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)
In the EC 2019 Report, Montenegro is recognised as a country committed to constructive bilateral relations with other enlargement countries and neighbouring EU Member States. The Report notes that Montenegro has signed bilateral conventions on regional cooperation under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with all partners with an SAA in force, the last one being with Kosovo in May 2019. On the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), Montenegro records good progress (100% alignment), and the EC reports that Montenegro supports the EU Global Strategy and continues to align with all relevant High Representative declarations on behalf of the EU and Council decisions. This was supported by further amendment to the Law on International Restrictive Measures to provide for the freezing of assets of persons from the national list of legal and natural persons suspected of terrorism financing. On the other hand, the Report 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
The 2019 EC Report takes note of Montenegro’s good level of preparation in this area, given the most recent legislative and institutional set-up for international development cooperation and humanitarian aid, and the ratification of CEFTA Additional Protocol 5 on Trade Facilitation.
In the coming period, Montenegro is recommended to adopt legislation on export controls of dual-use goods, and to implement actions under the multiannual action plan for the development of the Regional Economic Area in the Western Balkans – 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 2019 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
Apart from the constitutional definitions and above international treaties, Strategic priorities of Montenegro’s foreign policy are also highlighted in the Medium-term Government Work Programme 2018-2020, where Priority 6 Montenegro – a country with strong international position implies that Montenegro is to improve its regional position and the international reputation as a credible NATO ally and a prospective member of the European Union.
This implies meeting not only all the commitments from accession talks with the EU, including the preparation for effective use of EU structural and investment funds, but also: fostering regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations, as well as overall linkages with the EU and Member States and NATO allies, politically and economically influential partners through strengthening the network of our diplomatic and consular offices. It is, likewise, important to deepen the linkages between Montenegro as the country of origin and its Diaspora and their associations. The means to achieving these goals include: – persistent strengthening of the diplomatic and consular network with a view to creating the institutional framework for representing the interests of Montenegro and its citizens abroad; – active participation in and chairing of regional initiatives and mechanisms, establishing the expatriate base with the aim of their more effective integration.
Montenegro still lacks the comprehensive Foreign Policy Strategy, but these priorities are primarily pursued by virtue of the Law on Foreign Affairs (Official Gazette of Montenegro 70/2017) and the Law on International Restrictive Measures (Official Gazette of Montenegro 56/2018 and 72/2019), and other pieces of legislation governing international cooperation, including the Law on Foreign Nationals and the Law on International Development Cooperation and International Humanitarian Aid.
Among sector-specific strategies, the proposed Strategy for Cooperation with the Diaspora 2020-2023 with the 2020-2021 Action Plan was recently submitted to the Government. 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). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in charge of implementing the Strategy for Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction 2016-2020.