Montenegro’s pivot

A couple of years ago, Bloomberg published an extraordinary article about the Montenegrin infiltration of the Mediterranean Shipping Co., effectively converting it into a cocaine logistics business. Following on from that is Alexander Clapp’s fascinating account of how Montenegro came to occupy a crucial role in the global drugs trade:

“…seafarers from places like Kotor – which straddled the Venetian and Ottoman empires – occupied a crucial position in 16th-century Europe. The clans in and around Kotor functioned like ‘linguistic and cultural amphibians’, serving as missionaries, spies, merchants and pirates. The Adriatic clans were often exploited by the empires that encroached on their mountains and occupied their ports – enlisted into naval crews, or forced to convert – but in many ways they benefited from their borderland identity. They played off great powers against one another, leveraged strategic information for court influence, infiltrated imperial ranks and forged valuable mercantile connections.”