The European Union expects progress from Montenegro in Chapters 23 and 24 related to the area of freedom of the media and the fight against organised crime and corruption. This was stated by the EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, at the Conference "The Seventh Anniversary of Montenegrin Negotiations with the EU," which was organised by the Centre for Civic Education (CGO) with the support of the Ministry of Public Administration, the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and the Office for European Integration of the Government.
Ambassador Orav explained that, if no progress is made in these areas, the negotiations may be slowed down or even terminated.
"Stopping the negotiations implies that there is a great deal of reversal in Chapters 23 and 24," explained Orav at the Conference attended by representatives of the authorities, the opposition, Embassies, and the civilian sector.
Due to various interpretations of the European Commission (EC) Progress Report, Orav emphasised that this document is very clear and that for each Chapter there are highlighted issues that should be addressed.
"The report represents one kind of action plan for the government and other actors - opposition, civil society, business community, and everyone else," said Orav.
The Montenegrin Prime Minister, Dusko Markovic, recalled that Montenegro has opened 32 of the 33 Chapters during the seven years of negotiations, and has already been supported by 22 EU member States to open the last Chapter related to competition. The Prime Minister announced that the government will continue to work on fulfilling the remaining obligations, focusing on the areas highlighted by the EC in this year's report.
"In terms of consideration of the last report, we in the government have decided to innovate and refine the negotiating model in order to strengthen our activities, concretise the obligations, as well as the responsibility for the quality of the negotiation process," pointed out Markovic.
The CGO Executive Director Daliborka Uljarevic agreed that there is a need to make a turnaround in the negotiation process, and she thinks that the last EC Report gave a seriously shaken image of Montenegrin credibility in the negotiation process.
"There is limited progress in 28 Chapters, and the number of Chapters we have made good progress in have declined during the year. The average score for 33 Chapters is minimal (around3.09). In short, Montenegro is far from being superior in this process. For this, the greatest responsibility lies on the executive power as a negotiator, which has based this process on the interest of parties and a few othe individuals," said Uljarevic.
The EU Ambassador once again referred to the importance of the reform in the electoral Law for the future path of Montenegro towards the European Union. He stated that it was a pity that "those who sought this process and who presented this plan a year ago no longer want to implement it." Orav pointed out that the trust in the electoral system is still missing in Montenegro, and recalled that elections will be held in October of next year.
"Something is needed to regain that trust. A temporary electoral reform committee has been established, and this is the best place for a political dialogue," Orav said.
Montenegro's Chief Negotiator with the EU, Aleksandar Drljevic, said that from the very start of the negotiations, Montenegro has faced the question of whether more could have been done and whether more effective decisions should have been made, and whether the EU accession dynamics were satisfactory.
"This is a demanding process for the entire transformation of society which certaintlytakes time. We can be satisfied with what has been done until now, since the results we have achieved motivate us to move forward," concluded Drljevic.
Montenegro officially started negotiations with the European Union on 29 June 2012, by opening the Chapters related to the rule of law and fundamental human rights.