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EU Ambassador’s Remarks at the School of Democratic Leadership in Podgorica

PODGORICA – EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, opened School of Democratic Leadership, organised by NGO Civic Alliance this Friday. Ambassador Orav’s remarks on “Challenges of Montenegro’s EU path”, delivered before young politicians and journalists, participants of this school, and published on the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro in it’s entirety is available below.

“Every country needs well-educated and responsible politicians and journalists who understand the importance of their role in a democracy. Politicians are there to offer solutions for improving the lives of citizens, for channelling their needs and requests to the authorities and to represent their voice in democratic institutions. Journalists, on the other hand, are there to inform people, to hold politicians accountable and to help citizens in making their voice heard.

I am therefore particularly pleased to speak before you – young and successful professionals – who will experience concrete changes as your careers advance in parallel with Montenegro’s EU negotiations.

Your country has embarked on a highly demanding path of EU integration. This is a path of difficult, yet rewarding reforms. They require significant resources and knowledge, as well as full political commitment and determination to confront the challenges ahead.

The commitment is clearly there. It is particularly encouraging that all your respective political parties and media outlets, despite the differences, all agree that the future of Montenegro is in the European Union. I would even dare saying that the European integration serves as the connecting tissue between different parts of the society. It brings Montenegro together and that is something you should be proud of.

But the commitment is just the first step. Since Montenegro opened its accession negotiations with the EU in June 2012, it has come a long way. A total of 26 negotiating chapters have been opened. Two of them have been provisionally closed. Legislative and institutional reforms in many important areas are well underway. Yet, there is more to be done.

As you know, the change in the approach to accession negotiations has put a great emphasis on the progress that is expected in the area of rule of law, notably achieving a credible track-record in the area of protection and promotion of fundamental rights and the fight against corruption and organised crime. Strong, independent and de-politicised institutions; judicial system that delivers justice equally to all citizens; quality education and healthcare systems; clean environment and effective protection of everyone’s human rights… This is what reforms on the EU integration path are expected to bring to Montenegrin citizens.

But that is not all. Many areas of the EU integration process require special skills and considerable financial resources. Our commitment here is unequivocal – the EU is the largest investor in Montenegro. Through our funds we have provided 235 million euros from 2007 to 2013 and we have allocated over 270 million euros until 2020 to support you on this challenging journey. We also provide technical and expert advice. Our latest Report on Montenegro provides a very detailed road map – if you follow it carefully, it can serve as a compass for reforms that will result in concrete benefits for your citizens.

However, in order to hold, any change must be genuine and come from within. This also means that, for the reform process to be successful, Montenegro as a whole needs to be able to rely on the knowledge and skills that the younger generations of politicians and journalists in this country have to offer.

Montenegro needs to be able to rely on you, the leaders of tomorrow, who bear the responsibility of contributing to the transformation of your society in which the rule of law will be firmly embedded and in which fundamental rights of every human being will be fully protected.

The road ahead will not be an easy one. But I wish to assure you that the European Union will continue to be a reliable partner to Montenegro on this demanding road.”

(Origina transcript available at: http://www.delmne.ec.europa.eu/code/navigate.php?Id=3798)

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