Turkey will provide consular assistance to Montenegrin nationals traveling or residing in 25 countries where Montenegro has no diplomatic or consular missions starting from August 7 following the approval of a bilateral agreement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday.
According to the agreement, obtained by Nordic Monitor, the following 25 countries are specified as third countries: Bahrain, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cambodia, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Dominic, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mali, Oman, Palestine, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.
Turkey also promises to help Montenegrin nationals in the event of detention, arrest or imprisonment as well as repatriation. Montenegrin citizens can visit Turkish diplomatic missions with a request for a travel document. The Turkish Embassy in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, is designated as the main channel of communication between Turkish missions and the Foreign Ministry of Montenegro. The agreement, which makes Montenegro the first and only country that benefits from Turkey’s consular services abroad, will remain in force indefinitely unless either party decides to terminate it.karadağ
The agreement, which is proof of Turkey’s influence in the Balkans, also points to Turkey’s extensive diplomatic network, especially in Africa. According to official data provided by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu during a budget session in the Turkish parliament in January, the number of foreign representations, which was 163 in 2002, has reached a total of 248 including 142 embassies, 13 permanent representations, 91 consulates general, one consular agency and one trade office thanks to Turkey’s so-called active diplomacy in Africa and the Americas.
Turkey and Montenegro have enjoyed close relations since the latter’s independence in 2006. The smallest country in the Balkans, Montenegro, has a population of 630,000, a quarter of whom are Muslim, who have close ties to Turkey . Moreover, some 5,000 Turkish citizens are resident in the country.
Turkey is eyeing Montenegro as a springboard for expanding its defense industry in southeastern Europe. Nordic Monitor previously reported on another agreement that established a cooperation mechanism in the defense industry which covers such areas as industrial production, procurement and maintenance of military and defense materiel as well as technical and logistical support, information sharing and research in the field.
An attraction of Montenegro, which has increased in popularity in recent years, is its easy procedure for obtaining residence and work permits, including relatively simple conditions to become a citizen. Montenegro encourages property ownership for foreigners in exchange for residence permits. That also makes it a preferred destination for some Turkish citizens who want to have the passport of another country in case they have to leave Turkey.
It is also known that a large group of businessmen and bureaucrats who have become rich thanks to their corrupt relations with the Erdoğan government have already purchased properties in Montenegro as a safe destination to where they can travel without a visa.
Sedat Peker, a convicted gang leader and former ally of Erdoğan who has been setting the agenda in Turkey for a while with YouTube videos watched by millions was residing in Montenegro until he recently moved to Dubai.
Montenegro is one of the countries that Turkey helped the most during the pandemic. In addition, the state-run Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) plays an important role in the financing of projects especially aimed at the Muslim population.
“Many Montenegrins apply for scholarships in Turkey. More than 400 of our students have studied in Turkey. This interest is increasing day by day. TIKA has carried out approximately 300 projects in our country. These were very important projects in the fields of health, culture, and education. They strengthen the relations between the two countries,” President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency in June.
Turkey is happy with the representation of the Muslim population in parliament, which is one of the highest in Europe. A free trade agreement between the two countries was also approved by Erdoğan in April.