Von der Leyen: Montenegro made greater progress towards EU membership

NEWS 29.09.2021 17:50
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Ursula fon der Lajen
Source: Tanjug / AP, Francisco Seco

The President of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that Montenegro had made the most progress towards the European Union full membership.

She added the message was clear – the EU wanted Montenegro as a part of that community.

At a joint news conference with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, Von der Leyen said the Brussels cooperation with Podgorica was friendly and in partnership and that the fight against the coronavirus and economic recovery was especially important, Montenegro’s RTV reported.

Von der Leyen is touring the Western Balkans ahead of the region’s summit with the EU on Slovenia on October 6.

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Adding that the EU was with Montenegro during the pandemic, Von der Leyen said that she was „impressed by the intensive work to go through challenging times successfully.“

She told reporters the political dialogue in Montenegro was needed to advance in the rule of law and that divisions should be overcome so the country would remain a multiethnic and multi-religious country.

Von der Leyen praised  Montenegro as the first country in the region to legalise same-sex partnerships, thus showing „commitment to respecting the diversity.“

Asked whether the ‘Open Balkan’ project was a substitute for enlargement and whether Montenegro should be part of the project, she said that Podgorica was not forced to do anything.

She reiterated the Berlin Process was „here, and that is the most important thing,“ because that process provided a framework to develop a common regional market.

Djukanovic said he firmly believed in the vision of a united Europe and that it was in Europe’s interest.

He added the Europeans were interested in Europe being competitive, and to be competitive, it should be stable and united.

„This is not the best phase for the vision of a united Europe“, he said, adding he believed in „the persistence of that vision“.

According to him, the EU „must politically more clearly promote the idea of a united Europe.“

Djukanovic said he was „firmly determined“ to keep Montenegro on the path to adopting a European system of values, European quality of life and EU membership.

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