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29 Mar 11

EU Official Tells Montenegro: No Enlargement Fatigue

European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele told Montenegrin officials in Podgorica that the small Balkan country can help the EU achieve new momentum for enlargement.

Government of Montenegro

Following his meeting with Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Luksic on Monday, Fuele said that 2011 should be a year when “a new momentum in enlargement is reached. Montenegro is a very important country, it is playing a very important role in ensuring that we indeed reach this new momentum.”

He assured Montenegro that “there is no enlargement fatigue” in the EU, especially when “there is clear determination and hard work on the side of the aspiring countries and the candidate countries.”

Fuele commended the cooperation between the EU and the Montenegrin government, adding that the discussion with PM Luksic “has proven that determination and ambitions are there”. He stressed that the Commission “will provide as much help as we can to assist Montenegro,” in particular to meet the seven EC priorities that must be achieved in order for accession negotiations to begin.

Asked whether new tasks will be given to Montenegro, Fuele said: “We do not change the rules of the game during the game”.

He added that he was glad to meet with opposition leaders and to “see their determination to work constructively with the Government and other stakeholders to fulfil those seven key priorities.” He pledged that no new tasks will be given and assured that all countries “will be judged based on their own merits.”

Prime Minister Igor Luksic said that Montenegro would “respond in the best way possible to the seven criteria set by the EC for the opening of accession negotiations.”

Luksic informed Commissioner Fuele of the new legislation adopted in Montenegro, in particular the human rights protection law and the law on de-criminalisation of defamation and libel.

In November, the European Commission recommended that Montenegro be granted official candidate status, but outlined several areas where Podgorica must make improvements before accession negotiations can begin.

Fuele, presenting the European Commission's annual progress report in November, said further work was needed in the field of the rule of law.

Although the country is considered a parliamentary democracy, parliament's control of the government remains weak, the Commission said in the report. And although there is broad consensus on the fundamentals of economic policy, the Commission does not believe that the country is a functioning market economy.

The report notes: "The main concerns are related to the politicization of the judiciary and shortcomings in the functioning of law enforcement institutions, in particular in fighting organized crime and corruption. There are also concerns over efficiency and accountability of the judiciary."

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