First EU-Montenegro SAPC after elections, Bilčík and Bečić call for acceleration of reforms
BRUSSELS / PODGORICA – Following today’s 19th remote meeting of the EU-Montenegro Parliamentary Stabilization and Association Committee (SAPC), the first since the change of power in the August 2020 elections, Co-Chairs Aleksa Bečić from the Montenegrin side and MEP Vladimír Bilčík issued a joint statement, in which they called for the acceleration of Montenegro’s EU accession process and the implementation of related reforms.
“We are pleased that the 33 chapters examined have been opened, with closing benchmarks set in all, except for chapters 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights) and 24 (justice, freedom and security), but regret that since the opening of accession negotiations with Montenegro in June 2012, only three chapters have been provisionally closed and consider it necessary to accelerate the pace of accession and related reforms in Montenegro, ”the statement said.
The European Parliament is eagerly awaiting the current appointments in the administrative structures in the area of the rule of law, including the heads and members of the working groups of the two chapters, which have prevented the resumption of their activities.
“We expect concrete and tangible results in key areas of the rule of law, and in particular in the areas of freedom of expression and the media as a priority, including the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the attacks against the journalists. Further efforts are needed to increase the independence, transparency, accountability and efficiency of all judicial institutions and to build up a credible track record in the fight against corruption and organized crime at all levels, ”the statement said. .
Bilčík and Bečić reaffirmed the importance of accelerating reforms of the judicial system and of following up the opinions of the Venice Commission in a comprehensive manner. We stress that the independent functioning of the Office of the Special Prosecutor is essential for Montenegro’s progress in the rule of law.
In light of the credit agreement with a Chinese bank EXIM for the construction of the first section of the Bar-Boljare highway, the SAPC expressed concern about Montenegro’s growing foreign dependence and called on the European Commission to seek ways to help Montenegro diversify its credit portfolio and strengthen the country’s financial stability and independence.
Bilčík and Bečić noted that the parliament had adopted a decision on the establishment of the Committee for Comprehensive Electoral Reform already in December 2020 and that the Committee had not yet delivered results in improving the existing electoral framework and restoring citizens’ confidence in the elections, in accordance with OSCE / ODIHR election observation missions ” recommendations. They called on the opposition to participate in the work of the Committee and of Parliament in general.
They also welcomed the EU’s assistance to Montenegro in tackling the COVID-19 crisis through the COVAX Vaccine Sharing Mechanism and other important channels.
Good neighborly relations and regional cooperation are essential to the enlargement process and therefore encourage Montenegro to continue to play a constructive role in the region, through an inclusive and non-confrontational dialogue, the declaration concludes.
During the meeting, President Bečić said that during the second half of June he would initiate a dialogue between parliamentary parties in order to find a solution for all functions and positions requiring support from two thirds or three. fifths in the Parliament of Montenegro.
He said the new government is determined to move from the phase of stagnation that has marked recent years to the offensive phase and to achieve concrete results in the area of the rule of law. Opposition MPs, on the other hand, accused the ruling majority of undermining European values in Montenegro and rejecting dialogue.