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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Montenegro’s EU accession: Shaping a common future

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Montenegro is ready for the final phase of negotiations, and it’s up to the EU leaders to demonstrate the credibility of the enlargement policy, stated Oliver Varhelyi. He made this announcement at the opening of the “Towards a Common Future” conference and reiterated that Europe must be prepared for the next enlargement considering the current geopolitical circumstances.

“For Montenegro, EU accession is not just another political priority, but a generational choice through which we plan to shape our society in the times ahead,” said Minister of European Affairs Maida Gorčević in Brussels.

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“In recent months, only positive news has been coming from Montenegro. With a determined approach, we have managed to resolve the most problematic obligations in the rule of law sector, and we are confident that at this pace, we will successfully conclude the negotiations and become the 28th EU member by 2028,” Gorčević stated. She spoke on a panel at the “Towards a Common Future” conference organized by the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

“Montenegro has full compliance with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, is a member of NATO, already uses the euro, 80 percent of its citizens support EU membership, has no open disputes with neighboring countries, has favored status in EU accession negotiations, and clearly demonstrates readiness to further contribute to the stability of the EU and the Western Balkans as the next EU member state,” Gorčević clarified.

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She added that the upcoming celebration of the 20th anniversary of the largest EU enlargement is another opportunity for all to witness the tremendous success achieved within the EU enlargement policy.

“I count on the wisdom and responsibility of European political elites to take the right steps and repeat the previous success of enlargement, this time in Montenegro and the Western Balkans,” Gorčević said. She noted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine served as a reminder to EU decision-makers of its most effective tool for spreading democracy, stability, and prosperity on the European continent, which is the EU enlargement policy. Today, without successful stories of previous enlargements, it would be inconceivable, or almost impossible, to address the ongoing aggression in Ukraine.

“I understand that some EU members are concerned about additional costs or budgetary implications that enlargement may bring. However, I believe that the unstable Western Balkans region, influenced by third countries, poses a much greater threat to member states and the EU project,” Gorčević said.

She particularly emphasized regional cooperation and good neighborly relations as one of the three main pillars of Montenegro’s foreign policy, alongside credible NATO membership and European integration. She pointed out that the New Growth Plan for the Western Balkans will open the horizon for the gradual integration of Western Balkan countries into the EU single market, which will have a significant impact on further economic development in the Western Balkans.

The “Towards a Common Future” conference was opened by European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, who reiterated that Europe must be prepared for the next enlargement considering the current geopolitical circumstances. Montenegro is ready for the final phase of negotiations, and it is up to EU leaders to demonstrate the credibility of the enlargement policy. EU leaders believe that EU enlargement will be one of the top three priorities of the next European Commission mandate, and this clearly obliges both sides, the EU, and the candidate countries, to harness the transformative power of this process and implement necessary reforms – Varhelyi concluded.

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