The port of Bar, a part of the territory, maybe even the railway, up for grabs
One move could save the country 128 million euros.Source: B92, Tanjug, HRT
Montenegrin Minister of Finance Milojko Spajić, in a letter sent to the Chinese Exim Bank, which Pobjeda had an insight into, requested an extension of the availability of credit fund period, a grace period, and a three-year repayment period.
The letter was written after Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic asked the European Parliament for help in order to, according to Pobjeda, "liberate Montenegro from the domination of China and Russia".
Russia has so far responded by stopping all tourist flights to Montenegro, and the Chinese Exim Bank has initially agreed to the first request and extended the deadline for credit funds withdrawal for the completion of the first section of the highway, which already expired on April 14.
Spajic said that the move saved the country 128 million euros.
In its text, Pobjeda criticizes the tone and content of Minister’s letter, which, according to the sources, is based on quotes from the loan agreement between the government and Exim Bank, published in the Official Gazette in 2014, which "Spajic considered appropriate to express his need for another three-year extension".
Earlier, the Minister of Economic Development, Jakov Milatovic, said that he was convinced that Montenegro and China is on the way to agree on debt repayment.
Negotiations with the Chinese on postponing the repayment of the principal debt are underway, part of the debt due this year. Negotiations are also held with the EU institutions for refinancing the loan with cheaper European loans. Meanwhile, construction works continued at a slower pace. However, it is disputable - in the case of a dispute with the Chinese, that the Montenegrin parliament does not arbitrate the case. According to Chinese courts - if dissatisfied with the payment dynamics, China could demand payment of the entire principal. That could lead to the occupation of the port of Bar or part of the territory, and maybe even the railway.
"More than 90 percent of the highway is complete, and the most demanding section should be completed by the end of the year. I also think that a way will be found to negotiate the postponement of the principal repayment," Milatovic said.
He also added that the EU is also interested to refinance the Montenegrin loan and repay the Chinese debt.
Milatović reiterated, as reported by the HRT portal, that it is not good that the loan was agreed in dollars. He expressed hope that Montenegro will become the next EU member, with Croatia playing a significant role.
Reduced to an airline destination
Milatović emphasized that Montenegro, due to the lack of a highway, was reduced to being an airline destination exclusively, HRT reported.
The Minister expressed his optimism when it comes to the upcoming tourist season, since the situation with the coronavirus has stabilized, with prospects of mass immunization soon to start.
"Entry into Montenegro is free for bordering countries: Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo and Northern Macedonia. The balance between economy and health is very important, especially for tourism-oriented countries. We had a very hard time surviving last year, the average net salary is around 530 euros, the economy has dropped by more than 15 percent. The government is in process of adopting the fifth set of measures to help entrepreneurship," he said.
The bond issuance of 750 million euros gave the government "some breathing space" to survive the next period, Milatović added.
“We have to be optimistic,” he concluded.
Russians as an important driver
Speaking about the sale of Montenegrin real estate to the Russians, he said that the Russians are an important part of the economy. However, it is of vital importance, as he added, to improve democratization and the rules of the game, and that everyone in the region must communicate in order to find better solutions.
Saint Stefan, he said - was not sold, but leased, and locals and investors are in negotiations to open the beaches for the general public.
Milatovic expressed his satisfaction with the meetings he had with Croatian businessmen and ministers Zdravko Maric and Tomislav Coric. The next meeting on the agenda is the one with the Minister of Tourism Ms. Nikolina Brnjac.
The purpose of the meetings is to present the vision of the new Montenegrin government in order to improve relations.