BRUSSELS – The situation in the area of freedom and independence of the media in Montenegro is worrying, and it must be improved, said the Rapporteur of the European Parliament for Montenegro, Tonino Picula (S&D).
In an interview with the MINA news agency, he said that during the preparation of the Report on the progress of Montenegro, the European Parliament tried to give a balanced assessment of the situation in the country.
Picula reminded that, in the area of freedom of expression, there has been no progress in the last five reports of the European Commission.
He said that, following the situation in the judiciary, prosecutor’s office and public administration, they gained a real impression of limited progress.
Asked what should be the focus of the Government, when it comes to the recently announced changes to the laws on prosecution, he said that if the proposed amendments had not been withdrawn, they would have been considered as backsliding.
“The current Law on the State Prosecutor’s Office is in line with European standards, and any staffing that is being attempted by adopting a new Law on the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime and Corruption, which would not be in line with European standards, would send the wrong message”, Picula said.
He welcomed the fact that the Montenegrin government requested the opinion of experts from the Venice Commission on the draft law.
Picula said that more than 76 percent of the support for Montenegro’s EU accession and more than 80 percent of the citizens who have a positive attitude towards the EU should be a clear signal of the direction the country should go for every political option.
“First of all, I expect the Government of Montenegro, after a hundred days or so of getting to know the job, to approach the reforms responsibly and systematically,” Picula said.