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EC President Juncker visits Podgorica: Montenegro can set example to others, it progresses faster thanks to serious reforms implemented

EC President Juncker visits Podgorica: Montenegro can set example to others, it progresses faster thanks to serious reforms implemented
Published date: 27.02.2018 19:04 | Author: PR Service

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Podgorica, Montenegro (27 February 2018) -- Prime Minister Duško Marković and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker agreed in Podgorica earlier today that the most important messages from the Strategy on Credible Perspective of Enlargement to the Western Balkans is that the region will be a part of Europe, and that the time frame is realistic because Montenegro can progress in line with its planned dynamics based on achievements.

President Juncker said that Montenegro did a lot in terms of European integration, that it is progressing faster than other countries in the region thanks to the serious reforms it has implemented and that the recently published EC Strategy for the Western Balkans should be taken as an encouragement to continue with the reforms.

"What I am saying during this tour in the Balkans is that the level of this Strategy depends on each countries' achievements, but it seems to me that Montenegro has really done a lot and that the Strategy shows that we have a really strong will to provide the entire Balkans with the European perspective," said President Juncker at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Marković following their today's meeting in Podgorica.

He added that Montenegro is progressing faster than other countries in the region thanks to the serious reforms it has implemented, but that reforms need to be continued in order to become a full member of the EU.

Prime Minister Duško Marković noted that it is important that the EU enlargement policy is alive, and most importantly - that we work on the readiness of those who want to join Europe, and on the readiness of the Union itself to accept new members.

"The door is open, and this is a message that is clear and we thank the President and the European Commission for their leadership in that regard. For the first time we are talking about the time frame and enlargement plan, which we in Montenegro find the time frame realistic, because we can advance in line with the dynamics we have planned, knowing that our progress will be merit-based," said Prime Minister Marković.

Montenegro's priorities - EU and economic growth

The Prime Minister emphasised that the European agenda and the stabilisation and growth of the economy are the priorities to which the Government will be fully committed, adding that he is hopeful that in the first half of this year Montenegro will open two chapters, and that in 2018 it can fulfil the provisional benchmarks and obtain benchmarks for closing chapters 23 and 24. He stressed that the Government is absolutely committed to the values and goals of the Union and that there are no doubts about it, pointing out that there is also no doubt that the future of the entire region is within the EU:

"We will be supporting our neighbours by establishing good relations and active dialogue even when there are open issues. It is a civilisation trait in the tradition of Montenegro that best reflects that we are part of Europe and that formal accession to the EU will confirm the place we naturally belong to," the Prime Minister of Montenegro underscored.

Speaking about the date of Montenegro's accession to the European Union, the European Commission's President said that he did not come here to make empty promises and that the date of membership depends on the efforts of Montenegro and the fulfilment of all the necessary criteria.

"The date we have mentioned is not the date for making promises, that is just a perspective we need to move towards. Reforms are to be implemented, some reforms may not have been intensively applied as they should be, but the Prime Minister convinced me with his optimism. I also note that Montenegro has made a lot of progress and that together we can we will do great things," President Juncker concluded.

Journalist's question: EU dynamics and Minister's resignation

When asked by a journalist to assess the state of European integration or pro-European policy in the region at the end of his tour, the European Commission's President said that the European Commision is of the opinion that the natural place of the Balkan countries is within the EU.

"However, this will depend on the efforts of each candidate country. I would like to say that we have requests. For instance, the request relating to territorial disputes that exist between the Balkan countries need to be resolved before their joining the EU. In that regard, Montenegro can set an example to other Western Balkan countries," said the President of the European Commission.

Answering the question about the impact of the Minister of European Affairs' resignation due to a conflict of interest on the process of European integration, the President of the European Commission said that this act has no impact on Montenegro's path towards EU membership.

"I can conclude that a conflict of interest has been established. I think it is better to react when the conflict of interest is established, because some would have done absolutely nothing in the same situation," President Junker stated.

Prime Minister Duško Marković said, answering the same question, that even in this case, Montenegro is showing its ability to apply laws and respect its institutions' decisions.

"It is important that this conflict of interest is not the result of intent, but the interpretation of the law. We have come to this knowledge thanks to the activities of the non-governmental sector. I want to strengthen such an approach and encourage the non-governmental sector to help us create public policies in order to build our capacities to apply laws. The Government respects the Anti-Corruption Agency's decision and the next move is to resolve this issue in an appropriate manner. The Government has no responsibilty when it comes to this matter. The Government is only showing that it is capable of applying laws and respecting its institutions," Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković concluded at a joint press conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Podgorica earlier today.