Montenegro Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić met in Villa Gorica with EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and the Western Balkans Miroslav Lajčák.
In a press release, the Government stated that Prime Minister Krivokapić thanked Lajčák for his continuous support, stressing that Montenegro’s strategic goal is EU membership.
“We see our future exclusively in the EU and we will take all necessary steps to justify the expectations of our citizens,” Krivokapić said.
Krivokapić stressed that Montenegro is committed to strong reforms in the area of the rule of law.
“We strive for our country to get final benchmarks for Chapters 23 and 24 in 2021. In this way, conditions would be created for intensifying reform activities in the field of rule of law, and at the same time impetus will be given to speed up negotiations in all other negotiating chapters of the acquis,” said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister added that in-depth reforms are certainly needed in terms of the efficiency of the prosecution. He briefed Lajčák on prosecutorial law amendments, noting that in his capacity as Prime Minister he had appealed to the Parliament to hold public hearings and consultations with key European partners before passing all systemic laws in the area of the rule of law, including prosecution laws, namely the European Commission and the Venice Commission. Krivokapić also said that the suspension of the criminal proceeding in the “Envelope” case is proof of the weakness of the judiciary. He also cited the case of the Special State Prosecutor as a problem which, as he stated, led to the Prosecutor’s Office losing its reputation. Krivokapić argued that the problem in Montenegro lies not in the existence of laws, but in their implementation.
The Prime Minister noted that the Government is ready to face its biggest challenges, however it needs support and clear indicators for more dynamic progress in the European integration process.
Lajčák said that he was glad to continue the conversation he and Krivokapić had started in Brussels, stressing that Montenegro and the Western Balkans constitutes the EU’s centre of attention and interest.
“Regardless of all the challenges the EU is currently facing, we remain consistent with the policy of EU enlargement, and Montenegro is the most advanced in that process and should retain the leader status. We look at you as a partner, because the direction of Montenegro’s foreign policy is clear. As long as you continue on this path, you could become the Prime Minister who will bring Montenegro into the EU,” Lajčák said.
He said that Montenegro’s trump card is full compliance with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.
He pointed out that the Government’s priority must be tangible results in Chapters 23 and 24.
“An expert government can bring perspective and expertise in this process. For this to happen you must take full responsibility for using the existing laws to strengthen the rule of law. The State must act more convincingly in cases of corruption,” Lajčák said.
He also underlined that he wanted to encourage government representatives to consult with the European Union when making any important decision.
“Montenegro already has bodies and mechanisms in place to ensure judicial and prosecutorial independence and accountability, and should make further progress and not regress in implementing judicial reform. We encourage you to consistently use these mechanisms and build on what has already been acquired, in order to achieve further results in the fight against corruption and organized crime. You will have the full expert assistance of the European Commission to find the best solutions and improve regulations,” said the EU Special Representative for the Western Balkans.
Lajčák added that Montenegro needs stable institutions and professionals who are elected in a transparent manner and based on merit, who are loyal to the state and not to political parties.
Krivokapić also briefed Lajčák on the problems facing Montenegro as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also stated that the Government has tightened the control of the existing measures in order to avoid a total lockdown, which would cause great damage to Montenegrin economy. Furthermore, Krivokapić emphasised that the lack of unity is a problem in the fight against coronavirus.
“This is not the time for one-upmanship, but for solidarity and unity,” Krivokapić said.
Lajčak also met with Montentegro President Milo Đukanović and with Parliament Speaker Aleksa Bečić. /ibna