EU Urges Montenegro to Fulfil Interim Benchmarks Under Chapters 23 and 24

By , 30 Jun 2019, 15:04 PM Politics
EU Urges Montenegro to Fulfil Interim Benchmarks Under Chapters 23 and 24 Copyrights: Council of the European Union

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30 June 2019 - At a recent joint press statement following the tenth meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council between the EU and Montenegro, it was highlighted that The SA Council encouraged Montenegro to make further efforts to improve key areas like the rule of law, economic governance and public administration, and welcomed the country’s positive track record in implementing its obligations under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

The EU-Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Council (SA Council) held its tenth meeting on 27 June 2019. The meeting was chaired by Ambassador/State Secretary Zoran Janković of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro. H.E. Luminița Odobescu, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Romania to the European Union, led the EU delegation on behalf of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. Ms Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans represented the European Commission.

The SA Council meeting provided a timely opportunity to review Montenegro's progress in its preparations for accession and to consider priorities for further work within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

In the context of the accession negotiations, the SA Council welcomed the opening of two additional chapters since the last meeting. The SA Council encouraged Montenegro to continue its work on meeting all benchmarks and to continue focusing on the fundamentals of the accession process: rule of law, economic governance and public administration reform. It encouraged Montenegro to continue the genuine inclusion of civil society and other stakeholders in preparations for EU accession and the policy-making process in general.

Concerning the Copenhagen political criteria, the SA Council noted the prolonged boycott of Parliament by parts of the opposition and encouraged all political actors to fully return the political debate to the democratic institutions, notably to Parliament, where it belongs. The SA Council recalled the importance of a comprehensive reform of the electoral framework, and of addressing the findings and recommendations of electoral observation missions. It also underlined the need to continue to provide a credible, independent and effective institutional response to allegations of corruption and illegal political party financing.

The SA Council noted the results already achieved by Montenegro on reforming its legal and institutional framework and establishing an initial track record in most areas under chapters 23 and 24. It stressed that Montenegro’s overall priority in the accession negotiations and the next important step ahead, was the fulfilment of the interim benchmarks set under chapters 23 and 24. It, therefore, encouraged Montenegro to continue intensifying its efforts, in particular by addressing the remaining shortcomings in certain key areas, such as media freedom, the fight against corruption and trafficking in human beings. It stressed that concrete results in the area of the rule of law were now crucial.

The SA Council strongly commended Montenegro for its consistent cooperation with the EU on foreign policy issues, in particular, its continuous full alignment with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. The Council also welcomed that Ulcinj Salina has been proclaimed a nature park and encouraged further efforts of Montenegro to protect the Salina and to improve the management of all protected areas and other potential Natura 2000 sites. It also held an exchange of views on developments in Montenegro and the Western Balkans.

Read more about Politics in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.

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