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News 09 Sep 11

Montenegro Government Passes Landmark Electoral Law

Montenegrin politicians have passed a law reforming the country’s outdated electoral system and helping Montenegro on its journey towards EU accession.

Maryrose Fison

The law, which was passed late last night, had been a precondition for the country to be granted EU membership status. It had been debated for four years and until this week the impasse between government and opposition appeared unbreakable.

At the heart of the matter was the sensitive subject of language used in Montenegro’s education system. Montenegro has a multi-ethnic population and opposition parties conditioned their support of election law reform to the granting of Serbian as an official language in the country’s education system.

After months of stalemate, Prime Minister Igor Luksic and opposition leaders yesterday agreed on a compromise, calling the academic subject taught to schoolchildren “Montenegrin-Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian language and literature”.

Hours after this agreement was reached, the new election law was enshrined with a unanimous approval from politicians.

Parliamentary head Ranko Krivojapic said: “By doing this, we have met the first condition. . . towards getting a date for European Union accession talks.”

“We have overcome an obstacle on our path towards the EU,” PM Luksic told journalists.
Montenegro was awarded EU candidate status in December but Brussels said it needed the country to tackle corruption and organised crime and bring its administration and judiciary systems up to standard.

This is in line with EU criteria applied to all countries being considered for membership. Certain standards of democratic, economic and legal matters are prerequisites for joining.

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