Milatović and Abazović most in the skies: Who, how much and where traveled on the government plane last year

Danijela Đurović flew nine times, Milo Đukanović four, Andrija Mandić three... MANS welcomed the Government's decision to declassify flight data, but said it was concerned that the purpose of Đukanović's trip to Paris was still unknown

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87 flights cost citizens about 650.000 euros: Government plane at Podgorica airport, Photo: Police Department
87 flights cost citizens about 650.000 euros: Government plane at Podgorica airport, Photo: Police Department
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

President of Montenegro Jakov Milatovic he used the government plane 16 times last year, and the former prime minister Dritan Abazovic 13.

This is shown by the orders for the use and requests for the use of Government aircraft, which were published on the website of the executive branch last week.

The official plane was also used by the former President of the Assembly Danijela Đurović, who traveled nine times, a former head of state Milo Djukanovic he was four years old, the current president of the parliament Andrija Mandic three, and the prime minister Milojko Spajic two.

On average, Milatović traveled the most - he had a flight every 14,12 days. Mandić follows, with an average of 21 days, followed by Abazović, who traveled for an average of 23,38 days. On average, Spajić traveled about once a month, while Đurović and Đukanović traveled for about 33 and 35 days, respectively.

The government declassified "internally" the flight data of its plane for the period from January 1 last year to February 28 this year. That decision made it possible to publish orders for the use of aircraft, reviews of use for all months of 2023 and January 2024, as well as the annual report for 2023. However, the website did not publish orders for trips that took place from December 10, 2023 until the end of year, but there are requirements for use.

According to data provided to TV "Vijesti" from the Main Secretariat of the Government (GSV), 87 flights last year cost citizens around 650.000 euros. This means that, on average, one flight cost a little more than 7.000 euros.

Milatović was in Brussels, Berlin, Belgrade...

Milatović traveled by government plane on official visits to Brussels, Belgrade, Rome, Luxembourg, Ljubljana and Berlin. In addition to these visits, he also flew to the Summit of the European Political Community in Chisinau, the Prespa Forum for Dialogue in Struga, the Summit of the "Three Seas" Initiative in Vijnjus, the Summit of the Leaders of the EU - Western Balkans in Brussels, the meeting of the leaders of the participating countries Brdo-Brioni in Skopje, the summit of the European political community in Granada, the Paris Peace Forum in the capital of France, and the climate summit of the United Nations COP28 UAE in Dubai. For the purposes of that summit, the plane flew between Podgorica - Istanbul, that is, Athens - Podgorica.

Milatović traveled to the summit in the capital of Moldova from Brussels, where he was on an official visit the day before. Also, two flight orders were issued for the trip to the summit in the Belgian capital, as the plane was returned to Podgorica to transport Spajić to Strasbourg. A day later, a plane left Strasbourg for Brussels to return Milatović to Montenegro.

Former Prime Minister Abazović traveled by government plane to the World Economic Forum in Davos, the ministerial REAIM summit in The Hague, the meeting of foreign ministers of the Western Balkan countries in Rome and the NATO meeting in Brussels (one trip), the "Tomorrow Conference" in Belgrade, the recovery conference of Ukraine in London, a working visit to Turkey, a ministerial meeting of the Coordination Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku, the Warsaw Security Forum, as well as the Summit of the Council of Europe (CoE) in Reykjavík. Abazović also used the government plane for lectures he gave at Cambridge, Oxford and the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade.

For the meeting in Baku, the government plane was used on the route Podgorica - Istanbul, while the rest of the trip was carried out by a commercial line. Abazović traveled in the same way on his way back from Baku.

One of the members of the former Abazović's cabinet confirmed to the "News" that one of the orders related to the trip of the former prime minister to the Prespa Forum was not implemented because Milatović also traveled to the same event. "Vijesti" also confirmed that Abazović traveled to the mentioned event in a Ministry of Defense helicopter.

Spajić only to Strasbourg and back

Last year, former and current heads of parliament Danijela Đurović and Andrija Mandić, former president Milo Đukanović, as well as current prime minister Milojko Spajić traveled on the government plane last year.

Đurović "flew" to the Winter Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Vienna, the plenary session of the Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly in Rabat, the meeting of the Presidents of the EU Parliaments in Prague, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in Ankara, on official visits to the USA, Bulgaria and Luxembourg, as well as to the conference of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Baku. The former president of the parliament traveled to Paris on a government plane for the purposes of her visit to the USA. On the way back, she also landed in the capital of France, from where she went on an official visit to Bulgaria.

Two warrants were issued for her trip to the capital of Austria, because the government plane traveled twice - on arrival to that city and on the way back from it. As in Abazović's case, for the trip to the capital of Azerbaijan, a stopover was made in Turkey.

The former head of state Đukanović flew to visit Hungary and Bulgaria, to the Munich Security Conference, the session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva and to the coronation of the king Charles III in London. Đukanović traveled to Bulgaria from Munich, so one warrant was issued for these two events.

In 2023, the current President of the Assembly, Mandić, traveled by government plane to the Meeting of Speakers of the Parliaments of Southeast European Countries on EU Enlargement in Budapest and to an official visit to Turkey. Two orders were issued for trips to Turkey, because the plane was returned to Podgorica.

Last year, Prime Minister Spajić traveled once on the Government plane - to the Meeting of the Committee of Experts for the Evaluation of Measures to Combat Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism SE, which was held in Strasbourg. Two orders were issued for this trip, because the plane was returning to Podgorica.

MANS: One must know where and why officials travel

The Network for the Affirmation of the Non-Governmental Sector (MANS) told "Vijesta" that the important question is not whether Montenegro should have a state plane, but how it is used.

"The rules for use are defined by a special decision that gives the President of the State, the Parliament and the Government quite wide discretionary powers when it comes to making a decision whether a state plane will be used for a trip or whether it will be carried out by a commercial flight. Part of the decision on whether to use the official plane is determined by the agenda of the mentioned officials, as well as the security assessments of the institutions in charge of protected persons", they state from this non-governmental organization, adding that in the previous period the state plane was also used for private purposes. but also that those suspicions were never fully investigated by the prosecution.

One example, they remind, is Đukanović's flight to Paris in January 2020, after which the former head of state continued his private trip to Miami on a commercial flight. And while MANS welcomes the Government's decision to declassify information about the flights of officials who came to power after 2020, it says that the fact that Đukanović's flight to Paris, i.e. the purpose of that trip, is still unknown to the general public is still worrying.

In this non-governmental organization, they believe that it is very important for the public to have information about which destinations the highest state officials travel to, and not only because of the costs of those trips.

"The example of Đukanović and the 'Pandora Papers' case show that his and his family's business did not take place only in Montenegro, but that there was a whole network of offshore companies and evil trusts in multiple destinations with the obvious intention of hiding that part of the business from the Montenegrin public . That is why it is extremely important that we have information about which destinations are visited by Đukanović and other high-ranking state officials", say MANS, adding that even after the change of government in 2020, officials who were once in the opposition will find it difficult to renounce "what are the benefits of public functions".

"And while official trips are part of the necessary expenses incurred by every state administration, we believe it is important that the amount and justification of these expenses be communicated to citizens in a timely and detailed manner in order to ensure full transparency of state budget spending," they stated.

GSV: We will continue to publish flight information

GSV did not answer the "News" why the Government plane is used for timely scheduled events such as international conferences, summits, etc., when in those cases it would be possible to travel by commercial flights.

They told the paper that although they have an official plane, they do not have the authority to determine whether it is being used appropriately.

"However, as the public was interested in the publication of information about flights with this plane, in the coming period, the publication of information about flights and previous Government convocations will continue," they said.

By plane from Podgorica to Tivat

During 2023, the government plane flew twice from one Montenegrin airport to another.

On his way back from Cambridge, Abazović landed in Tivat, and as explained to "Vijesta" by his former cabinet, this was done because the former prime minister spoke at the closing of the Western Balkan ESG summit that was held in that city.

Also, the former prime minister flew to the summit in Reykjavik from a smaller Montenegrin airport, because, as his former cabinet said, he had previously participated in a panel on innovation, blockchain and biotechnology held in Luštica.

It was also flown for servicing

Except for official trips, the orders refer to the aircraft's departures for servicing in Nuremberg, Malta and Ljubljana.

In 2023 and 2024, 68 orders were given for the use of aircraft, of which 51 last year and 17 this year, the declassification decision says.

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