviser to the Chief of the General Staff for Civil-Military
Relations, Lieutenant Colonel Radivoje Radović and Chief of the Cabinet of the Minister of Defense, Predrag Lučić.

Representatives of the ministry said that their goal was to cooperate with the local
engagement completely omitted by the previous Government (2016-2020).

“The army must never go against its people, we request an agro-pastoral territory, touristic asset and regional nature park instead of a military training ground”.

Novak Tomović, farmer and member of the Save Sinjajevina Association.

They also pointed out that no military exercises were planned on Sinjajevina in the
present year, which was very welcomed by Save Sinjajevina
, who informed the
representatives of the Ministry that they insist on revoking the decision of creating the military training ground. They asked for an approximate deadline within which this could be achieved. However, the Ministry says that they still cannot specify a deadline, but that they are aware that the previous Ministry / Government made the decision on the military training ground “without taking into account all the elements of importance for its adoption”.

On behalf of the farmers (katunians) from Sinjajevina, Novak Tomović pointed out that the people will always be with their army, but that it must not go against its people. In accordance with that, the Save Sinjajevina representatives concluded that transmitting their clear request and position is that Sinjajevina should not be a military training ground, but an agro-pastoral territory, a touristic asset and a regional nature park.

Nevertheless, short after this symbolic meeting, the Minister of the
Defense, Ms. Injac, was changed by Mr. Konjevic who immediately
announced after meeting with British Ambassador Karen Maddox “the
need to actualize and resolve the issue of the military range in
Sinjajevina, so that the Montenegrin Army could get the range
necessary for building its capacities”. The recent change of the
Defense Minister along with his ambiguous statement and the
Montenegrin army still officially considering Sinjajevina as one of the
options, woke up immediately all the alarms of Sinjajevinan farmers
pushing Save Sinjajevina to make a public statement on the 13 th of
May 2022 to declare “If in the previous government, Deputy Prime
Minister Abazovic was prevented from resolving the issue, now as
Prime Minister he has a historic chance to fulfill his promise and keep
his word”.

Save Sinjajevina urges the Montenegrin Government to negotiate about the cancellation of the military training ground

  • The Save Sinjajevina Association sends a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense asking for a strong decision related to the creation of a NATO’s training camp.
  • Among other demands, the letter calls for a law to make Sinjajevina a protected site co-designed and co-governed by local communities.
  • The Prime Minister, Zdravko Krivokapić, and the Defense Minister, Olivera Injac, declare their willingness to study the case on a round table and agree on the need for an independent scientific study, which Save Sinjajevina argues already is ongoing.
Interview to Olivera Injav, Montenegrin Minister of Defense, regarding Sinjajevina’s future.

The citizens’ initiative Save Sinjajevina sent two letters, one to the Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic and another to the Defense Minister Olivera Injac, with a request for a meeting to discuss and solve the problem of the military training ground still officially existing over Sinjajevina, and establishing a protected area co-governed by its traditional dwellers (farmers of Sinjajevina highlands and of the surrounding areas also using it).

The organization welcomed the first mutual communication by letter but it agrees that this must move to a higher level: “The Ministry of Defense informed us that they are trying to approach the issue of the military training ground in Sinjajevina in a professional and responsible manner. It includes a consultation with scientists and other stakeholders to determine all facts relevant to resolving the issue, but this is still not enough to solve the problem”, states Milan Sekulovik, President of Save Sinjajevina, and reminds that a European independent scientific study touching upon this case and territory is already ongoing, with the clear expectation that its results and conclusions are seriously taken into account by decision-makers and takers at Montenegrin and EU level.

“Consultation with scientists and other stakeholders is still not enough to solve the problem of Sinjajevina”.

Milan Sekulovic, President of the Save Sinjajevina Association.

In fact, in a recent TV interview, Ms. Injac was surprisingly doubtful about the cancellation of the military training ground in Sinjajevina: “it is too early to talk about that, we need to enter into a process of dialogue that may take time. We don’t need deadlines if we want to consider all the positions and stakeholders”.

Given this position of the Ministry and the Government of Montenegro, and in anticipation of the abolition of the decision on the military range in Sinjajevina made in September 2019, Save Sinjajevina insists that the installation of a military training ground in this area would violate an international UNESCO protected area. This is even more striking taking into account that it was inaugurated without any environmental impact assessment, nor a social impact assessment. While the environmental values of the Biosphere Reserve are in great part assured by the continued traditional uses of local communities dwelling in these highlands, and who would be forced out with the military ground along with the conservation values of their traditional uses.

The organization points out that, due to the possible intention of the Ministry of Defense and the Government of Montenegro as well as of NATO, to still use Sinjajevina as a military training ground, the legal procedure for establishing a protected natural area in Sinjajevina that was planned to be realized by 2020 and advised by the study of the Montenegrin Agency for Nature and Environmental Protection, co-funded by the EU and released in 2016, has been completely ran over and unfulfilled. And even if it had been included in the Spatial Plan of Montenegro, the most important official spatial planning instrument of the country. The protected area plan has been frozen and even silenced since the military ground was officially inaugurated. Moreover, the association Save Sinjajevina points at the more than possible illegality of the creation of the military ground as legal experts have started to underline nationally and internationally.

World Beyond War delivers the War Abolisher Awar to Save Sinjajevina and arises a new support campaign

  • The world wide spread pacifist organization World Beyond War recognizes the struggle and perseverance of Sinjajevina inhabitants against the installation of the military ground.
  • Although Montenegrin shepherds temporarily detained the military, there is no national law to protect them from a new attempt.
  • Both organizations arise an updated petition to the EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement and the Ministry of the Defense of Montenegro that you can sign here.

The Save Sinjajevina movement received, last Wednesday the first-ever annual War Abolisher Award by the World Beyond War (WBW) organization. Hundreds of people assisted through the on-line meeting that also included other worldwide examples of pacifist struggles.

Three awards were presented: The Lifetime Organizational War Abolisher of 2021: Peace Boat; The David Hartsough Lifetime Individual War Abolisher of 2021: Mel Duncan and -last but not least- The War Abolisher Award of 2021 to the Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina.

As WBW itself recognizes, “people in Montenegro have put their bodies in the way and prevented military exercises on their land — an amazing victory! But they need our help to make their success permanent and end all efforts to build a NATO military training ground in the mountains of Montenegro.”

A little support from outside Montenegro can make a world of difference, that is why an updated petition to press the European and Montenegrin Government to protect and promote Sinjajevina is being launched. Together with the crowdfunding campaign to support directly the Sinjajevina inhabitants.

Sinjajevina inhabitants demand a national law to protect their way of life from the military camp

  • Families of Sinjajevina’s urge the Montenegrin Government to respect their rights and create a new decree law, cancelling the previous one in 2019, which officially inaugurated  the military training ground in Sinja(je)vina.
  • They claim for the creation of a protected area designed and governed with their full participation, as with their traditional pastoral activity, they are the main guarantors of these ecosystems and unique landscapes.
  • Pedrag Puletic (video below), herb collector and beekeper, highlights the value of the Sinjajevina’s water and herb ressources that are being threatened by the military camp installation.

Sinjajevina’s rich ecology and outstanding landscapes is not only a product of nature. It is also the inherited and cumulated work of pastoralist activities over Sinjajevina’s rich ecology and outstanding landscapes is not only a product of nature. It is also the inherited and cumulated work of pastoralist activities over millennia. Indeed, this area represents an increasingly rare symbiosis between human societies and the environment in Europe, and it stands as a marvelous example of sustainable development and cultural resilience for the world as a whole.

These complex ecosystems with their unique bio-cultural diversity exist because of the thoughtful use and concerted governance by local communities through generations. The ecosystem itself has been molded by – and fully depends on – the wisdom and traditional knowledge of these communities.

“The farmers we have on the basis of our customary law, the right to use katuns located on the common lands of Sinjajevina, which are today property registered in the name of the State”.

At Sinjajevina’s inhabitants meeting.

The people of Sinjajevina know there is no place for the pollution and toxic chemicals of military weapons in a biodiversity hotspot that at the same time is their home and feeds them and their animals. They know there is no place for CO2 emitting fighter jets in an unspoilt nature. “It could have cancer effects and destroy our traditional herb remedies”, complained Puletic.

Save Sinjajevina Receives the 2021 War Abolisher Award

● The international organization World Beyond War announces the Save Sinjajevina Association as the recipient of the War Abolisher of 2021 Award.

● An online presentation and acceptance event, with remarks from representatives the award recipients will take place on October 6, 2021, at 5 a.m. USA Pacific Time, 8 a.m. USA Eastern Time, 2 p.m. Central European Time, and 9 p.m. Japan Standard Time.

● The event is open to all publics and will include presentations of three awards, a musical performance by Ron Korb, and three breakout rooms in which participants can meet and talk with the award recipients. Participation is free. Register here for Zoom link.

● Save Sinjajevina has launched a new global petition to avoid military camp and create a national law to create a protected area at

Source: World BEYOND War.

World BEYOND War is a global nonviolent movement, founded in 2014, to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace. In 2021 World BEYOND War is announcing its first-ever annual War Abolisher Awards.

World BEYOND War intends its award to go to educators or activists intentionally and effectively advancing the cause of war abolition, accomplishing reductions in war-making, war preparations, or war culture. Between June 1 and July 31, World BEYOND War received hundreds of impressive nominations. The World BEYOND War Board, with assistance from its Advisory Board, made the selections.

Background of the Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina

Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina (Građanska inicijativa Sačuvajmo Sinjajevinu in Serbian) is a popular movement in Montenegro that has prevented the implementation of a planned NATO military training ground, blocking military expansion while protecting a natural environment, a culture, and a millenary sustainable way of life. Save Sinjajevina remains vigilant to the danger of ongoing efforts to impose a base on their treasured pasturelands.

Opposing military bases is very difficult, but absolutely crucial to abolishing war. Bases destroy indigenous people’s and local communities’ ways of life and healthier ways to make a living. Stopping the harm done by bases is central to the work of World Beyond War. The Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina is doing the educational and nonviolent activist work that is most needed, and with stunning success and influence. Save Sinjajevina is also making necessary connections between peace, environmental protection, and local community promotion, and between peace and democratic self-governance. If war is ever fully ended, it will be because of work like that being done by the Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina.

Taking part in the online event on October 6, 2021, will include a briefing of past, present and future outcomes and perspectives by representatives of the Save Sinjajevina Movement (Register here for Zoom link).