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PM Marković, European Commissioner for Enlargement Várhelyi: Cohesion of all segments of society is condition for successful continuation of EU integration

PM Marković, European Commissioner for Enlargement Várhelyi: Cohesion of all segments of society is condition for successful continuation of EU integration
Published date: 07.02.2020 14:39 | Author: PR Service

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Podgorica, Montenegro (7 February 2020) --  In the continuation of the European integration, our country needs cohesion and cooperation of all segments of society, to make the process successful, Prime Minister Duško Marković and EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi jointly concluded earlier today, following the meeting in Podgorica.

"I informed the Commissioner about the Government initiative, sent to political and social actors for dialogue on electoral conditions and all issues significant to our European agenda. The common interest of the integration into the European Union goes beyond other interests and ambitions in this regard, it is significant that everyone sees the upcoming elections as a fair game. In the next, final and most demanding phase of integration, it is necessary that we show political maturity and capacity on the European issues. The results of a recent opinion poll, which showed that Montenegrin citizens overwhelmingly believe in the European Union and benefits that membership brings to them, give an additional incentive and accountability to the Government and all political actors on that path,” Prime Minister Marković stated at a joint press conference.

Bringing an important message to our country, the European Commissioner stated that Montenegro cannot be successful, unless we all work towards that direction.

"So the opposition must work on achieving success in Montenegro. I would also like to ask the opposition for cooperation and that together with the ruling parties now in power, the situation may be different after the elections, you just never know it, governments come and go, but the country always tackles the same challenges - the reforms that are necessary to become an EU member. So, I am addressing the opposition with the aim that they also participate in the elections, to establish a national minimum, to make sure that regardless of who is in the majority, reforms will always be implemented," Commissioner Várhelyi stated.


New approach to the EC - consideration in Montenegro follows


Talking about the new methodology of the European Commission, Prime Minister Marković stated that the European Commissioner informed him about the basics of this approach and our country would carefully consider these aspects.

"Montenegro, as you know, has opened all, except one of the chapters, it has been noted that, as we expected, the new methodology does not apply to us. However, recognising the importance we attach to all efforts, aimed at maintaining the credibility of the European perspective, as a responsible partner of the European Union, we will carefully consider the new moments and this approach is bringing and see how this approach of the European Commission can be a new value for our negotiation process. This is also compatible with our commitment, which highlights the quality of reforms at the forefront. With the support to the ambitions of the European Commission and the Member States to reform the negotiation process so that candidate countries reach the ultimate goal of EU membership, as quality and as quickly as possible, I am convinced that the process itself should be not only bureaucratic and administrative, but also substantive and political. We believe that these reflections have also helped to look at the process towards this direction, so citizens can better benefit from the reforms," Prime Minister Duško Marković stated.

Commissioner Várhelyi recalled his point of view that during his term in office, at least one country would end the accession process.

"As Montenegro is the leading country in this process, I promised the European Parliament that at least one country will be ready to join the European Union by the end of my term, but this will not be possible unless you help me to achieve it," the EU Enlargement Commissioner noted at a press conference.


Common position - to accelerate reforms


Prime Minister Duško Marković and Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi agreed on the need to further accelerate reforms and shared a position on priorities in the process.

"Regarding future plans and priorities, I have informed the Commissioner about our expectation that, after all these circumstances, which I have aforementioned, we did not open any of the chapters last year, this year we will open the last chapter 8 - Competition with all the issues that follow the opening of this chapter. I am pleased to note, there is a joint readiness and an agreement to resolve this issue in the further dialogue, in the best interests of the whole negotiation process. At the same time, I emphasized our readiness to continue working on creating the conditions to temporarily close another set of chapters, for which we have already achieved internal readiness. Although, of course, the European Union was preoccupied with other issues, I conveyed to the Commissioner, that Montenegro was not sitting cross-legged, but continued to carry out reforms, bearing in mind that there was no alternative for us, but to integrate into the European Union. The rule of law, strengthening of the results in Chapters 23 and 24 and the improvement of the overall environment for freedom of the media and expression, was in particular focus. Therefore, we believe that we can reach the final benchmarks in these most demanding chapters, this year," the Prime Minister stated.

The Commissioner said he had colluded with the Prime Minister on the need to accelerate reforms "especially in the area of the rule of law, media freedoms, where we still have outstanding issues that need to be resolved."

"The Zagreb Summit will be an incentive to the enlargement and I hope it will represent a new element that will help to the acceleration of your activities. When I look at the situation in Montenegro, I see that the European Union has already given considerable support to this country, but much more remains to be done, reforms will have to continue, to accelerate in the new composition of the Parliament," the Commissioner noted.


Law on Freedom of Religion - a matter of national law


Speaking about the Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Legal Status of Religious Communities, the Prime Minister said that the Law was adopted in line with our sovereign right, to regulate this area in accordance with the best international standards and practices and the recommendations of the Venice Commission.

"I informed the Commissioner about the Government's initiative and my letter to the Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral to jointly look at the best solutions for the implementation of the Law and the signing of a basic agreement, which is always a desirable model for achieving the goals, in state relations with the church. In this manner, we are once again demonstrating the democratic capacity to resolve all issues and dilemmas, through a dialogue and discussion, thereby strengthening relations of mutual trust and respect," the Prime Minister pointed out.

This is a problem area, which the European Union does not deal with, but national legislation, the Commissioner stressed.

"We also briefly addressed the issue of the Law on Freedom of Religion. It's not up to the Commission to talk about it, it's up to every country to design their own system in that part. But the only advice I will give you, and today I will meet with the Metropolitan, is that the world is watching you, this is an important issue for all and we are interested in dialogue. I would encourage everyone to dialogue and find a solution, which will be acceptable for everyone. Therefore, if we can help you towards that direction, I don't think we can, but if we can, we are here and it would really be a priority to find a solution to this issue," the Commissioner noted.

Our country is tackling with the negative political and disinformation campaign, Prime Minister pointed to.

"In the conversation, I also emphasized that Montenegro is a safe and stable environment for all its citizens, which in a democratic way, as a leader in the integration process, is currently facing a negative political campaign, followed by an aggressive disinformation campaign. I highlighted that a lot of fake news, politically incorrect messages that we are exposed to and interference from the outside, will in no sense undermine us to perform state functions peacefully and in line with the law," Prime Minister Duško Marković stated.


Montenegro is first non-EU country to adopt S3


The Prime Minister recalled that Montenegro is the first non-EU country to adopt the Smart Specialisation Strategy, which aims to increase the competitiveness of our country and create opportunities for new businesses and jobs.

"Distinguished Commissioner, we have initiated an initiative of a regional development project, the so-called SEEIIST - the International Institute for Sustainable Technologies, initiated by Montenegro, aimed at establishment of a common research infrastructure for the region of Southeast Europe. We have requested the support and understanding of the European Commission for these important projects and I would like to ask you to take this initiative of ours, in the special attention," Prime Minister Duško Marković stated.


PUBLIC RELATIONS SERVICE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF MONTENEGRO