In the WG on the assessment of the Open Balkan initiative for Montenegro to include also critically oriented civic sector

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) welcomes the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of European Affairs, Jovana Marović, that the Government of Montenegro will form a Working Group to assess the (in)compliance of the Open Balkans initiative with our path to the EU, as well as good neighborly relations and potential economic benefits. The CCE calls on Deputy Prime Minister Marović to do everything in her power to open this working group to the participation of civic society, especially those representatives of civic society who have a different view from the dominant narrative in the Government.

CCE reminds the public that the insisting of some members of the Government on this initiative in the past provoked various reactions from stakeholders and encouraged numerous controversies in public, with great potential to further divide Montenegrin society, which is already tired of deep divisions on various grounds. Arguments against or in favor of this initiative are heard on a daily basis, but there are still no qualitatively substantive discussions on which expert arguments would intersect, even though that there are experts who come out with sound analyzes.

Therefore, we are pleased with the Government’s announcement that this issue will be thoroughly analyzed through a multisectoral approach, but this should include civic society in order to have a serious and not a simulated dialogue within this working group. For this reason, CCE calls on the Government of Montenegro, when forming the planned Working Group, to enable formal and substantial inclusion of representative representatives of the civil sector, and to be open to critical views, contributions and expertise of this sector. Only in this way, the process of producing this analysis can be transparent, inclusive and credible.

Additionally, the CCE appreciates that the Open Balkans initiative must be approached exclusively by the public and state interests of Montenegro, and this implies a systematic, responsible, open and dialogical process in which arguments are seriously analyzed. Warnings that this initiative could have a dangerous potential to turn or slow down Montenegro in the EU accession process must not be quickly dismissed by the Government as it could have far-reaching implications.

The CCE hopes that the Government of Montenegro will accept this public appeal and, as soon as possible, in accordance with positive regulations, issue an invitation for the participation of civic society representatives, and then that the working group will start working when this election is over. We believe that quality before speed, an inclusive process, as well as demonstrating the Government’s sincere commitment and good intentions to reach a solution that will strengthen and not burden our European perspective are important.

Milica Zindović, Programe associate