For reasons probably known by my distinguished readers, I haven’t had sufficient time to post any new material to my blog. Mostly because of my hobby, I used to write about various economic and political ideas. As a public servant, challenges I face today have eclipsed my extra-curricular activities as analyst and theorist.
A new administration has been established in Montenegro, which was at once a time of great achievement and great ordeal for our country: We were admitted into the anteroom of the European Union when our own homes were threatened by the worst floods in history. At that time, people of Montenegro have shown great strength, determination and unity to face that catastrophe. My government shall endeavor virtues which have been so plainly demonstrated by our people.
What changes can we expect?
The concept of “change” in politics is very vague. With lack of meaningful context, “change” is an empty buzzword. It might capture people’s imagination, but it can hardly be translated into policy. I will not try to win sympathy by talking through my hat. Therefore, I would like to clarify some things right at the outset:
It was a great honor and a professional challenge to serve as former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s deputy prime minister and finance minister. The most valuable lesson I learned during these past years, was how to set objectives and to accomplish them through politics. My government will continue to work toward the goal that my predecessor set: To achieve a peaceful and prosperous future for Montenegro in the EU.
I won’t say anything new by saying that on the other hand, a government’s character is determined by the person at the helm. In this sense, a new era is indeed upon us: A new style, a new attitude and new ideas. The former cabinet’s successes will serve as a benchmark for new Government to pursue even better results.
The core of our past, current and future policy, can be summed up in three words: growth, integration and transparency. Growth will arise from our low taxes and smart investment policies. The administration will spend public money warily and wisely. The future abounds with opportunities for ever-closer integration with the Euro-Atlantic community: Montenegro is a member of NATO’s Membership Action Plan and the newest candidate for EU membership.
We cannot consider transparency and accountability as passive concepts in democracy. Montenegrins must be aware of the fact that their government is worthy of their trust, and that we are acting solely on their interests. Montenegro being small in population, it shouldn’t, couldn’t and it won’t have a government that operates in isolation from its own society.
In order to engage the public more closely into the democratic process, my government has launched the “Consultation Days” sessions, where we discuss all kinds of policy issues with stakeholders. NGOs, trade unions, employers, religious organizations, academics, and representatives of minorities, war veterans and media took part in these Consultations. It is my hope that the benefits of these meetings have resonated across the country, from Pljevlja to Ulcinj, from Herceg Novi to Rozaje.
I want Montenegro to be an innovative country whose skills will make other countries more envious. My government can help achieve this goal through reforming the education system; in addition, the brand-new Ministry of Science will help Montenegro strengthen its R&D capacities. When I say this I mean, that perhaps the single most important step we can take is to provide people with the tool they need for their own prosperity: the Internet.
Universal Internet access is a precondition of competitiveness. At present, fewer than half of Montenegrins have access to the Internet. I want and I will endeavor in increasing this proportion rapidly to total nationwide coverage. The Internet is the most effective way for citizens to keep themselves informed, participate in the political process, and to keep their politicians accountable. It will allow people to vault over the trenches of bureaucracy and it will reduce the distance between citizens and decision makers. My cabinet will rely heavily on the opportunities the Internet provides.
A great statesman once offered his people blood, toil, tears and sweat in his inaugural address. The world has changed a lot since then: It now only demands our toil and sweat. This is a sacrifice we are willing to make.