Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

2012 progress report on Montenegro

Delivered in Plenary - 17th April 2013

Mr President

It has been my great privilege to act as Montenegro’s standing rapporteur for this Parliament. Montenegro is a small but beautiful country with much to contribute to the world’s stage and is undoubtedly a success story in the long and tortuous narrative of Western Balkan European accession. Indeed, the smooth conduct of the science and educational chapters in the negotiations so far is not only a testament to Montenegro’s progress, it also offers a real signal to the Western Balkan neighbours that enlargement does not stop with Croatia’s accession and that EU membership can be extended to several other countries, provided they meet the right conditions.

Despite the overall positive outlook, however, we cannot overlook some problems in Montenegro’s accession process. I have reservations about the independence and accountability of the judiciary and some of the training of the judiciary, in addition to the length of court procedures. The legal framework through chapters 23 and 24 in the negotiations must also be strengthened to target corruption and organised crime, and one idea is to introduce an enforceable code of conduct for all elected politicians. This would be very helpful.

The Montenegrin Parliament in general must be more involved in the negotiations, as must the NGOs and civil society.

There are concerns about the freedom of the media. Recent allegations made by Montenegrin journalists have alarmed many of us. All attacks against journalists must be rigorously investigated and prosecuted.

Finally, I congratulate President Vujanović on his re-election as President of Montenegro. I know that there have been complaints and allegations about the results, but I have not seen any evidence that firmly suggests anything other than a close, free and fair election. I therefore call on all political forces to participate now in the parliament in a spirit of open, rational and democratic discourse, not least so that they can all cooperate on the country’s eventual EU accession, so that the legitimate aspirations of this small and beautiful country, as I always call it, can eventually be realised and so that Montenegro will join the family of European nations within the European Union.