Montenegro has continued to reaffirm its European commitment by implementing reforms, regardless of the current developments within the European Union, , the chief negotiator Mr Aleksandar Drljevic said at the ninth meeting of the EU-Montenegro Stabilization and Association Committee.
In addition to Mr Drljevic, the meeting in Podgorica was also opened by the head of the Montenegro unit within the General Directorate for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Mr Thomas Hagleitner. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss fulfilment of political and economic criteria for accession, progress made within negotiation chapters, as well as the implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA).
At the beginning of the meeting, Mr Drljevic referred to the new European Commission, and emphasized that Montenegro was encouraged particularly by the message of the new EC president that the door of EU remained open, that we shared the same continent, history, culture, and even destiny. „In line with this view, we believe that all the reform processes that are currently taking place in the EU can and should be implemented simultaneously with those reform processes of different nature that are characteristic for the Western Balkan countries,“ he added.
As he said, we paid particular attention to the EU Council news on adoption of the report for the fulfillment of the opening benchmarks for Chapter 8 – Competition, and added that we would be expecting a letter to submit the negotiating position which the Government adopted already in March this year.
The Chief Negotiator stated that all of the Sub-Committee meetings held this year noted progress under negotiation chapters, and he stressed in particular the importance of the progress made in the rule of law area, not just for further negotiations but for the overall progress of the Montenegrin state.
“It is evident that Montenegro continued to sustain its pro-European course and we are working hard to achieve the standards required for membership. Therefore, regardless of the current developments on the European continent, our commitment to European integration is further demonstrated through our commitment to implementing reforms and through the recognised success in the negotiation process, as well as the open and good cooperation with the EC, Member States and countries of the region“, Mr. Drljevic stated.
Mr. Hagleitner refers to the speech of the new Commission President underlining that EU doors are open and stated that Montenegro remained the most advanced country in the negotiation process, recalling that the work to align with the acquis was underway in a number of areas - leading to concrete results such as the Labour Law, Smart specialization Strategy and Protection of Ulcinj Salina. He pointed out that reforms in the area of rule of law and fundamental rights – the key values of the EU – constituted the essential elements of the accession process; therefore, progress in this area represented a key aspect in setting the overall pace of the negotiations.
’’Montenegro now has to continue with the reform efforts and results, notably in the fields of media freedoms, fighting corruption and organised crime, trafficking in human beings, to fulfill the interim benchmarks under Chapters 23 and 24“, Mr. Hagleitner stated.