The Center for Democracy and Human Rights, with the support of the Embassy of Italy in Montenegro, organized a panel discussion entitled EU INTEGRATION – Back on track?. The panel is part of the project Vox populi – It concerns all of us, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy. It took place on November 21 in Podgorica at the Hilton Hotel.
Montenegro faces continuous challenges in democratic processes, and therefore in EU integration. The focus of the discussion was on the EU negotiations, specifically on chapters 23 and 24, establishing it as a priority of the country, but also on the overall political environment, especially the dynamics of political reforms, governance and the rule of law, which are of key importance for the European aspirations of Montenegro. The panel addressed the perspectives of regional cooperation and the impact of Montenegro’s EU integration on neighboring countries.
The panel discussion was opened by the Ambassador of Italy in Montenegro Andreana Marsella and the Ambassador of the EU Oana Kristina Popa.
The Ambassador of Italy to Montenegro, Andreana Marcela, said that the EU expansion to the Western Balkans has always been a priority in Italy’s foreign policy. Brutal Russian aggression, she said, pointed to the geopolitical importance of EU enlargement. Marcela stated that the political vision of Italy has never changed, despite the frequent changes in the governments of that country. As she stated, Montenegro has been involved in the complex accession process for years and is still a leader, although in the last few years the process has slowed down significantly due to the political crisis, and she expressed the hope that the recently formed 44th Government will take on European obligations with renewed determination and without any delay or hesitation. In her opening address, she emphasized that the citizens of Montenegro want to be part of the European Union as soon as possible.
EU Ambassador to Montenegro Oana Kristina Popa also pointed out that this Government should be a turning point when it comes to the accession process, and that the joint work of the Government and the Parliament is necessary. At the same time, she emphasized that the rule of law and human rights remain at the core of the accession process and the reform agenda. Popa said that the potential for growth is great, but that much depends on internal work on reforms. She said that the relations that the country is building with each other and with the EU should show maturity and readiness for joining, with a clear perspective that it will actually come true, because the EU is ready.
In the first panel, Political dialogue as a prerequisite for the continuation of the integration process, the following participated: Boris Mugoša, member of the Parliament of Montenegro (Social Democrats of Montenegro), Bojan Božović, M.Sc., State Secretary of the Government of Montenegro, Ministry of European Affairs and prof. Dr. Gordana Đurović, President of the Montenegrin Pan-European Union. The panel was moderated by Milena Bešić, director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights.
In the second panel, Overcoming challenges in the regional context of the Western Balkans, the following participated: Snežana Radović, Acting Ambassador general director for the European Union in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Montenegro, Miloš Konatar, member of the Parliament of Montenegro (Civil Movement URA) and Ana Nenezić, executive director of the Institute for Socio-Political Research Analitico.