Montenegro and European Union

October 19th 2010: European Council President Herman Van Rompuy officially visited Montenegro for the first time where he met with Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, President Filip Vujanovic and Parliament President Ranko Krivokapic. He discussed with Montenegrin officials about cooperation, reforms in Montenegro, the forthcoming European Commission opinion on Montenegro, EU membership and other regional matters.

Montenegrin PM informed the Council President on what Montenegro has done since independence to improve lives of citizens, as well as what should be the next steps on the road towards EU and NATO membership.

He stressed out that Montenegro expects a positive opinion of the European Commission early November, which will hopefully be verified at the European Summit in December.

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy told the press that he came to Podgorica “with the message of encouragement and the reinforced message of the European perspective. I encourage your country to continue the reform efforts and the positive role it is playing in the region.”

President of the European Council commended the Prime Minister and the Government on the progress achieved in European integration, state building and the necessary reforms and expressed the European Union’s full support for Montenegro’s EU bid. He also highlighted in particular Montenegro’s record in interethnic dialogue and cooperation and its constructive role in regional cooperation.

President Van Rompuy also noted that Montenegro achieved visa liberalization last December, while Stabilization and Association Agreement entered into force in May and that soon, in three weeks, the European Commission will present its opinion and recommendations on Montenegro’s EU membership application.

He underlined the importance of reform efforts, with particular emphasis on judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organized crime. (EU-Montenegro Press Statement with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.)

Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur on Montenegro Charles Tannock also visited Podgorica a few days ago, on October 15, for talks on Montenegro – EU relations and potential membership.

Montenegrin PM told Mr Tannock that he expects a positive opinion from the European Commission in early November. He explained that by ‘positive opinion’ he means a recommendation for Montenegro to become an EU candidate country and a recommendation, conditional or not, for the opening of EU accession talks in the near future.

Mr Tannock said that the EU should make no demands for an unreasonable delay before opening negotiations with Montenegro, adding that Macedonia’s situation should not be a general model for the enlargement process. He pointed out the importance of judging every aspiring EU member on their own merits, rather than all grouped together. He also said “And in the regatta, which I think will now ensue, Montenegro remains a good news story. Even if that generates a little bit of envy from one or two of your neighbors.”

Montenegrin PM pointed out that he considers wrong the concept of simultaneous accession of Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro to the European Union, and he prefers the ‘regatta model’ in EU enlargement. He told newspaper “Pobjeda” that he believes idea of simultaneous accession is not the right concept. “If you try to force the package, this is like a train, which in the Balkan case adjusts the speed to the slowest car”, said Djukanovic.

Mr Tannok also repeated that “one of the biggest concerns of the European Parliament and all European institutions as well as European public opinion is the rule of law” and that Montenegro should continue its reforms in various sectors that need improvement. “The opening of negotiations is only the beginning. It’s a long process and then there are many chapters to be closed. The European Parliament’s role is to monitor the whole process and to offer constructive criticism. It is also responsible for voting the budgets that will allow you to perform all the things that will be required during the negotiations”, Mr Tannock concluded. (read more about this meeting here)

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