Thursday, June 10, 2010

Djukanovic Meets with EU Officials in Brussels

BRUSSELS, JUNE 10, 2010 -- European Union officials have praised Montenegro’s progress on its path to the EU, but insisted on the importance of increased reforms in the rule-of-law and the fight against organised crime and corruption.

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, stressed that Montenegro has to make more progress in key areas, especially in the rule of law.

“One area we can now identify and where attention is needed is strengthening of rule of law, including establishing a clear track record on the fight against corruption and organised crime and pursuit of judicial reform,” Barroso said.

Barroso made his remarks after meeting with Montenengrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who is in Brussels this week for discussions with top EU officials. On Wednesday he met with Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, and today he is scheduled to meet with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, and European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele.

Van Rompuy praised the role of Montenegro in regional cooperation and inter-ethnic dialogue, but echoed Barroso in calling for strengthening of the rule of law.

“Sustainable progress in the fields related to the rule of law, such as judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime remain of outmost importance for us,” Van Rompuy explained. “There are no shortcuts and the remaining challenges must not be underestimated,” he added.

At a press conference following the meetings yesterday, Djukanovic emphasized his government's goals, namely to receive a positive opinion from the European Commission on its membership application and a recommendation for the start of accession talks.

“We believe that all conditions will be met for Montenegro to get candidacy status by the end of this year, along with the date for the start of accession talks,” Djukanovic said.

“These are our expectations and we believe that they are not unrealistic, but of course the final decision lies in the European Commission and European Council”, he added.

Montenegro submitted its application for EU membership in December 2008, and the European Commission is in the process of preparing its opinion on the country's application. A positive opinion on Montenegro's readiness to join the EU will pave the way for the launching of membership talks between Brussels and Podgorica.

Djukanovic’s visit to Brussels is his first since the country's Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union entered into force on May 1 this year. Montenegro will now take part in the so-called Stabilization and Association Council. The first meeting in this format will be held at the ministerial level next week in Luxembourg.

Source -- BIRN

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