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Lukšić-Steinmeier: Germany supports Montenegro’s European and Euro-Atlantic bids

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Igor Lukšić paid an official visit to Berlin at the invitation of Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Both sides agreed that the two countries’ political cooperation is growing in intensity and content. Mr Steinmeier has said that Montenegro is a Western Balkans country that has made the most progress towards the EU, which is corroborated by the fact that two more negotiating chapters will soon be launched. He reiterated that the accession talks’ focus will remain on the key chapters, 23 and 24, in which substantial progress has been made so far, and he was hopeful that in the time to come the emphasis will be put on concrete implementation, which is in Montenegro’s best interest.

At the level of Euro-Atlantic integration, Mr Steinmeier underlined Germany’s support for Montenegro’s NATO integration, at the same time commending the efforts in this regard and stressing the need for further implementation of the Membership Action Plan with the Cardiff summit decisions in mind.

In addition to EU and NATO, Mr Lukšić and his German counterpart also spoke about Montenegro’s view on the topics such as Sutorina and the developments related to solving the issue of Prevlaka.

The two officials discussed regional and international developments. Mr Steinmeier voiced gratitude and respect for Montenegro regarding its alignment with the EU’s common foreign and security policy.

With Christoph Heusgen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s advisor for foreign policy and security Mr Lukšić spoke about Montenegro’s further progress towards NATO membership and in that regard Mr Heusgen reiterated once more Berlin’s readiness to intensify cooperation in the future. The two officials discussed EU integration and current development in the regions and the world.

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Cyprus: Small EU countries’ experience important for Montenegro

The experience of small countries such as Cyprus and Malta, both in terms of accession negotiations and EU membership, can be extremely helpful for Montenegro’s EU accession talks, the trilateral meeting between foreign ministers of Montenegro, Cyprus, and Malta has concluded.

During the first day of his official visit to Cyprus, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Igor Lukšić spoke with Cyprus’s and Malta’s head diplomats about the transfer of experience in EU integration and the possibilities to bring the three Mediterranean countries even closer.

He reiterated the current developments in the EU accession process, noting at the same time that Montenegro is diligently pursuing its EU agenda commitments. Thus far, we have made good results in accession talks, but we are aware of the future challenges and we are focused on them and on implementing reforms in all areas as successfully as possible, especially in the areas of rule of law, economic governance, and administrative capacities, Mr Lukšić has said.

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Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides also noted Montenegro’s progress. Montenegro is an example of successful democratic development and security in the region with a clear European perspective, he noted. He also underlined the commitment of Montenegro’s institution to implementing EU-related reforms, which in his words has yielded concrete results and is spurring constant progress. He said that Montenegro can count on all the help in transfer of experience, knowledge, and technology, based on long-term EU membership of a small administration.

Messages of encouragement and positive assessments also came from Malta’s Minister George Vella. It is a pleasure seeing the progress Montenegro has made. A responsible and committed approach to the accession negotiations and ensuing obligations commands full respect and support, Mr Vella has said, reiterating his country’s full support to Montenegro’s EU efforts from their very beginning. Malta’s head diplomat noted the possibility for cooperation and assistance in various areas, and especially in the context of public administration reform.

The three officials also exchanged opinions on current global topics and regional developments, especially in the Western Balkans countries. In that regard, Mr Lukšić recalled the priorities in regional initiatives and the importance of joint activity on improving infrastructure as a precondition of faster economic development.

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EU’s Parliament Resolution: Clear picture of Montenegro’s progress and advice for improvements in pursuing EU’s membership

European Parliament adopted earlier today the Resolution on Montenegro, which highlighted the need to further reform the country’s judicial system and boost media freedom, while underlining the progress Montenegro has made as the only country in the region opening and provisionally closing some negotiating chapters.

The Resolution welcomed Montenegro’s full alignment with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, stressing that more efforts should be made in fighting corruption, ensuring independence of the judiciary and guaranteeing freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

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Three-day workshop on EU negotiation skills in Budva

German International Cooperation Society (GIZ) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration hosted a three-day workshop in Budva (3-5 March 2015) for South-Eastern European diplomats. The workshop dealt with negotiation techniques and daily diplomatic activities, with a special emphasis on EU institutions. Participants were 17 diplomats from six countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

In addition to ensuring the acquisition of new knowledge, the workshop was an opportunity to exchange opinions on the dynamics of the Western Balkans' EU accession. Director-General for European Affairs at the Ministry Snežana Radović informed the participants about Montenegro's negotiating structure and the development of the negotiation process. She presented Montenegro's results and underlined the commitments it needs to meet. Ms Radović emphasised that Montenegro, as a country that has made the most progress in EU accession of all the candidate countries, is ready to transfer its negotiation experience to its neighbours and thus to contribute to the reforms processes and integration processes in the region.

Workshop participants commended the event and the opportunity to exchange opinion and hear about the lessons learned. In that context, the importance of regional cooperation in EU integration was underlined and especially the implementation of joint projects.

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Lange: Further progress necessary in fight against corruption

Montenegro has made progress in the work on action plans, in particular when talking about aligning the legislative framework, but it is necessary to make more progress in the field of fight against corruption and organized crime, said European Commission's official Dirk Lange.

Chief Negotiator of Montenegro Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic and Lange, Head of the Unit for Montenegrin in the EC Directorate for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement, opened Wednesday the fifth meeting of the Montenegro-EC Justice, Freedom and Security Subcommittee.

Lange praised revision of action plans for chapters 23 and 24 of the negotiation processes, stating that it was up to country to implement them in adequate manner.

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"It does not mean that you did not fulfill anything, but on contrary. That shows maturity on your side, as well as readiness to revise the system and adopt is when needed", Lange explained.

According to him, generally speaking, Montenegro has achieved progress in the work on action plans, in particular when speaking about aligning of the legislation.

"What we would like to see is more progress in field of fight against corruption and organized crime", said he.

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Lange emphasized the importance of strengthening of capacities of State Electoral Commission (DIK).

"For now it is only on paper, it is necessary to see more efficient results in practice", Lange said.

He commented on the creation of new institutions, stating that establishing of a new Anti-Corruption Agency and the Special Public Prosecution cannot be delayed.

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Lange also commented on the cooperation of the relevant authorities with the civil sector in the reform process and the field of rule of law.

Emphasizing the importance of holding of the Subcommittee's session and support that the EU offers to Montenegro in this field, Pejovic reiterated that Montenegro was the first country which reached achievements in chapters 23 and 24 by applying "new approach".

"The Subcommittee's meeting contributes to further improvement of the dialogue with the EU and further affirmation of the cooperation with the EC", said he.

Pejovic also emphasized the completed reform of electoral legislation during the last year, as well as finalization of the legislation in the field of judiciary.

Mina News Agency

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Focus on track record

The revised action plans for EU negotiation chapters 23 and 24 are putting more emphasis on the implementation of the new legislative framework, better functioning of institutions and achieving good track record, Montenegro's Chief EU Negotiator Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic has said.

At Thursday's session, the government adopted a document revising action plans for chapters 23 and 24 and envisaging a details plan of activities for the coming period.

"The government has adopted a document that will be a cornerstone of its work in meeting three key benchmarks, as well as in completing the activities that started a year and a half ago, when the action plans were first adopted," Pejovic told the press after the cabinet meeting.

Pejovic explained that the government has extended deadlines in certain areas where implementation has been delayed or not enough progress has been achieved, making the plans more elaborate.

"We can say that the action plans are now focused on better functioning of institutions and creating a better track record," the chief negotiator explained, adding that the document was revised in consultations with the European Commission, EU experts and the general public.

He noted that the government also adopted a report on the 2014 Action Plan for the Implementation of the Strategy for Public Information on European integration and a new action plan for 2015.

Pejovic also announced the government's decision to establish the National Investment Committee, responsible for preparing a list of strategic national infrastructure projects to be funded through EU support.

"We are now entering a new financial period, in which the whole of the Western Balkans will receive one billion Euros for infrastructure projects. This is why a special committee was established to decide which projects will be nominated for EU funding," he explained.

Mina News Agency

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Schengen action plan to build border police capacities

The project of developing Montenegro's Schengen action plan will help build the capacities of the border police and improve international police cooperation, officials of the Montenegrin Government, Slovenian Interior Ministry and Slovenian Embassy in Montenegro have agreed.

According to a press release from the Montenegrin MFA, State Secretary for European Integration Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic hosted State Secretary at the Slovenian Interior Ministry Andrej Spenga, who is visiting Podgorica for the launch of the project of developing Montenegro's Schengen action plan, and Slovenian Ambassador Vladimir Gasparic.

"The meeting noted that the implementation of this project will help strengthen the capacities of the border police and improve international police cooperation, which will create conditions for Montenegro's successful preparation for the future Schengen regime on its borders," the press release said.

Both sides expressed satisfaction with the level of cooperation between the two countries, in particular the bilateral cooperation during the negotiation process.

"Pejovic stressed that Slovenia takes a top position on the list of countries that have provided technical support in Montenegro's EU integration process so far. By the same token, he thanked Slovenian experts for their support in drafting action plans for chapters 23 and 24, as well as in preparing for negotiations in other areas of the acquis," the MFA stated.

Mina News Agency

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Paque: Montenegro leader in negotiations

Montenegro is a leader of the accession negotiations, creation of legislative framework in priority fields is nearing end, but the results cannot be expected overnight, said Jean Eric Paque from the EU Directorate General for Enlargement.

He told the press conference that during his visit to Montenegro he met with many officials, but also representatives of the civil sector, in order to get introduced with the situation in the country.

Priority fields in the negotiations, as he said, were the rule of law, economy condition, reform of public sector, but also regional connectedness.

Asked by the press which the mechanisms that the EU could possibly undertake if Montenegro would not achieve visible results in the cases of organized crime and corruption were, he said that a lot was achieved in establishing legislative framework, but that the results cannot be expected overnight.

Paque said that the European Commission and the EU were systematically engaged regarding these areas, and "we first work on legislative framework and that was the main topic in the previous years in the negotiations with Montenegro".

According to him, a lot was done in Montenegro and it was expected that all legal acts in that field would be adopted soon.

He remarked that Montenegro achieved progress since opening of the EU negotiations. "I am excited to work with Montenegro; your country is the leader in negotiations".

Opening of the negotiation chapters, as he said, was one of the indicators of progress, but not the only one.

"I think that it is equally important to ensure the reforms that are the foundation for opening of negotiation chapters really give visible results in the field and in the practice, in the field of rule of law in particular", said Paque.

During the press conference, Paque reiterated the importance of the Framework Agreement that was signed and that would enable significant EU funds to be available to Montenegro in the amount of €270 million by 2020.

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Montenegro joins “Europe for Citizens 2014-2020”

Head of Mission of Montenegro to the EU Ivan Leković and European Commission's Director General for Communication Gregory Paulger signed yesterday in Brussels an agreement on Montenegro's accession to the "Europe for Citizens 2014-2020" programme.

The objective of "Europe for Citizens 2014-2020" is to bring Europe closer to citizens and to enable for their active participation in the development and implementation of European ideals and mission. In addition to receiving access to a fund of around 186 million EUR, civil society organisations from Montenegro, local governments, and education institutions will be able to join various transnational cooperation activities and engage actively in the development of EU policies, thus contributing to the development of a sense of belonging to the Union and improving the EU integration process.

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Three-day workshop on the adaptation of action plans for Chapters 23 and 24 held in Kolašin

The German GIZ institute for international cooperation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration hosted a workshop in Kolašin on 3-5 November 2014 devoted to the adaptation of action plans for Chapters 23 and 24.

The event gathered representatives of state institutions and NGOs who participate in the working groups on those chapters, GIZ, EU Commission, EU Delegation to Montenegro, as well as Croatian experts who provided support in drafting the action plans and TAIEX, EUROPOL, and UK experts.

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