EC Non-Paper for Montenegro: The country has to work on media freedom

Montenegro continues to negotiate about the Chapters 23 and 24 with the European Commission

PODGORICA –  A non-paper by the European Commission, presented last week in Podgorica as a part of Montenegro’s progress report on Chapters 23 and 24, concludes that even though Montenegro has been making “continuous progress in terms of legal reforms and institution building”, the country still has to work on promoting media freedom in the future.

“The lack of effective self-regulatory mechanisms, as well as professional and ethical standards, creates a climate in which freedom of speech can be compromised,” assessed the EU Ambassador to Montenegro Aivo Orav, adding that Montenegro must ensure editorial independence in public service, and that it protects it from political pressure.

These concerns, according to Orav, remain largely due to the lack of effective self-regulation mechanisms and professional and ethical standards for media which still creates a climate where the freedom of expression can be abused.

Orav noted that Montenegro has made improvements in fighting against organised crime. “This is partly due to strengthened police cooperation with EU member state” said Orav, adding that the Montenegrin police participated in a number of high-profile international police operations that led to the arrest of the members of crime groups and very substantial drugs seizures.

Chief Negotiator for the EU accession of Montenegro Aleksandar Drljević stated today that his country is aware of its shortcomings and that the findings from the non-paper are not a surprise.

“This is a signal that Montenegro remains in focus of the EU and that our progress is being monitored. The demands are getting stricter and the necessary reforms are getting deeper and more concrete”, said Drljević at the presentation of the non-paper.

The negotiator for Chapters 23 and 24, Marijana Laković, stressed that the establishment of direct cooperation with Eurojust had contributed to the effective treatment of criminal cases with an international element and that the latest actions by the Police Directorate. Laković pointed out that, within this framework, Montenegro has also established good cooperation with Europol,Interpol and EU member states.

The negotiations regarding Chapters 23 and 24 with Montenegro have been open since December 2013.