Western Balkans Strategy

Photo: Government of Montenegro

Podgorica, 6 February, 2018 – Serbia and Montenegro are the only countries in the Western Balkans that have received a clear timetable for possible EU accession in 2025 and this can be achieved if these two countries progress in the reform process. This was the assessment during the presentation of the document “A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans”, presented in Strasbourg by the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of European Commission, Federica Mogerini.

Details of the Strategy were communicated to the Montenegrin public by the EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, and Prime Minister Dusko Markovic. Orav pointed out that the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans is very advantageous for Montenegro, the government, the opposition, civil society and all citizens.

“Montenegro is recognised in the Strategy as the leading country. If Montenegro wants to move faster, of course, there is a chance to move faster,” said Ambassador Orav.

Although much has already been done, the Ambassador added that there is still more work to be done and that reforms are needed in many areas, especially in the areas of the rule of law, media freedom, the fight against organised crime and corruption, the judiciary and fundamental rights.

“In order to realise all these goals, political dialogue is necessary. It is the responsibility of all political actors to engage constructively within the framework of the democratic process and to confirm what the European Union has already put forward many times – the debate should be held in parliament,” Orav said.

The Montenegrin Prime Minister, Dusko Markovic, said that the Strategy for the Western Balkans is an important document because, for the first time, through the definition of a timeframe, the Western Balkans has received the message that it will be a formal and integral part of Europe, with the prospect of the next enlargement by 2025, and he expressed his belief that Montenegro could become a member of the European Union even before that deadline.

“For Montenegro, as the most advanced country with the most opened chapters, this document has special significance, because our country is mentioned in the context of being the next EU member, in the timeframe of 2025, as a credible period in which we can be ready for membership. And if we achieve adequate results, accession could be earlier,” Markovic said.

The Montenegrin Prime Minister noted that the Strategy represents a positive signal at the present moment when the region needs a clear message that the European perspective for the countries of the Western Balkans is credible and alive.

The Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro organised a live streaming presentation of the Strategy from Strasbourg for the media and the diplomatic corps at the EU Info Centre.