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News 12 Apr 12

Passport Request Reignites Montenegrin Citizenship Debate

President’s proposal for former opposition politician to be restored to citizenship has stirred fresh debate about the provisions that allow passports to be obtained on favourable terms.

Milena Milosevic

President Filip Vujanovic on Tuesday urged the Ministry of Interior to return a Montenegrin passport to Predrag Popovic, the former chair of People’s Party.

Popovic was stripped of his citizenship last spring when he publicly admitted he had taken a Serbian passport and refused to renounce it.

Montenegrin legislation allows double citizenship only in exceptional circumstances, on the grounds of the state’s national interests. That was the ground for Vujanovic’s proposal.

In his announcement, the President reminded people that Popovic had served six mandates as a member of parliament and was deputy speaker for three years.

In accordance with the provision that some people can obtain citizenship without meeting the usually strict conditions, a number of well known Serbs have obtained passports.

But many analysts question the applicability of this provision to Popovic’s case. “I hope a political deal between the ruling DPS party and the People’s Party does not lie behind Vujanovic’s move," Zdravko Vujovic, head of a local NGO, told Radio Antena M.

Many others also suspect that the real reasons for the President’s intervention are political. This is because the People’s Party supports the ruling DPS-led local government in the city of Podgorica.

A mandate that this party won in Saturday’s local elections in the town of Herceg Novi might also determine whether the DPS takes power there from the opposition, which traditionally holds power in the town.

Popovic himself has officially quit politics and has been allowed to stay in Montenegro as a foreigner with temporary residence.

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