Statement: Maja Kocijancic, EC Spokesperson

Freedom of expression and media is one of the European Union's fundamental values and a crucial element of Montenegro's EU accession process. Independent, pluralistic and strong media are cornerstones of any democratic society, as underlined at the EU-Western Balkans Media Days conference in Tirana just last week.The EU is following very closely the developments with the RTCG Council Public broadcasters have a very important role in society and should always remain independent and shielded from undue influence and political pressure from any side. In its 2016 Report on Montenegro, the European Commission noted that Montenegro had made no progress in the area of media freedom. This assessment was based inter alia on lack of progress in investigating cases of attacks against journalists and media, weak self-regulation mechanisms and challenges in understanding the role of the media. We hope that we can report about positive developments on media freedom in the next report.