Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin presented key results of Montenegrin judicial reform at the roundtable “Criminal Justice Reform Top – Achievements, Challenges, and Perspectives”. During the meeting, it was highlighted that the rule of law is an area that gives pace to the overall success of the reforms in Montenegro and there is no doubt that this is the most demanding undertaking of the whole society that is striving for European integration. Pažin stressed that great contribution to the rule of law is given by the courts and judges by consistently affirming the right to a fair and public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within a reasonable time. Moreover, one of the Government’s priorities over the next three years is to develop alternative dispute resolution methods to make justice more accessible to citizens. In order to encourage the European Council to set benchmarks for the final closure of Chapters 23 and 24, which will mark the start of the final phase of the EU accession process, Pažin pointed out that Montenegro must achieve convincing results in the judiciary sector.
Prime Minister Duško Markovic is pleased with the growth in Gross Domestic Product of 4.4 percent in 2017, estimating that the highest rate of growth in the region is an outstanding result of the Government’s economic policy. The Monthly Statistical Review (MONSTAT) released a report including official figures for economic growth in Montenegro for 2017, saying it was 4.4 percent according to preliminary data.
Prime Minister Markovic affirmed that this rate is the is the largest among the EU countries. According to him, the work brought forward by the government, the business community, and the State administration contributed to ensuring this trend. According to Markovic, this growth rate will encourage the development and standard of living of citizens in Montenegro.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Zoran Pažin affirmed that Montenegro is ready to open the remaining three negotiating chapters this year and to fully focus on the fulfillment of conditions for the completion of negotiations in the forthcoming period. Pažin expressed the full readiness of Montenegro to enter into the next, final phase of the negotiation process by obtaining final criteria for closing negotiations in the most demanding negotiating chapters 23 and 24 regarding the rule of law. Deputy Prime Minister Pažin praised Montenegro’s reform efforts and expressed the expectation that the quality and speed of the adoption of European standards and values by Montenegro will continue to make it a model for other countries in the region. In this regard, he stressed that Montenegro remains the region’s leader in the process of European integration.
The European Union’s Border and Migration Control Agency Frontex closely monitors the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but cannot significantly help. In order to be able to provide full-capacity assistance with a non-EU country, according to the new mandate, Frontex needs to have a bilateral agreement, which is at the moment missing with BiH. If an agreement is reached, Frontex has the right to carry out full-capacity executive operations in countries outside the EU, and this would give it the right to launch a mission to the country and send police officers with executive powers. Considering that there is no such agreement, last year BiH authorities agreed to establish two coordinating points: one at the Sarajevo airport and the other at the border crossing Zupca, near Trebinje.
According to the Financial Times, the EU should not “step back” towards the Western Balkans, otherwise Russia and Turkey would “fill the gap”. The fact is that the Balkan countries start to “doubt the EU’s sincerity after waiting at the door for years”. For example, only 26% of Serbs think that the EU accession would be a good achievement, according to the newspaper.
The government has adopted a report on the implementation of the Accession Program for the European Union (EU) for the past year, in which 75% of commitments were met. This result points to the high institutional and administrative efficiency of the state for the fulfillment of European goals. Of the total 413 obligations, as planned in the previous year, 308 and 75% respectively were fulfilled, which is an improvement compared to 2016, when the realization rate was 72%. Prime Minister Duško Markovic assessed that these changes are important because the government for the first time in this area is particularly valorizing projects related to the northern region and the less developed areas, showing a fundamental political determination.
The recent document about the EU’s enlargement strategy apparently does not contain much mention of Kosovo, according to Pristina press. Kosovo is mentioned only in passages concerning the dialogue with Serbia. The article states that this is a “worse position for Kosovo than before”, and the reason is the presence of different positions in the EU (indeed, 5 members do not recognize Kosovo, such as Spain), but also the lack of progress in Kosovo. The documents focus particularly on Serbia and Montenegro which are “planned to join EU in 2025”, but also on Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The EU would accept for six Western Balkans countries to enter the organization, according to Financial Times: Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu strongly condemned an Irish legislative initiative calling for a boycott of products in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. In a statement he stated that the objective of the proposed legislation is to support the BDS movement and those who seek to boycott and damage the State of Israel. The initiative, in addition to prohibiting the import or sale of such products, would also prohibit services from Judea and Samaria. The Irish Senate has decided that the debates on the bill will be officially updated by July, so as to have time to pursue a diplomatic approach and action at EU level, as well as give more time for improvements, amendments and changes to the bill.