News 31 May 13

Ambassador Chides Montenegro's 'Limited' EU Progress

The German ambassador told Vijesti that ensuring the efficiency and independence of the judiciary will be the toughest part of Montenegro's EU membership talks - noting 'limited' progress over the last 10 months.

Milena Milosevic

Pius Fischer told the daily newspaper that Brussels viewed Montenegro's process with concern.  “Over the last ten months, we saw limited progress," he said in an interview.

Referring to recent remarks from Stefan Fule, the EU Enlargement Commissioner, that the “number of challenges accumulating" on the Montenegrin political front should be addressed,  he maintained that the EU was not changing policy towards Montenegro.

At the same time, he said that action plans on chapters 23 and 24 - on the fight against organized crime and corruption, and constitutional changes aimed at bolstering the independence of judiciary - should be put into place before these demanding chapters were actually opened.

The government published and called for public consultations on a draft action plan for opening Chapter 23 on May 13. But a final version of the plan is yet to be determined.

The draft plan envisages constitutional changes being completed by September. Their aim is to depoliticise the system of appointing the supreme state prosecutor, the president of the supreme court and members of the judicial and prosecutorial councils.

Fischer said that he expected these changes to be completed before the Chapters 23 and 24 are opened.

“Given the Montenegrin practice, some time will pass before we have an independent and efficient judiciary, which delivers results. It will be the toughest part of the talks,” he predicted.

The so-called audio-recording affair was also a topic of the newspaper interview with the German ambassador.

The affair broke out after the opposition daily newspaper Dan in February published leaked transcripts of sessions of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS.

In the leaks, party officials appeared to promise jobs and loans to party supporters and donors.

“The audio recordings demonstrated a way of thinking that is inconceivable for a country striving to reach the rule of law,” Fischer noted, assuring that the EU, and especially  Germany, will follow the way that the country's institutions address the affair.


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