Montenegro: Government’s missing year for reforms, Picula said

Montenegro has a place in the European Union despite critical assessments from the Progress Report, European Parliament Rapporteur for Montenegro Tonino Picula told Podgorica Pobjeda, noting that the government has failed to maintain the dynamics of the accession process until more now in the past year.

Following the publication of the Progress Report on Montenegro, Picula said he was concerned about the slowdown in integration. He added that he sincerely believes, despite reasonable critical assessments in the Report, that Montenegro has a place in the EU as a leader in the accession process.

“The current government in the country has the greatest responsibility for the registered state of affairs, as everywhere else. However, better rules of conduct must also apply to the EU, so it must keep its promises. This applies not only to Montenegro, but also to Albania, Northern Macedonia and Kosovo. It should be noted that the report presented addressed the situation during 2019 and 2020. It identified certain progress, such as the fight against organized crime, as well as the slowing down or stagnation of some processes, such as strengthening the rule of law or the weak state of freedom of the media, “Picula explained.

He noted that there are a number of countries advocating for Montenegro’s EU membership, but Podgorica’s main responsibility is to speed up or improve the marked processes.

“A good example of this could be the harmonization of the process of holding local elections on the same day because the current system keeps the country in a kind of permanent election campaign, which constantly produces political tensions in the already highly polarized scene. “The extent to which this has a deterrent effect on the capacity to implement reforms does not need to be explained,” Picula said.

Picula previously estimated that it seems to him that politics in Montenegro is clericalized and the church is politicized. Asked if he thinks this is still the case and if so, what needs to be done to strengthen civil society, the EP rapporteur says he would not like European politics and media to be interested in the situation in Montenegro from one incident to another.

“However, for now, I do not see that a dialogue of key actors has been established, which would really open space for the reduction of emergencies with serious consequences for the state of civil society. This is probably not easy to do in the context of Montenegro’s current exposure to external pressures. It is likely that only after a few election cycles will the options be flexible enough to consolidate civil society standards. At the same time, we should expect more comprehensive support from Brussels, because due to the current experience with Poland and Hungary, the bloc will certainly no longer accept countries that have been wrongly transformed or significantly deviate from the core values ​​of the European project, Picula concludes.

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