The government of Montenegro officially announced it took a 50 million € loan from the Hungarian-owned CKB bank. It happened just three days after another Hungarian bank, EXIM, confirmed a 110 million € loan to Republika Srpska to fill the gaps in its budgets. Regarding Montenegro, it is not the first investment of a Hungarian company in the country, which questions Montenegrin desire to become an EU member, despite the fact Hungary belongs to the European family. 

Aleksandar Damjanović, Minister of Finance of Montenegro, explained that the loan would be repaid within five years, with a year grace period of one year and a fixed annual interest rate of 7 .5 percent.

Damjanović stated that “since the adoption of this year’s budget rebalance, Montenegro has borrowed a total of 55 million euros, and a new loan has been agreed with CKB bank to secure the fiscal reserve for the next year”.

Even though the loan from the Hungarian-owned CKB bank is a significant investment of Hungarian companies in Montenegro this year, it is not the first investment of Hungary in the country. 

Since Montenegrin independence in 2006, Hungarian firms have invested more than half a billion euros in the country, especially in the banking and telecommunications sectors.

“In August 2006, Hungary’s OTP bought 100% of Montenegro’s Commercial Bank, CKB – one of the largest banks in the country with a 44% market share and 150,000 customers in a state of around 620,000 people. In 2009, OTP purchased 90.6 percent of Societe Generale Montenegro for 35.6 million euros. As a result, OTP-owned banks now account for 40 percent of the Montenegrin banking sector. In October 2021, Hungarian tech firm 4iG bought mobile network operator Telenor Montenegro, which boasts roughly 475,000 mobile subscriptions and a leading 37 percent market share. There was already a Hungarian presence in Montenegrin telecommunications through Magyar Telekom’s 2005 purchase of 76.5 percent shares in Montenegrin Telekom. Since Viktor Orbán took power in Hungary in 2010, Hungarian firms – some linked to Orbán’s Fidesz party and benefitting from big state contracts – have invested heavily in Slovenia, Serbia, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia.”

In the case of Montenegro, Hungarian investments could slip into a problem that will decrease Montenegro’s chances of becoming a European Union member. 

Firstly, although it is a member of the European Union, Hungary presents the “opposition” against Brussels. Viktor Orbán has often confirmed his critical political attitude towards the decision made in Brussels. Orbán often calls the European Union “imperialist tantrums” and “pro-immigrant bureaucrats,” threatening with a possibility of “Huxit.” Anti-Brussels rhetoric has been present since Orbán took power and has become increasingly violent and hostile against the EU after each election. Orbán even blocked the agreement of the European Union’s budget in 2020, but his harmful acts are not limited to securing funding. Therefore, taking a loan from a bank owned by a country that opposes the EU, and threatens to leave the European Union, makes Montenegro look like a potential partner to Viktor Orbán and his policy. Even though Hungary is an EU member, it is not a secret that especially western European members of the EU consider Orbán’s Hungary an authoritarian state. Bonding with the country that is “a black sheep” in the family does not give EU members optimism about Montenegro’s membership. 

Secondly, Viktor Orbán and his establishment blocked the help of Ukraine and practically blackmailed the European Union. Even now, when Hungary agreed to help Ukraine financially after prolonged persuasion from other EU countries, Hungary does not seem like a partner that stands on the same side regarding Ukraine. Additionally, as Viktor Orbán is a firm supporter of President Putin, the loan could impact Montenegro’s position towards Russia. Therefore, the loan could become a problem when Hungary requires Montenegro to take a neutral place, especially concerning the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Thus, taking the loan from a Hungarian-owned bank could be a trap that will force Montenegro to support Russia or slow its ambitions to join the European Union.  

Rationally, taking the loan from Hungary could be a short-term solution, but in the long term, Montenegro could find itself in a position that would be difficult to remedy. However, in a country where governments have changed over the past years and where politicians are elected based on their economic achievements, it is understandable that affordable loans are more comfortable for governments and ordinary citizens as well. However, if Montenegro wants to achieve the European Union, it should avoid such steps, as they could severely degrade the country’s political ambitions.

Author: Ivan Iliev


Kajosevic, S. (2021). From Finance to Phones, Hungary Cements Presence in Montenegro, Balkan Inisght, Retrieved from:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *