Montenegro’s foreign policy is underpinned by three key foreign policy priorities:
Apart from the Euro-Atlantic orientation enshrined in the Constitution, this foreign policy direction is further reconfirmed by international commitments stemming from key international documents:
Montenegro is committed to pursuing the UN Agenda 2030, as testified by the expedience in nationalising the sustainable development goals (SDGs 2030) into the national policy and legal framework by adopting the first National Sustainable Development Strategy 2007-2012, then the intensive methodological and comprehensive analytical efforts across the society which led to the adoption of the National Sustainable Development Strategy 2016-2030 NSDS. Intending to implement as best possible the sustainable development agenda and the principles of the ecological state enshrined in the Constitution, Montenegro was one of the 22 UN members that participated in the development of the Voluntary National Review (VNR) in 2016.
The sustainable development goals requiring specific foreign policy efforts include the SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions and SDG 17 – Partnership for the goals, particularly in reference to the following actions
SDG 16 (16.8) Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance
SDG 17 (17.14) Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development
In the NSDS 2016-2030 these goals and actions are elaborated in the thematic area 5 Governance for sustainable development which includes:
Strategic goal 5.3: Reform the institutional organisation of governance for sustainable development
5.3.1 Reinforce political support for sustainable development policy SDG16 (16.8), 17 (17.14)
Strategic goal 5.4: Establish the system for monitoring sustainability of national development, including SDG tracking
The implementation of the Integrated UN Programme for Montenegro 2017-2021 – Development Assistance Framework – UNDAF, with 4 key priority areas: Democratic Governance; Environmental Sustainability; Social Inclusion; and Economic Governance is quite significant in pursuit of this strategic goal. It was developed concurrently with the NSDS, and is managed at the strategic level by the Joint Steering Committee, co-chaired by the Foreign Minister and the UN Resident Coordinator.
 AD 23/12 CONF –ME 20/12 GENERAL EU POSITION Ministerial meeting opening the Intergovernmental Conference on the Accession of Montenegro to the European Union (Brussels, 29 June 2012)
Candidate countries for EU accession need to meet the so-called Copenhagen criteria defined by the European Council in 1993. Political criteria imply that candidate countries, in addition to stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities, need to be committed to good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation and alignment of its foreign policy with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy
Chapter 31 – Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Concerning EU foreign, security and defence policy, EC Report from 2021 indicates that Montenegro has achieved a good level of preparation and it that has made some progress, including in the area of non-proliferation. It also indicates that Montenegro continued to fully align with EU positions and participate in EU crisis management missions and operations under the common security and defence policy, but also states that in the coming year, Montenegro should maintain its full alignment with the EU foreign, security and defence policy.
The Report, as well, takes note that Montenegro still maintains a bilateral immunity agreement with the United States, granting U.S. citizens exemptions from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. In doing so, Montenegro does not comply with the EU common positions on the integrity of the Rome Statute or with the related EU guiding principles on bilateral immunity agreements.
Chapter 30 – External relations, as the third provisionally closed chapter
Concerning European standards on external relations, EC Report indicates that Montenegro has achieved some progress in terms of full implementation of CEFTA Additional Protocol (AP) 5 on trade in goods, and launch of AP 7 negotiations on dispute settlement. Concerning Chapter 30, EC recommends to Montenegro to adopt the draft law on export control of dual-use goods in line with the EU acquis, ratify and implement CEFTA AP 6 on trade in services and to actively participate in the implementation of actions under the Common Regional Market – MAP REA.
EU Global Strategy adopted in June 2016 focuses on a vision of strong European Union with a common action of all EU Member States, and sets 5 priorities in this respect: 1. Union security, 2. Investment in building state and societal resilience, particularly of the surrounding regions in the East and the South, (This pillar includes the enlargement policy for the Western Balkans and Turkey) 3. Integrated approach to conflicts and crisis, 4. Support to cooperative regional orders and 5. Global governance for the 21st century, with the focus on a rules-based multilateral international order. The European External Affairs Service (EEAS), among other things, monitors the strategy implementation, with the 2020 report being the most recent available.
One of the 6 political priorities of the new European Commission 2019-2024 is A Stronger Europe in the World, which contains the following areas: foreign policy; European neighbourhood policy; international cooperation and development; humanitarian aid, civil protection; trade policy; security and defence.
Tracking progress on the SDGs 2030BTI Governance Index
The international cooperation is one of the criteria for assessing governance efficiencyCIFP
An academic model for tracking key aspects of foreign policy performance
Montenegro’s foreign policy is strongly determined by its membership in key international organizations (UN; OSCE; NATO), pre-accession negotiations with the EU, as well as by signed international treaties that are a consequence / result of its membership in these organizations. Accordingly, the fundaments of Montenegro’s foreign policy are recognized in the constitutional provisions and obligations arising from ratified international treaties, whereby the mechanisms for implementing those priorities are primarily defined by the Law on Foreign Affairs of Montenegro (“Official Gazette of Montenegro”, no. 70/2017) and the Law on International Restrictive Measures (“Official Gazette of Montenegro”, No. 56/2018 and 72/2019), other regulations in the field of international cooperation, including the Law on Foreign Nationals and the Law on International Development Cooperation and International Humanitarian Aid.
Montenegro still does not have a comprehensive foreign policy strategy that would systematically identify potential challenges in the field of foreign policy and accordingly define a plan to address them, thus strengthening Montenegro’s international position and its ability to act in the international arena for the benefit of its citizens.
From the aspect of existing sectoral policies, it is important to point out the Strategy of Cooperation with Diaspora-Emigrants for the period 2020-2023, which is focusing on strengthening ties with the diaspora, their better organization through associations and strengthening their connections with Montenegro.
Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the process coordinator, under the suggestions of the Government’s General Secretariat, improved methodology-wise the Implementation Plan for the Recommendations Stemming from the 3rd Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).