European Western Balkans

PM Marković: We expect Europe not to slow down the enlargement process

Duško Marković; Photo: CdM

SARAJEVO – This meeting confirms that Western Balkan strategic path – EU membership – has no alternative and that in economic terms it means lifting the region from European periphery, Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković underlined addressing the meeting of prime ministers of the Western Balkan countries in Sarajevo, the Government of Montenegro reports.

The Prime Minister also noted that Montenegro is absolutely committed to regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations, both through further development of bilateral cooperation and participation in regional initiatives, such as the Berlin Process, PM Marković stressed, commending the efforts and progress achieved by the neighbours on their European path.

Given the global political developments, characterised by the conflict between globalisation and isolationism, and the trends of slowing down the world’s economies, it is significant to recall the Final Declaration of the Summit in Berlin, reading that it was the EU enlargement policy that played a vital role in making significant achievements in the region in the fields of stability, good-neighbourly relations, modernisation of administration and the overall socio-economic development.

“Even iv very tough times for the EU, faith in the European future remains strongly present in all the countries of the Western Balkans,“ the Prime Minister concluded.

Montenegrin Government is concentrated on boosting economic growth through strengthening fiscal, financial stability and competitiveness, PM Marković pointed out. In order to improve competitiveness and fulfil the commitments under the Berlin Process, through the connectivity agenda, Montenegro has made an important step forward in the fields of energy and transport. He in particular referred to the construction of the undersea energy cable between Montenegro and Italy.

“The project, formally established to be of common interest to EU member states, has evolved into a Trans-Balkan corridor, which today represents the backbone of the agenda in the field of energy, bringing concrete financial benefits to regional partners,“ he said.

When it comes to the upcoming summit in Trieste, the Prime Minister noted that Montenegro is very interested in the project submitted under the second call in late December 2016, referring to a very challenging negotiating chapter – environment.

“Therefore, we appeal to extend the possibilities of financing this unique part of the list of the Western Balkan Investment Framework,“ he stressed.

According to Prime Minister Marković, Montenegro has also made a contribution to upgrading regional economic integration through the ongoing negotiations on the two additional CEFTA protocols concerning the simplification of transit and trade through regional integration of border services into a single information system and further liberalisation of trade in services in the region.

He also noted that Montenegro pays attention to youth cooperation, adding that the Local Office for Youth Cooperation will be set up in May. He also welcomed the launching of the EU youth programme for state officials aimed at enhancing their know-how and forging closer contacts with colleagues from the region.

Montenegro’s Prime Minister underscored that the EU perspective of the Western Balkans “stuck” to a certain extent in terms of administrative, or formalistic approach to the enlargement process.

“Sometimes I get the impression that the opinion that the enlargement process will take place, albeit slowly and routinely, prevails, despite turbulences in the EU and strong influence of the so-called third parties in the Western Balkans, and finally, despite the strengthening of anti-European forces in our region,“ PM Marković underscored.

However, only the full commitment of the EU and the Western Balkan leaders’ steadfastly keeping of the European course will lead the region towards the achievement of common goals, he emphasised.

“We expect Europe, despite all the challenges, to boost its presence in the region and not to slow down the enlargement process due to formal, bureaucratic or any other reasons, but to promote the quality of the work done by each state in the negotiating process, thus keeping its doors open for the Western Balkans,” the Prime Minister stated in Sarajevo.

He concluding by saying that the Government of Montenegro is committed to cooperation in all major development projects within the Western Balkan sextet, safe in the knowledge that the upcoming meeting in Trieste will further enhance the results achieved to date.

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