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Prime Minister Milo Đukanović: “It is my great honour and pleasure to greet you on behalf of the Government of Montenegro. The opportunity to address you today is a confirmation of the European Parliament’s commitment to the enlargement process and an opportunity to objectively consider the current results of Montenegro in the process of accession negotiations, as well as the challenges that await us in the coming stages of the process…
Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro,
Speech at the meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)
Strasbourg, 15. September 2016
Dear Mr Brok,
Distinguished delegates, members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great honour and pleasure to greet you on behalf of the Government of Montenegro. The opportunity to address you today is a confirmation of the European Parliament’s commitment to the enlargement process and an opportunity to objectively consider the current results of Montenegro in the process of accession negotiations, as well as the challenges that await us in the coming stages of the process. This meeting with prominent members of the European Parliament, in the year when we celebrate the first decade of independence, represents the recognition of the correctness of the strategic course of our state policy. Furthermore, I believe that the timing of the dialogue is adequate having regard to the preparation of the report on Montenegro for 2016, which will be published after our parliamentary elections in October. We expect that the results of this year’s elections will affirm a policy of dialogue and understanding, which the Government has been promoting through the agreement with the majority of the the opposition on free and fair elections. Similarly, it will mean a further contribution to strengthening political stability in the country and mark the beginning of a new phase of political life that will be characterised by a consistent parliamentary majority and the government focused on further reforms and economic and democratic development.
In the light of the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee for Stabilisation and Association, which will be held by the end of the year, and the preparation of the resolution on Montenegro, we believe that they will testify to the positive results of the agreement which established the Government of electoral trust, as well as significant efforts to achieve transparency and legitimacy of the electoral process. You are probably aware that I have urged the opposition to join the government in order to achieve that goal and offered them to lead the key departments that were considered to be places of possible misuse of state resources for electoral purposes, namely the ministries of finance, Interior affairs, agriculture and rural development, and labour and social welfare. Since May, those ministries have been led by representatives of the opposition, and, in addition, they have accepted the proposal to take one deputy prime minister’s position in the Cabinet. Opposion also have their own representatives in the state administration and local governments, as well as in state-owned enterprises. Therefore, the idea was to resolve all the issues through dialogue in the institutions of the system, primarily to overcome the distrust of the opposition manifested by the results of the elections and the harsh confrontation between the authorities and the opposition, which in the same form and intensity have been present since the referendum on restoring independence.
I want to assure you that the European Parliament’s recommendations will setve as objective and significant guidance for our country in the coming phases of the integration process. We are very grateful for your commitment, interest and support of your institution, as well as recognition of the quality and consistency of our commitment to the European path.
In this era of new and complex challenges the European Union faces today, showing the determination and ability to overcome them, it is confirmed that the ideal of uniting in diversity, as a permanent quality of the European idea, does not lose its importance and relevance. This goal of unification with Europe is one of the strong drivers for the implementation of reforms and adoption of European standards for us in Montenegro. We are committed to European values and strive consistently to affirm membership in the European Union as a key foreign policy priority. This is best seen through the continuing high percentage of our public support for that goal.
I am deeply convinced that the enlargement policy is a key factor of political stability, security, economic and democratic development of the Western Balkans. Priorities for further progress of Montenegro and its neighbours, which are reflected in promoting the rule of law and boosting economic growth through strengthening infrastructure, creating a favourable environment for foreign investment, growth and competitiveness of businesses and creating new and better jobs, are the main motivation and encouragement for all of us to work intensively towards fulfilling the accession agenda in order to do the job of demanding and comprehensive socio-economic transformation and meet the conditions for joining the EU. For Montenegro, significant incentive in this direction is the perspective membership in NATO, which, we believe, have a strong positive reflection on the entire region.
We appreciate that the current accession results guarantee the success of the next phase of the negotiating process. Opening of 24 negotiating chapters, intense change and implementation of new legislative and institutional framework for combating corruption and organised crime, and encouraging further infrastructure development, supported by the Berlin Process, testify to the intensive efforts towards making lasting and sustainable socio-economic changes. This will guarantee the quality access framework and give legitimacy to further stages of the process in order to await the EU membership fully prepared.
We are willing to open new chapters by the end of the year, given the percentage of the initial fulfillment of the criteria, and submit negotiating positions for 29 chapters. Intensifying work on joint positions is of primary importance for our further expectations of the negotiation process. In that regard, we are hopeful that with the help of the Slovak Presidency of the EU, the European Commission and all the EU member-states, we will open more chapters by the end of the year.
We also expect support of the European partners to start closing the first chapters in the negotiations – as a symbolic pledge of the prospects of the negotiation process and its final outcome. Evaluation of efforts made so far in negotiations is of utmost importance in the current political atmosphere, as well as recognition of consistent and strategic action according to the partner guidelines of European interlocutors. It is also good in that manner to send encouraging message to all countries in the region that committed attitude in the implementation of reforms and the adoption of the European system of values is recognised and respected in the European Union. That the EU’s door is open, and that progress on this path is possible.
We pay special attention to the negotiations in the rule of law, as the basis of a modern democratic state and future EU member. Therefore, the focus is on the negotiations on Chapters 23 and 24 in accordance with the new approach, as well as the fulfillment of the 83 interim benchmarks. Actual progress was also noted in Report of the European Commission from April, which estimates that Montenegro is on the right track to meet the benchmarks, with clear recommendations for further action, on which we are fully focused. Continued success is also shown through semi-annual reports of the Government on implementation of the Action Plans for Chapters 23 and 24 with about 80 percent of the implemented measures.
Particular progress has been made in the legislative filed, adopting more than 60 reform laws from September 2013 to July 2016, after which key institutions were formed, such as the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Special State Prosecutor’s Office, whose work already shows achieved results, that we will certainly continue to improve. Efficiency and dedication is shown through the number of investigations, indictments and convictions in organised crime and corruption, as well as in exploited institute of plea agreements, which seized property valued at 23 million EUR. The Government is determined to do everything in order to approach to meeting all 83 interim benchmarks in Chapters 23 and 24 by the end of the year. For us, improving the rule of law is crucial, and primarily an important factor of citizens’ safety and investors’ confidence, and our energy will continue to be concentrated on that.
In future efforts regarding integration, as yet, the focus remains on quality of the reforms, not the speed of the process. In the relatively complex political atmosphere that currently exists in Montenegro, and even more in the region, long-term stability and legitimacy of political and economic developments in the Western Balkans are important for European security and prospects. Especially when we take into account a number of challenges in Europe. Dealing with terrorist threats, migration and the recent referendum on Brexit are encouraging right-wing forces and inspiring division and uncertainty in the European region. Therefore, the security of our region in the current European context is a priority, and it requires special attention and vision of European partners. Montenegro understands and takes seriously its responsibility in this regard.
But we also want to point out the necessity of the continuity of European support for the Western Balkans and specific guidelines in the coming stages of the accession process. Europeanisation of the Western Balkans has a far greater political significance for the EU than it is at this stage of cumberment with other problems in Brussels assumed. The stabilisation of the region and adoption of European standards and policies by our countries, are the basis not only for the development of democracy in our country, but also for the security and stability of Europe. Therefore, the Berlin process that opened a new hope for the Western Balkans, and that we experienced as enriched access of the European Union toward enlargement policy in our region, needs to be further promoted and built. It is important to encourage the development of joint infrastructure projects and internal integration of the region, and also provide quality links to go to the European corridors. This will mean a strong impetus to the economic and overall development of our societies and to create a real foundation for the strengthening of institutions and the rule of law.
In the economic sphere, the goal of our policy remains intense and sustainable economic growth with job creation. I remind that the average growth rate in Montenegro in the ten years since the restoration of independence amounted to 3.2%. The Government’s programme of economic reforms from 2016 to 2018 focused economic policy on increasing the competitiveness of the Montenegrin economy, through the implementation of structural reforms and the development of necessary infrastructure, with the aim to further attract domestic and foreign direct investments, with special attention to key development potentials, defined policies, but also the recommendations of the European Commission. Large investment projects in road infrastructure, tourism and energy sectors, which are large and in the European range, are the guarantee of long-term economic stability and development. Consolidation of public revenue, rational public spending and competitiveness of fiscal policy remain important priorities for future government policy. I believe that we certainly step toward more reliable financial and prosperous economic environment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Montenegro will continue to responsibly promote European interests in the Western Balkans, committing itself to secure the European context in which interests of our country will be valued and its perseverance and commitment to the European course will result in consistent social framework and the confidence of citizens in the European project and social progress that it brings. The European Parliament, through the work of rapporteur Mr Charles Tannock, as well as the activities of the Parliamentary Committee for Stabilisation and Association and presiding Anneliese Dodds, remains an important interlocutor of Montenegro which with its resolutions and recommendations continues to be a beacon for our further efforts on European path. A transparent political process and economic progress of Montenegro and the Western Balkan countries are possible only with the support of the European Parliament and other European institutions in our continuing dialogue toward full membership in the EU. The efforts, activities and results of Montenegro can be a guideline for quality and long-term provision of regional peace, prosperity and stability as the guarantor of the European future and cooperation.
Thank you for your attention.
Source: Government of Montenegro