Joseph Portelli has confirmed he is considering buying an island in Montenegro and said he has “great plans” for it, but he has not bought it yet because he is weighing all his options.

Portelli told Times of Malta that over the past couple of weeks he visited St Mark’s island, where the Montenegrin government has issued a planning policy for development, to “explore the possibilities”. The island reportedly costs around €90 million and is currently owned by another private company.

“Yes, we did go to see the island and I am interested in it because it is beautiful beyond imagination.

“The government there has already drafted plans for it, and I believe our vision would make it even more beautiful,” Portelli said, without giving further details.

“But contarary to what some reports have claimed, I have not bought it. This is a huge decision which we cannot take lightly, but if we do acquire it, it will be trusted in the hands of some of the world’s best designers and architects.”

The island, also known as Stradioti, is the largest island in the region and is considered to be one of the most beautiful and attractive locations in the Adriatic sea.

The government there has already drafted plans for it, and I believe our vision would make it even more beautiful

It stretches over almost 340,000 square metres, neighbours a few other picturesque islands and is close to one of the most commercially active ports of the country – the Regent Port of Montenegro.

'They rolled out the red carpet for us'

Portelli said his company was welcomed with the utmost eagerness and zeal in Montenegro.

“They rolled out the red carpet for us. They are very keen and enthusiastic about our vision,” he said.

The story first surfaced last week, when Montenegrin news website Vijesti reported that Portelli’s Maltese company had purchased the island before the government could buy it.

It said neither Portelli’s company, nor a top official from the Montenegrin government would reliably confirm that the deal was sealed.

On Saturday, Newsbook then reported that Portelli did not deny buying the island.

The island is mostly covered in greenery and contains a number of archaeological sites from the middle ages.

In the 1960s, a tourist settlement was built on it, but the island’s tourist attractiveness eventually dwindled, and it has been “out of tourist maps for almost 30 years”, according to the Montenegrin website.

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