“The image and expectations of our citizens who see themselves in the EU and Montenegro as the next EU member are something that should build consensus in society and be a counter-thesis and counter-argument to any polarization in society,” said the Chief negotiator Zorka Kordic, guest on the show Europe on Radio Montenegro.
She said that Montenegro is at a turning point, at one main moments when we must direct all our efforts to fulfill the remaining interim benchmarks for the rule of law.
“It is something that was defined in 2013, which has been present in the process from the very beginning, but despite the huge effects, particularly in the field of improving the law, it is an ongoing process. We are now in the turning point when we need to run the final mile and this year is the crucial in terms of maintaining continuous support for membership, the year when we improved the negotiating structure, the year when we improved political dialogue with EU member states and most importantly we have an innovated priority framework. When it comes to the rule of law, which was defined at the last Intergovernmental Conference, it is clear what the remaining efforts are, and the priorities that Montenegro needs to make. “A lot has been done and now we need to show that the process is a joint project of all three branches of government with stronger engagement, with a higher level of understanding that we need dialogue and that we need to work together to finalize all the tasks ahead.” said Kordic.
She assessed that this was a year of consolidation, redefining priorities and crystallizing one vision in order to jointly contribute to being the first next member of the EU.
Speaking about the recent political Intergovernmental Conference between Montenegro and the EU, she emphasized that the Montenegrin delegation underlined its geopolitical commitment to fully pursue harmonization with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, which she said was not just Montenegro’s principle as a NATO member. As well, it is a strong guideline when it comes to the application of our foreign policy goals, which is recognized and praised by a large number of EU member states.
She conveyed that the Montenegrin side spoke about the priorities in the area of rule of law – improving the balance of results in the fight against corruption and organized crime, freedom of the media, as well as economic recovery in the context of the human crisis.
The main message from our side was the willingness and openness of the Government for a stronger dialogue and greater synergy with the Assembly, particularly with regard to the remaining regulations that have been prepared and must be completed in Parliament, especially readiness for dialogue and openness in cooperation. “It is a question of key appointments in the judiciary and all topics that will accelerate the process of European integration, as well as to improve the instruments for cooperation between the Government and the Parliament,” Kordic said.
Speaking about the cooperation with the parliament, the Chief negotiator said that it is essential that there is a lively debate about the modalities of how to accelerate the process of European integration, even if some actors have different views on how to realize some of the obligations.
Speaking about the Action Plan for addressing key recommendations from the EC Report for Montenegro, Kordić said that its purpose is to address the burning recommendations of the EC, in a way that our departments, showing greater ownership and responsibility direct all those activities in all 6 thematic clusters. will lead to a significantly better overall score in the next report.
The focus is that by the end of June, when the EC makes a new cross-section, we will make progress, particularly in those areas where it is necessary to strengthen the legislative framework, adopt certain regulations, ensure better implementation of the acquis, direct our institutions to work harder. On the other hand, keep in mind that all the debate on meeting the remaining provisional benchmarks is in close dialogue with the EC. “After the Intergovernmental Conference, we have an innovated priority framework for the rule of law, we have close cooperation and exchange of views with the EC on the remaining activities that are important to implement or lay the foundations for their medium-term implementation,” the Chief negotiator explained.
In that regard, she pointed out that it is absolutely vital that the negotiating structure is consolidated, not only in terms of adapting to the revised methodology, but also to the new environment that requires a stronger discussion with EU member states.
When asked about the unification of Montenegro and Serbia under one directorate within the EC, Kordić stated that the European Commission was clear that it was its internal issue how it wants to organize the work of its units.
“What is imperative for Montenegro is the consistent application of the regatta principle, ie. progress towards merit, which certainly has a direct connection with 100% compliance with the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, which primarily makes us the only candidate country, and then a clear situation when it comes to progress in individual chapters. There is no dilemma, no grading where the individual candidate countries are. No internal reorganizations in the teams that work on certain issues can and must not jeopardize that principle,” Kordic said.
When it comes to the upcoming French presidency of the EU Council, Kordic says that the Office for European Integration has excellent cooperation with the French team and the General Secretariat for European Affairs of France, and that we have space to talk about ways to apply the revised methodology.
We want to have a serious dialogue and an occasion to consider how Montenegro can be the best example of the application of this revised methodology. Among the priorities of the French presidency will certainly be the green agenda, an area that is important for Montenegro and for the overall progress in the negotiations.
For a successful presidency of the Council of the EU, it is not so much a question for us whether a country has a greater affinity for enlargement policy or the attitudes of its citizens are different, but that we really have space to exchange opinions, affirm our position and have a partner to guide our process in the best way. “As a team, we will try to use this presidency in the best way possible,” the Chief negotiator concluded.
GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF MONTENEGRO
SECTOR FOR INFORMING THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE EU AND THE EU ACCESSION PROCESS