Montenegro did not resolve 398 applications for obtaining the so-called golden passport, as part of the economic citizenship program that was officially abolished at the end of last year, the report of the European Commission (EC) showed.
That document states that on June 15th of this year, 398 applications were still pending.
– It is up to Montenegro to ensure that pending applications under the recently abolished investor citizenship scheme are reviewed and processed in accordance with the highest possible security standards. In this regard, in May, the Government adopted a decision on the formation of a Coordinating Body for the monitoring and implementation of pending applications within that scheme – the EC report states.
The investor citizenship scheme was discontinued at the end of last year.
– In the period from January 2019 to December last year, 556 requests were submitted. Until June 15th, the Government made 954 positive decisions, and 398 applications were still unresolved – the report stated.
The Montenegrin passport, which allows travel to 124 countries without a visa, is mainly sought by citizens of Russia and China. For the passport, it was necessary to invest at least EUR 250,000, mostly in residential areas within hotel complexes.
It is disputed that Montenegro officially abolished the economic citizenship program at the end of last year and informed the EU about it. However, there are still 400 requests in the procedure that are being resolved and which arouse the suspicion of the EU, but also of Washington, because the applicants are mostly Russian citizens.
In the middle of last year, the former government of Prime Minister Dritan Abazović offered Brussels to continue the project and that the money be serviced to repay the Chinese loan, but that idea was rejected. Therefore, the government, through the “backdoor”, continued that project through the alleged resolution of applications submitted before December 31st last year. With this move, the technical government risks that Montenegro’s visa-free regime with the EU will be abolished.
The EU has repeatedly called on Montenegro to cancel the economic citizenship program, “due to risks such as money laundering, terrorist financing and organized crime.”
Abazović’s government has repeatedly announced that the economic citizenship program has brought investments of EUR 300 million to Montenegro and an additional EUR 70 million to the state coffers, from paid fees.
Montenegro is one of the countries that is closely monitored by the European Commission due to the potential risks caused by economic citizenships. This was published in the EC Report on the monitoring of visa-free regimes.