21 June 2019 - President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović, at the invitation of the Romanian ambassador, the EU presiding country, Ferdinand Nagy, was guest at the working lunch with the ambassadors of the EU member states accredited in Montenegro.
President Đukanović thanked Ambassador Nagy for the initiative for the meeting and Romania on the dedicated relationship to bilateral cooperation and the European perspective of the region during a successful presidency. At the same time, he thanked the Head of the EU Delegation and all ambassadors of the EU countries for their unambiguous contribution to the adoption of European standards and value systems in Montenegro on its path of integration. The President emphasized the significance of the timing of this meeting in the context of the yesterday's conclusions of the General Affairs Council, the recent elections for the European Parliament and the published report on the progress of the countries of the WB, as well as the discussion on the EU's strategic movements and its attitude towards the WB.
The President assessed that the Council's conclusions were below what the WB's expectations were, pointing out that a better level of compromise would have been achieved for the stability of the region and Europe and economic and democratic development.
"The balance may be a real expression of how the state sees the EU, but it is not in agreement with what we see from the region," Đukanović said, especially in the context of postponing the decision to open negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania, and added that this region will never be stable without integration and can not experience the required pace of economic and democratic development. Therefore, according to the President, the future competitiveness of European politics is extremely important, to find a balance between the expectations of the Balkans and Europe as a global player.
According to the official statement of the President of Montenegro Cabinet, Đukanović said that in the past few years Montenegro has made evident progress and a clear strategy and continuously growing capacities that guarantee that this strategy will be implemented.
"With the awareness of the inability to overcome all the overnight deficits, the President stressed that Montenegro has managed to preserve the multiethnic harmony and emancipate the country from its dependence to the region, and today, as a NATO member, on a protracted road to the EU proves that it is able to cope with all the challenges. Montenegro will continue to uncompromising advancement of the rule of law and preserve a good pace of economic development," Đukanović said among other things.
The host of a working lunch on behalf of the Romanian presidency said that the country would continue to support the enlargement policy in line with individual progress and share the Commission's assessment of the need for the EU to be a credible partner that respects its promises to candidate countries that have fulfilled their obligations. I am very proud that I witnessed the exceptional progress of Montenegro during my diplomatic mandate, Nagy said.
The head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, spoke about the successful presidency of Romania and the conclusions of the Council, which, he said, was the best compromise and the best possible result.
"What is important is that strong commitment to the expansion has been confirmed," Orav said.
He stressed that further efforts are needed in order to improve the rule of law, fight against corruption and organized crime, freedom of speech and media freedom, and that the EU recognizes positive progress in economic development, and cordially welcomes the active role of Montenegro in the region and in relation to its neighbors and one hundred percent compliance with the common foreign and security policy.
"The Union is ready to help Montenegro, including financially, to become part of the EU as soon as possible," concluded Orav.
The ambassadors expressed interest in the position of the President on the current issues of internal and regional policy. Among other things, Montenegro's contribution to strengthening regional stability and a constructive view of Montenegro on EC assessments and Council conclusions has been recognized.
During the working lunch, the interest in the process of passing a new law on religious freedom was especially expressed.
President Đukanović stressed that Montenegro is determined to solve the very delicate issue of the church, and will not resort to provocation, refraining from further straining the situation, but will uncompromisingly defend its interests. In response to the interest in applying ODIHR recommendations, the President expressed optimism about the further work of the Interim Parliamentary Committee, carefully developing a two-thirds consensus.
"In this regard, we will initiate the renewal of the dialogue with the opposition, which we discussed earlier with the EU delegation, and our offer is fully in place," said Đukanović.
Regarding the protection of freedom of speech, Đukanović emphasized that there is no dilemma in the state political course as far as this is an important issue and the importance of the media for the democratic development of society. The aim is to create the conditions for full freedom and independence of the media and maximum professionalization, which can only be a contribution to the democratization of the society by the legislative and institutional framework.
Read more about politics in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.