Montenegro is the country of future
Mr Veselin Mijač, originally from Montenegro, has been living in Sweden for decades. He is one of the winners of the prize for the improvement of economic partnership. He has recently been elected as the president of the first Association of Montenegrin people in Sweden – “Sloga”.
In the past three years, Mr Mijač invested around €45 million in Montenegro. In the interview for Dnevne novine he says that he is going to carry some new projects in our country and provide job for the young people Based on the experience of the companies he owns ( Ramada, Mall of Montenegro), he finds our youth very capable.
“Montenegro is the country of future. I believe that in 10-15 years every citizen will be living in economic well-being. The progress that Montenegro has made so far is huge, but we still have to engage more so that all the resources and potentials of Montenegro are used efficiently. Connecting with our emigrants is a great idea”, says Mr Mijač.
Dnevne novine: A couple of days ago, Diaspora Administration announced that you were winner of the prize for the contribution to the improvement of economic partnership in Montenegro. This prize will be handed to you on 29 July. What does this award mean to you?
Mr Mijač: It’s a great honor for me and I am proud of the fact that my business activities in Montenegro have been recognised. This award motivates me even more and gives me incentive to the new plans I have in store.
Dnevne novine: You’ve also been elected as member of the Council for the cooperation with Diaspora. As a Montenegrin who has been living in Sweden for a long time, what is it that you are going to advocate for in the Council?
Mr Mijač: This is something new for me, I’ll need some time to get familiar with the functioning of the Council. On the other hand, I believe that my many-decade long experience in working and living in a developed state might be useful. I ant our diaspora to be finally identified in the world.
Dnevne novine: What should Montenegro do for our emigrants and what can our diaspora do for the homeland?
Mr Mijač: The country has different ways to tie its people to the homeland, to form strong bonds, to mutual benefit. The priority is to animate young population of our diaspora through different cultural and sports events. We have got a lot of associations in the world, we only need events – camps, gatherings, visits, especially during summer holidays. That way Montenegro will get closer to young descendants of our emigrants and acquaint them with the Montenegrin culture and tradition. With time, younger population of emigrants will start to see Montenegro as their homeland, they will start talking about Montenegro with their friends or business partners and then they will visit Montenegro. That’s how it all starts.
Dnevne novine: Media reported that you had initiated the creation of the first Association of Montenegrin emigrants in Sweden – “Sloga”. What will be your priority? Opening a consulate in Stockholm maybe?
Mr Mijač: Exactly. This is the first Montenegrin association in Sweden since the renewal of independence. Our diaspora in Sweden requires better organisation so that we can impact decision-makers in Sweden and Montenegro.
Dnevne novine: What do our people in Sweden expect from their homeland?
Mr Mijač: They want to be seen and heard, they want their homeland to take care of them. We want Montenegro to know that we are part of Montenegrin society.
Dnevne novine: How important are such associations from the aspect of the preservation of national identity of Montenegrin people who live in other countries and from the aspect of the promotion of the homeland at international stage?
Mr Mijač: Very important – from every aspect. Firstly, you send a clear message that you haven’t forgotten your country of origin and that you are willing to cherish tradition, culture… Secondly, you have a place where you meet, hold events where young people get to know more about Montenegrin culture and tradition. That’s how the story of national identity is built.
Dnevne novine: You have business in Sweden, you are the owner of Savana company that bought Ramada hotel and Mall of Montenegro and you bought Europoint building… How much have you invested in Montenegro so far? Are there going to be some new projects?
Mr Mijač: We are already making investments. I moved to Sweden when I was 14 and, with hard work and commitment, I have accumulated capital that I started investing in Montenegro. I have invested €45 million in the past three years. It’s the money I earned, I didn’t get into debts. By 2025, I believe I will have invested a great part of my capital in Montenegro. I want to expand my business and employ as many people as possible.
Dnevne novine: What motivated you to invest in Montenegro?
Mr Mijač: I made that decision in 2006, when Montenegro regained its independence. That has always been my dream – Montenegro as independent country. That renewed country – that has always been my dream.
Dnevne novine: Judging by your projects and investments, you really care about your homeland. In your opinion, what does Montenegro need for faster economic development?
Mr Mijač: Yes, I really care, I want Montenegro to get stronger economically and I want every citizen to reap the benefits of his/her own work and to be proud of it. And that time is close. Small enterprises in different areas where young people run their business are the main resource. It’s simple math – 100 such enterprises with four employees and you already have 400 employed people.
Dnevne novine: In one of the previous interviews, you said that your investments will gradually create space for other Swedish companies to invest in Montenegro. Are Swedish businessmen interested in investing in Montenegro?
Mr Mijač: Swedish people are very sceptical when it comes to investing in Western Balkans. The current instability affects the interest of serious investors. But Montenegro has certain advantage as it’s NATO member and has gone far in EU accession negotiations. My partners in several big projects are interested in Montenegro and, hopefully, we are going to carry out some projects soon.
Dnevne novine: Are you satisfied with the employees in your companies in Montenegro? We often hear that we lack qualified workforce that is able to respond to the demands of markets and investors. What does your experience tell you?
Mr Mijač: I am glad you asked that as people usually tend to forget that employees are the ones who are the most important factor of any company’s success. My employees motivated me to invest even more. Compliments for them. That’s what I have to say about the quality of their work.
Dnevne novine: Tell us something about yourself. How often do you come to Montenegro? What does Montenegro look like to you now, after so much time?
Mr Mijač: What could I tell about myself? I guess I’m in my creation phase right now and engagement in Montenegro provides stimulus for me. I visit Montenegro several times a year and I always spend summer vacation in Montenegro, with my family. I think that connecting with those who left Montenegro long long time ago is one of the great chances for the development of Montenegro.