Head of the European Union Delegation to Montenegro, Ambassador Aivo Orav, welcomed the agreement of political actors in Montenegro to hold the next local elections on the same day in all cities.
"There is a principle, and as agreed, that all local elections be held on the same day. That, if confirmed, would be excellent news," Orav said.
Speaking yesterday in Tivat at the opening of the 13th Joint Advisory Board of the European Committee of the Regions and Montenegro, Orav said that Montenegro must improve its reform efforts, especially in the area of media freedom, the fight against corruption and the prevention of human trafficking.
"These reforms require the reflection and involvement of actors from all parts of Montenegro's political scene, as well as representatives of civil society. Parliament's boycott and lack of genuine political dialogue are not sustainable for a country negotiating its accession to the EU." Orav welcomed the establishment of the Comprehensive Electoral Reform Committee, which included representatives of the government and much of the opposition.
"Last week, the Committee adopted all the rules and criteria regarding its functioning, and this was a crucial moment in the removal and the last operational obstacles to starting concrete work on electoral reform. I sincerely hope that the Committee will now be able to focus on the substance of its work and deliver tangible results in the ambitious agenda for reforming the institutional and legislative framework for elections," Orav said.
The head of the EU delegation reiterated that Montenegro had made "some progress" in the accession negotiations. The priority now was to "deliver a much more tangible result to the rule of law system, "that will convince the EU that Montenegro is indeed ready to deal with this crucial issue in a European way."
"Progress in the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights in Montenegro is crucial, and it determines the speed of your entire EU negotiation process," Orav stressed.
Part of the political public in Montenegro, otherwise, believes that the EU, dissatisfied with the substantive simulation of reforms and especially the poor and selective functioning of the Montenegrin rule of law, has "raised the manual" in the accession negotiations with Podgorica, which have been ongoing for eight years. So far, our country has managed to open 32 and temporarily close only three of the 33 negotiating chapters with Brussels. Still, for more than a year, it has failed to open the last ones - Chapter 8 (Competition), negotiated for years.
"Montenegro has fulfilled all the prerequisites for opening the only remaining one - Chapter 8. I hope the Member States will make an affirmative decision, so the Montenegrin negotiating structure can devote itself to fulfilling the obligations leading to the temporary closure of the other chapters." Montenegro's chief negotiator with the European Union, Aleksandar Drljevic, said in Tivat today.
He reaffirmed "Montenegro's continued commitment to European values and membership of the European community of peoples as the most important foreign policy goal."
"The results are in support of this since our country has achieved the highest number of candidates, and that we are at the forefront of enlargement, which carries with it a special responsibility," the head of the Montenegrin negotiating team said.
Text by Sinisa Lukovic