While all eyes were focused on elections in the US, few noticed that a new government was to be sworn in in Montenegro. Shepherds and villagers of the Sinjajevina-Durmitor mountain range, the biggest mountain grassland in the Balkans and second biggest in Europe, looked with hope to the new government as they are fighting to preserve their traditional lands and ways of life. A military training ground supported and fueled by NATO has been operating since 2019 on their lands, which for millennia have served as pasture to local communities living in the area.
The military ground is being built on 7,500 hectares in the heart of the UNESCO-recognized Tara River Biosphere Reserve. The area is also of cultural interest since it hosts numerous churches, monasteries and memorials. Two UNESCO World Heritage sites lie within the biosphere reserve, the Durmitor National Park, one of the oldest of the Balkans, and the carved limestone tombstones in graveyards dating back to the 12-16th centuries. Within the biosphere reserve live over 30,000 people, mostly engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding and grazing, to which Sinjajevina is vital.