Lack of political will followed with track record may endanger Montenegros accession to the EU

Ms. Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director of the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), talked today at the conference „Enlargement in perspective: how do candidate and potential candidate countries perceive accession in the light of the current crisis?” organized at the European Parliament in Brussels and hosted by the MEP Maria Eleni Koppa (Rapporteur on Enlargement at the EP, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the EP) on the occasion of the follow up to her report on Enlargement.

The conference at the European Parliament was opened by MEP Maria Eleni Koppa, and opening remarks were given by Mr Štefan Fulle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood plicy, Mr Jan Marinus Wiersma from Netherlands Institute of International Relations and Mr Othon Anastasakis, Director of the South East European Studies at Oxford University. Within the first panel moderated by Ms Koppa on Accession from the candidate/potential candidate state perspective Ms Daliborka Uljarević, presented the view of the Montenegrin civil society concerning how the enlargement process is perceived in Montenegro, which factors may endanger it and, in particular, what the NGO sector expects from policy makers in the EU and in Montenegro to speed up the process.

In this regard, Ms. Uljarević pointed out that, despite the economical and political crisis that could have discouraged EU countries to engage in new enlargements and accession negotiations, the European institutions proved their commitment and willingness of proceeding with the enlargement strategy in the WB countries. “May any stall happen in the accession process, this will come from the side of Montenegrin institutions which would not show enough commitment and political will to fulfill the European requirements for a democratic and, thus, European country”, stated Uljarević. In addition, she assessed that corruption and organized crime remain open issues and results in these areas are lagging behind, especially compared to the invested funds from the EU and Budget of Montenegro, which was illustrated by the finding of the Centre for Civic Education, recently presented also in Montenegro.

Ms. Uljarević reiterated that results in this area are far from encouraging, also if we take into consideration the neglecting approach of the Prosecution towards handling the affair “Recording”, which has revealed the mechanism of the long last rule of the current government based on the misuse of the public institutions and funds. On the other hand, she informed the MEPs and other participants of the conference that institutions have been prompt and ready to carry out sharpened and politically motivated controls to civil society organisations aimed to undermine and jeopardize their work, in particular the work of those that, with their argument based reports and researches, endanger the credibility of this government in its commitment to pursue a solid track record in the fight against corruption and organized crime and, in general, its true political will to reach a sufficient level of democratic standards in Montenegro.

In the framework of this central conference, Ms. Uljarević took part to several related events and meetings, including a thematic seminar on the challenges of democratic transition and on the recent experience of civil society and political actors in the Western Balkans held at the office of the Heinrich Böll-Stiftung. On this occasion, she stressed that the relationship between NGOs and state institutions is controversial: on one side, cooperation is vivid and solid, but, on the other side, NGOs are labeled as enemies when, with their reports, point out the lacks and failure of state institutions as those which should be first to address citizens’ needs.

Chiara Gaia Iascone, Programme associate