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Published on Mar 14, 2015
Montenegro, now having opened 16 of the negotiating chapters and provisionally closed 12, is of course far ahead of any of its peers in the region as a candidate country.
These chapters include the all-important Chapters 23 and 24, key to the accession, as they deal with the Justice and Home Affairs rule of law areas of fighting organised crime, for instance, and fighting corruption and upholding generally the rule of law, including the issue of the judiciary; as well as, of course, Chapter 31 regarding foreign policy. In this context Montenegro, very much to its credit, has aligned its foreign policy position with other EU Member States in applying sectoral economic sanctions against Russia in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine. Similarly, Montenegro is supporting the coalition against ISIS in Syria and Iraq in proposing a law now to criminalise those of its citizens who join foreign terrorist groups.
The Commission’s progress report highlights a number of other areas where Montenegro has also made progress and the joint resolution that I drafted echoes much of this, for instance, the election of Stankovic last year as a state prosecutor is very welcome.
Overall, I am pleased as rapporteur that the resolution reflects a very fair picture of the current state of play for Montenegro; praising its progress where illustrated, and offering advice constructively where improvement is still needed. As one example, for instance, incidents of violence against journalists and media premises has continued this year, but has actually decreased in the terms of total numbers of incidents. So I am pleased that Parliament’s resolution this year has noted this fact. Ensuring a free press is not only of value in its own right in terms of human rights and democracy, but it is also vital in exposing public corruption, an area where we need to see more progress in Montenegro.
Montenegro’s commitment to the EU Accession process is a strong one and it will be important politically to retain widespread domestic cross-party support in its endeavours.
The EU acquis communautaire sets very tough benchmarks for the membership of all future Member States but in my view, for now, Montenegro definitely remains on the right track.