European Parliament welcomes Montenegro’s steps towards EU membership
Today the European Parliament welcomed the reform progress in Montenegro as part of the country’s path towards EU accession.
The recognition by the EU comes at an important time for Montenegro, which is most likely to join NATO this spring. Recent attempts by pro-Russian politicians in Montenegro to plan an unauthorized referendum to stop the country from joining NATO highlights the importance of supporting the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration process and why the European Parliament must show strong support.
ECR MEP, Charles Tannock, who drafted the report, was pleased to see it passed by a large majority of MEPs. However, he expressed concern about the Russian influence in Montenegro: “I remain very concerned about this situation and believe that it is illustrative of the growing presence that Russia is seeking to exert on Montenegro and other countries in the Western Balkans. As Montenegro seeks to join NATO this year I think it key that we in this Parliament demonstrate our support for that decision, and I am pleased to see that it is finally the case”.
Montenegro is the good news story of the Western Balkans. The country began its accession negotiations five years ago and Mr. Tannock concludes it has made good progress in key areas such as justice and fighting corruption and organised crime. Reforms at a political level were also evident at last year’s election, which was held under a new regulatory framework with individual voter registration and an electronic identification system in place. The election was held freely and fairly despite an alleged coup attempt and assassination bid against the then Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic, where reports point, again, to Russian intelligence involvement.
Montenegro is the most advanced country in the Western Balkans, and its reform process should serve as an example for its neighbors.
Mr. Tannock says: “I welcome the recent visit of the High Representative to the region and wholehearted support her message that the “door remains open” to all countries of the Western Balkans to EU membership. It is vital that we ensure that this message carries weight across the region and ensure that EU membership can continue to be the glue that holds the region together in pursuit of peace and prosperity”.
Contact Christina Rasmussen
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