Montenegro strives to become full-fledged maritime country

03/08/2006

Newly independent Montenegro has set its sights on joining the International Maritime Organisation.

By Antonela Arhin for Southeast European Times – 03/08/06

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Montenegro's port of Bar handles 95 per cent of the country's maritime activities. [AFP]

Despite a successful entrance into the arena of international organisations, Montenegro has yet to become a maritime country. The government is now working to change this by obtaining full-fledged membership in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

According to Maritime Safety Department Director Krsto Rakocevic, IMO membership would both open many doors and bring new responsibilities. The country would have to comply with, and implement, all the conventions previously acknowledged by the former state union of Serbia-Montenegro.

The process of attaining the status of a maritime country is a very delicate one, hard to obtain and easy to lose, Rakocevic said. Montenegro has a number of ports, one of which -- Bar -- handles 95 per cent of maritime activities.

The others are Bijela, Zelenika, Kotor, Tivat, Risan and Budva. Currently, Montenegro has a fleet of more than 40 ships, with a total carrying capacity of 1m tonnes.

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According to Rakocevic, the country possesses the equipment and ability needed to comply with international standards. He said that the pending IMO membership could be an outstanding opportunity for Montenegro to organise an efficient team and institutions that could register foreign ships under the Montenegrin flag as well.

The issue is significant in part because of implications for the economy. Sea-related industries, such as tourism, shipping, fishing, port activities and seabed exploration, have the potential to create new jobs and reduce poverty.

The UN established the IMO in 1948, in order to internationalise sea safety regulations. The organisation originally bore the name of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (IMCO), but was renamed in 1982.

A letter from the IMO last month said Montenegro is entitled to sail with its flag. The newly independent state has already joined a number of other international bodies and conventions -- becoming the OSCE's 56th participating state, the 192nd member of the UN and the 179th member of the International Labor Organisation.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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