The EU has expressed its appreciation to Montenegro for the stabilising role it has played in the Western Balkans.
During a two-day visit by Podgorica’s chief diplomat Milan Rocen, the Spanish EU presidency expressed hopes that Montenegro’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement will come into force at the Stabilisation and Association Council meeting this June.
“The EU sees Montenegro as a stabilising factor in the region,” Spain’s state Secretary Angel Losada said.
Rocen, who led the Podgorica delegation, emphasized that his country achieved a lot of progress “only four years after renewing its statehood”.
“What we learned is that at the end, everything depends on us and there are no shortcuts”, Rocen said. “We are not obsessed with deadlines but with obligations and duties,” he added.
Michael Leigh, director-general for enlargement from the European Commission confirmed that the work of evaluating whether the country is ready to become and EU candidate is ongoing.
Montenegro submitted its application for EU membership in December 2008. Last October, the European Commission confirmed that it would come up with the evaluation by autumn 2010. According to the procedure, once the Commission publishes its expert opinion, it is up to member states to decide if they will grant candidacy status.
Leigh welcomed Montenegro commitment to reform process, but asked for additional efforts to be made in justice, the fight against organised crime and corruption.
“We want to make sure that our opinion will be fair,” Leigh said. He confirmed that Podgorica officials have done a good job in replying to the Commission’s questionnaire and said experts are now working on analyzing the responses that they received from the Montenegrin capital.