Montenegrin government undertakes measures to mitigate bad circumstances
We spoke with diplomats about how they organized activities during the pandemic, how they survived the crisis, and most importantly, how their countries reacted to the pandemic and what measures they implemented it to counteract it. Our interlocutor today is H.E. Tarzan Milošević, Ambassador of Montenegro to Serbia. “The Government of Montenegro has adopted a series of measures grouped into two packages – the first which aim to help small and medium-sized enterprises and the second intended for the tourism industry,“ he said.
How did Montenegro prepare for the period after the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in terms of tourism and the upcoming summer season, considering that a large part of Montenegro’s GDP is derived from tourism?
The National Coordination Body and the Government of Montenegro acted in a very responsible way towards the pandemic that affected the whole world, including our country, which both suffered huge damages as a result of the pandemic. There are several economic branches in Montenegro that are directly or indirectly related to tourism. As a result of the pandemic, the movement of people has completely stopped which, in turn, has paralyzed the activities related to tourism. Compared to last season, which was one of the best in the history of Montenegro, before the pandemic, we had expected that the upcoming season would be at the same or higher level. Although the coronavirus has resulted in the cancellation of most tourist arrangements, the Government of Montenegro has devised two sets of measures – for small and medium-sized enterprises and the tourism sector.
We are trying to continue with a normal life. There are practically no more coronavirus patients in hospitals any longer. We expect that, in the next period, we will come up with a clear plan for how tourists will come and stay in Montenegro, and I believe that July, August and September will be crucial. I believe that we will have enough tourists, although not like last year, and that we will be able to generate sa much revenue as last year. We expect the first tourists to arrive in the second half of June, at least that’s what the Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Montenegro want to see. All we can do is to fight for every tourist, make them feel welcome and assure them that Montenegro is a safe destination. There will be certain conditions in place regarding tourists which will be defined very soon. Public enterprise Morsko Dobro opened the beaches on May 18. There can be two loungers and one parasol for every 16 square metres of the beach. Further developments regarding the virus and the pandemic will determine whether these measures will change.
How did you organize diplomatic activities at the Montenegrin Embassy in Belgrade?
It was business as usual at our Embassy as we had many Montenegrin and Serbian citizens working and residing in Montenegro that had to return to our country. The Serbian Interior Ministry, Health Ministry and Defence Ministry were very understanding of this situation. The Serbian Foreign Ministry and the Coordination Body had excellent solutions for transporting people through the Republic of Serbia. State services were mobile 24/7. Also, the Serbian authorities were understanding regarding people coming to Serbia for medical treatment or urgent private needs. Unfortunately, in terms of diplomatic relations, we had no contact with our colleagues apart from talking to them occasionally and asking them for their health, family and the current situation, what they were planning to do in the next period and what awaits us all once the pandemic subsides.
How do you spend your private time during the pandemic?
Apart from the time I spend working at the embassy and maintaining the aforementioned contacts, I had a lot of spare time, so I used it to read a little bit, surf the Internet, and play chess. I read some new books but also went back to some old books, i.e. trying to stay up to date as far as literature is concerned.
What will you do first after the state of emergency is lifted?
Since I have been separated from my family, who is in Podgorica, for quite a long time, my wish would be to see them and be with them, when the opportunity arises. I would like to meet up with my friends here in Belgrade and Serbia. We have been fully compliant with all the measures devised by the Serbian government because we wanted the number of people ill with the coronavirus and the victims to be the lowest possible. I would like to express my condolences to the families of the victims and say that I am sorry that this has happened. I would also like to say that government measures have probably prevented more people from falling ill and dying.