08 Oct 14
Montenegro Braces For Toughly Worded EU Report
The new EU report on Montenegro will likely be more citical than previous ones, stressing the need for judicial reforms and guarantees of media freedom, sources in Brussels say.
Separation of the state from party politics, pressures on the media and the judiciary will be the main focus areas for Montenegro in this year’s EU Progress Report, sources in Brussels said.
The report due out on Wednesday will urge a strengthening of the rule of law and fresh measures to spur economic recovery, reports said.
Citing diplomatic sources in Brussels, media reports said the EU will note modest progress in Montenegro’s membership negotiations – but not in some key areas, such as the judiciary and the fight against organized crime and corruption.
Sources suggested that Serbia will win most plaudits in terms of the reports on countries in the region – meaning Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
This could put additional pressure on the government in Podgorica, an opposition official, Dritan Abazovic, claimed.
“Praise can only be expected in those areas where Montenegro traditionally stands out well, namely, regional cooperation, foreign policy, the EU and NATO,” Abazovic told BIRN.
The daily newspaper Vijesti on Tuesday said the Commission would again highlight the issue of the independent media, which it said were becoming “targets of political and economic pressure”.
Vijesti’s executive editor, Nedeljko Rudovic, said sharply worded assessments about media freedom in Montenegro should not come as a surprise.
“With so many unresolved cases of attacks on journalists, Montenegro will not get any applause for media freedom in Brussels.
“The Commission will likely note the real situation, the huge political and economic pressure on the independent media in the past year,” Rudovic told BIRN on Tuesday.
However, the government said this year’s report would provide a “realistic view of the situation on the ground”, and would record progress in specific areas.
“We expect guidelines and requirements for those areas in which we need to work more,” a government official, Snezana Radovic, said on Monday.
Montenegro started its accession negotiations in 2012. Most people are overwhelmingly in favour of EU membership.
The latest poll said 76.2 per cent backed membership of the bloc and only 9.8 per cent were against.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)