Speed up the dynamics of work regarding Chapter 23

In the framework of the project “EU Info Bus: on the road to the EU!”, the panel discussion “Montenegro in the process of negotiations with the European Union: chapter 23 – Judiciary and fundamental rights” was held today at the conference room of the Faculty of Law at the University of Montenegro, in cooperation with ELSA Montenegro. The project “EU Info Bus: on the road to the EU!” is carried out by the Centre for Civic Education with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the NGO Natura and it is funded by the EU Delegation to Montenegro.

Panelists of the event were Daliborka ULJAREVIĆ, executive director of the CCE, PhD Vladimir SAVKOVIĆ, professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Montenegro, Annalisa GIANSANTI, political advisor at the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Lyndon RADNEDGE, Deputy Head of Mission of United Kingdom, Svetlana RAJKOVIĆ, Deputy minister of Justice and Human Rights and member of the negotiation group in charge of chapter 23 and 24 and Snežana RADOVIĆ, general director for European Integration at the MFAEI.

Professor Vladimir Savković welcomed participants of the discussion and underlined the importance of informative and educative activities of this kind and the commitment of the Faculty of Law to support the process of negotiations. Moreover, he assessed that this process redefines the system of values. “We will see how much this is related to our needs and our interest and not merely a foreign policy activity”, concluded Savković.

Daliborka Uljarević presented the project and underlined the importance of communication of the European affairs to the citizens. Concerning chapter 23, she stated that the NGO sector is not satisfied with the dynamics of the work: “We believe that not enough has been done to establish a platform for the amendments to the Constitution of Montenegro and this directly slows down the needed process of reforms to the judiciary in Montenegro. What we have identify so far, as large obstacle for achievement of successful results within the chapter 23, the poor communication amongst state bodies. There are plenty of examples where state bodies apply normative standards in an inadequate, untimely and unprofessional way.” Uljarević added that the NGO sector closely follows the development of action plans and it will call for a public debate of the same upon their completion in line with EC and prior to their adoption by the Government, in line with the Law on state administration. Transparency and an inclusive process are fundamental for a fast democratization and Europeization of Montenegrin society. She further added that this panel discussion is aimed to increase general knowledge of citizens on EU policies, its goals, values, priorities, institutions, as well as to promote perspectives that future membership of Montenegro in the EU brings with it.

Snežana Radović presented the current state of affairs within negotiations, emphasizing that in less than one year 24 working groups have been established and that one chapter (25 – Science and research) has already been opened and temporary closed, whereas is soon to be expected the opening and closing of chapter 26 (Education and culture).

Annalisa Giansanti made references to the expectations of the EU from Montenegro regarding chapter 23, in particular concerning judiciary, anti-corruption legislation and its implementation and human rights, stating that all this requires a lasting legislative activity and a sound implementation of laws. She announced that, after the opening of chapter 23 and 24, the European Commission would deliver monitoring reports in this regard.

Svetlana Rajković agreed that the process is very complicated and that, in fact, negotiating means «how, in which way and how much time we will need to fulfill all requirements». She confirmed the importance of the inclusion of the civil sector in the negotiation structure, adding that this is a process for learning both for the Government and the NGO sector.

Lyndon Radgendge stated that joining the EU is a process that includes all levels of society and that democracy is more than only about elections. The project «EU Info Bus: on the road to the EU!” aims to increase knowledge, understanding and support to the process of EU integration among citizens of Montenegro through an educative-informative campaign carried out in 6 municipalities of the Central Region of Montenegro, i.e. Podgorica, Nikšić, Danilovgrad, Cetinje, Kolašin and Mojkovac. The project includes several activities planned to enhance knowledge and awareness of citizens on the EU integration process.

Damir Nikočević, PR/Programme associate