By Adnan Prekic – Podgorica
Two years since he took over again as prime minister of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, at the end of August for the first time will have an official meeting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Djukanovic has often been criticised by opposition leaders in Montenegro that since he returned to the prime minister seat he did not have any significant bilateral meetings with international officials. Djukanovic’s predecessor, Igor Luksic in March 2011 had an official meeting with the German Chancellor. The process of European integration of Montenegro and economic cooperation among the countries of the region will be key topics of the talks in Berlin.
Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic will attend the conference on the Western Balkans, which will be held on August 28th in Berlin, under the auspices of the Federal Government of Germany. The conference will be hosted by the chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. This will be the first meeting between Merkel and Montenegrin Prime Minister Djukanovic after his return to power at the end of 2012. As announced by the Montenegrin Government, the conference will be attended by the prime ministers, foreign ministers and ministers responsible for the economy of the Western Balkans.
The focus of the discussion between German Chancellor and Djukanovic will be the European integration of the Western Balkans. The aim of the conference is to provide an additional incentive for progress in the economy and the rule of law, security and reconciliation in the region. The Conference should confirm the commitment of the European Union, and Germany to the European perspective of the Western Balkans, as was expressed in June 2003 at the Thessaloniki Summit. The Government of Montenegro has announced that the meeting between Djukanovic and Merkel will be an opportunity to present the results achieved in Montenegro in the process of European integration and to show the current indicators of Montenegro’s comprehensive reform of society.
Besides Montenegro, the conference will be attended by representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia. Also, in addition to delegations of the countries of the Western Balkans, at the conference was also invited the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule. Representatives of the Netherlands, Austria and the Republic of France are also invited at the conference as observers.
The meeting with the German Chancellor comes in the most important time of Montenegrin negotiations with Brussels. Negotiation process between Montenegro and EU has been going on for two years and so far it resulted in the opening of a number of chapters, but based on this information alone we cannot reach a conclusion as to whether real progress has been made. If it is said that Montenegro in two years has opened 1/3 of the chapters we can say that progress is evident. Yet all in Montenegro agree that “paperwork”, or the adoption of laws, is much easier to implement than substantive reforms. Montenegro’s Stabilization and Association Agreement was signed on October 2007 and a year later Montenegro filed a formal application for EU membership. The completed questionnaire to the European Commission was sent to Brussels in early 2010. The official candidate status for membership in the EU was received by Montenegro on December 17, 2010. In late 2011 the European Commission proposed the beginning of the negotiations in June of the following year, and on June 29, 2012 the European Council announced the official beginning of the negotiations with Montenegro.
The meeting in Berlin will be important for NATO integration of Montenegro, although it is likely that at the impending summit Montenegro cannot expect good news. During the upcoming NATO summit in Wales, Montenegro will not be invited for membership. NATO member countries find that the reform of the Intelligence Service is not yet completed and that Montenegro has to complete the given conditions until the end of next year.