Fourteenth meeting of the European Union - Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee (SAPC), under the joint chairmanship of Mr Ivan Brajović, President of the Parliament of Montenegro, and Mr David Martin, Chairman of the EP's Delegation to the EU-Montenegro SAPC, was held in Podgorica today.
In his introductory statement, President of the Parliament of Montenegro Mr Ivan Brajović reminded that the previous 13 meeting of the European Union - Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee (SAPC) were one of the proofs of the tremendous path that we have gone through from our independence until today, particularly in the field of the rule of law and strengthening of institutions, adding the NATO membership and leader position in the European integration were the confirmation of the correctness of the current policy.
President Brajović stressed that meetings like this one were crucial for defining parliamentary priorities in the following period, and that the SAPC proved to be an excellent tool for exchanging opinions and experiences among parliamentarians, with regard to contributing to Montenegro’s integration into the European Union. That partnering relation implies that, aside from receiving commendations as a leader in the Western Balkans integration process, we are also ready to constructive critical relationship and honouring of suggestions, he said.
President Brajović also commented on the presence of the strongest opposition group at the SAPC meeting, convinced that accepting of political reality was effective for the overall society and a precondition for further advancement and development of the state, and that absence of remaining opposition MPs will not slow down the work on fulfilling these obligations. He thinks that such attitude raises doubts as to whether the opposition consciously wants to slow down the European integration of our country, now that Montenegro is a full member of NATO and a leader in European integrations throughout the region, because as the country that leads the process, it has the greatest obligation to justify enlargement policy before the member states.
The Parliament and the Government office will last for another three years, which will be devoted to strengthening of Euro-Atlantic Montenegro and to meeting aims from the European agenda, further strengthening of institutions and economic progress, which ultimately leads to improving the life of our citizens, President Ivan Brajović concluded.
During the introductory part, the attendees were also addresses by Mr David Martin, Chairman of the EP's Delegation to the EU-Montenegro SAPC, who expressed pleasure that Montenegro would join the EU in the close future, saying that the EP had brought representatives of six different political groups, which proved a devotion to the enlargement process in the EU and the interest it was causing. He said that they were satisfied with the progress that Montenegro had achieved with regard to EU membership, not underestimating the challenges it was still facing, but with the clear proof for the achieved progress.
Mr Zoran Pažin, Deputy Prime Minister for Political System, Interior and Foreign Policy said, on behalf the Government of Montenegro, that the SAPC was one of the key tools for analysing the current cooperation state between Montenegro and the EU, and parliamentary monitoring of the stabilisation and association process.
H.E. Mr Daniel Erik Schaer, Ambassador of Estonia to Montenegro, addressed on behalf of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, noting that Montenegro was a frontrunner in the accession process and a reliable partner of the EU, as well as a frontrunner in the Western Balkans region, praising Montenegro’s consistent and fully harmonised foreign and security policy and giving support to fostering of good neighbourly relations.
EU ambassador to Montenegro Mr Aivo Orav reminded, on behalf of the EC, that Montenegro was a regional frontrunner, in the EU integration as well, which had been confirmed at the recent ministerial intergovernmental conference, while the opening of two additional chapters - which were the core of the EU freedom - had confirmed devotion to Montenegro’s progress towards the EU.
In the continuation of the 14th SAPC meeting, a discussion was held on the status of the accession negotiations and relations between the EU and Montenegro, and the keynote speakers were Mr Charles Tannock, member of the EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee and Rapporteur on Montenegro, and Mr Adrijan Vuksanović, Chairperson of the parliamentary Committee on European Integration.
MP Vuksanović noted that, since the previous SAPS, we had had meaningful and good quality time for European integration, we had opened additional four chapters and ticked thirty opened negotiation chapters and three provisionally closed chapters. He voiced his expectation that would continue with the good practice and open three more chapters and that during the next year we would strongly go towards the dynamics of closing the negotiation chapters.
They also discussed the functioning of the Parliament and electoral reform ahead of the upcoming elections, and the keynote speakers were Mr Ivan Brajović, co-chair and President of the Parliament of Montenegro, and Mr Jozo Radoš of the EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
President Brajović pointed out that the results that we had achieved at the international and domestic level in 2017 factually confirmed that this had been a very successful year for Montenegro and this convocation of the Parliament. The implementation of essential reforms, both from the domain of the rule of law and of economic and financial stability, stimulating growth and development of Montenegro, reaffirmed our European orientation. We had demonstrated that, according to all parameters, political stability, economic criteria and constructive role in the region, in addition to all challenges, we had kept the leading position, assessed President Brajović.
The speakers on the track record in fight against corruption and organised crime were Ms Joëlle Bergeron of the EP’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Ms Daliborka Pejović, Chairperson of the parliamentary Anti-corruption Committee.
MP Pejović said that we were pleased with the achieved results to the extent to which the European Commission highlighted progress. Significant progress had been made in legislative reforms, fight against corruption and crime, as well as the steps forward with regard to strengthening borders and border control, especially with regard to migrants and asylum-seekers. She especially pointed out the need for the strengthening of institutional capacities and the obligation towards the Agency for Prevention of Corruption.
For the topic “Fundamental rights and freedoms, with focus on media freedom”, the keynote speakers were: Mr Thomas Waitz, member of the EP’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and Mr Luigj Shkrela, Chairperson of the parliamentary Administrative Committee.
The MP Shkrela recalled that in the previous period, through the joint activities of the responsible authorities, significant contributions had been made in the field of human rights of persons deprived of liberty and emphasised that efforts had been made continuously in order to implement the Ombudsman's recommendations, as well as in the field of gender equality and persons with disabilities.
The introduction in the topic “Economy and public finances” was given by Mr Jan Olbrycht, member of the EP’s Committee on Budgets, and Mr Branimir Gvozdenović, Vice President of the Parliament of Montenegro.
Vice President Gvozdenović noted that the Parliament of Montenegro was one of the key generators of prosperity, working on the same programme platform with the Government of Montenegro. Another record season has been recorded in tourism, and stable coordination mechanism has been created, while the increase in tourism has been followed by a large number of investment projects, including one of the greatest - the building of the highway Bar - Boljare, he said and added that Montenegro had the fastest growth in the region.
At the end of the meeting, they decided to hold the next 15th SAPC on 16 and 17 July 2018 in Podgorica.
Following the 14th SAPC, President of the Parliament of Montenegro Mr Ivan Brajović and Chairman of the EP's Delegation to the SAPC Mr David Martin, gave their press statements.
Press statement of President Brajović - SAPC
Press statement of Chairman of the EP's Delegation to the SAPC Mr David Martin