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Foreign Affairs Committee welcomes Montenegro's progress, while urging it to do more to tackle media freedom issues, women's rights and gender equality.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament adopted a draft resolution on Montenegro on Tuesday, hailing what it called the country's solid progress.
“Montenegro has made solid progress towards EU membership”, the committee stated after an almost unanimous vote for the report, which was drafted by Charles Tannock, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Montenegro.
At the same time, the MEPs voiced concerns over a spate of violent attacks on Montenegrin journalists, which have not ended in any final courts verdicts so far, noting that the Montenegrin media remains sharply divided on political lines.
For the second year in a row, the committee also called for a more equal representation of women in the Montenegrin parliament and in other top decision-making bodies. Of Montenegro's 81 MPs, only 14 are women.
There is a legal obligation for women to comprise at 30 per cent of electoral lists, but this provision does not apply the structure of the parliament itself.
On January 16, the Foreign Affairs Committee issued a draft opinion that stressed the need to make questions of women’s rights central to all negotiations with potential candidate and candidate countries in the Western Balkans.
Montenegro opened accession negotiations with the EU on June 29, 2012.
The start of Montenegro’s EU talks was marked by a new approach on the part of Brussels, which insists on prioritising the most demanding chapters, which concern organised crime and corruption.
Tuesday’s draft resolution welcomed the EU's new negotiating stance, and urged the Montenegrin parliament to underpin the judiciary's legal independence, which is the main pre-condition of successful fight against organised crime and corruption.
The European Parliament's draft resolution on Montenegro will be put on a plenary vote in March.
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