European Western Balkans

Picula: Disagreements on the Law on Religious Freedom must be resolved by dialogue

Tonino Picula; Photo: European Parliament

PODGORICA – The situation regarding the Law on Religious Freedom must be resolved by an agreement because any further polarization of society can only harm some other processes within the country, said Tonino Picula, European Parliament Rapporteur for Montenegro.

“In politics, the dialogue is a basic instrument. It seems to me, without wanting to go into details in relations on the Montenegrin scene, that this law was enacted in a very polarized social and political atmosphere. The question now is how to make a dialogue about the law and its implementation possible”, Picula said.

He added that more responsibility should be sought from those with an interest in resolving the issue, because the agreement has no alternative.

Picula stressed that there will be no solution to this problem without a serious agreement, primarily within Montenegro, but also without reduction of tensions in the Montenegrin neighbourhood.

Asked if the attempt to burn the Montenegrin flag down is in a manner of good neighbourly relations combined with the harsh rhetoric of Belgrade, Picula answered that it did not contribute to the two countries’ European path.

“That primarily discredits efforts of us, Members of the EP, who are indeed strongly in favour of enlargement policy. Because advocating for countries that can’t find a way to solve their open problems at the table, patiently no matter how long it takes, are not doing themselves or their neighbours a favour”, Picula said.

EP Rapporteur for Montenegro said that he regrets the failed attempt to improve electoral legislation by agreeing within Parliament and the Parliamentary Committee on Comprehensive reform.

“It is hard to say whether the law will be changed, but if we follow the good practice, then electoral laws are difficult to change in the election year. Election year is a time when the previously agreed model is applied”, Picula said adding that he would not like the election law to be an insurmountable obstacle in the elections that await Montenegro this year.

According to Picula, this year’s elections are not ordinary, it is possible that these elections decide on a structure that may introduce Montenegro to the EU.

“Accountability is needed first and foremost in politics because it is difficult to claim accountability from citizens unless you actually show responsibility by refining key document and laws”, Picula said.

He pointed out that if elections are held under existing legislation, the view of the international community on this will depend on the behaviour of the election candidates.

After meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament of Montenegro, Picula said that Montenegro, but also all the countries of the region have a strong partner in the European Parliament, as well as President Sasoli, who insists that the EU enlargement process continues.

He concluded that the European Parliament expects that the new approach to the negotiation process will be stable, predictable, credible and will not depend on the international issues of the Member States.

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