At the beginning of next year, the European Union may consider suspending the negotiation process with Montenegro if the country fails to create functioning institutions, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia Tanja Fajon, quoted by the Montenegrin agency MINA.
At a joint press conference with her Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg yesterday in Podgorica, she said that Montenegro risks losing the trust of the European Union. Fajon pointed out that the two had come to the Montenegrin capital as EU mediators on behalf of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
“If Montenegro fails to create functioning institutions, Brussels may consider suspending the entire EU accession process,” Fajon pointed out.
She also said that if Montenegro forms its new government based on the amended law on the president, the EU will question its cooperation with this government “created on the basis of a controversial law”. Fajon also stressed the need to urgently set up a Constitutional Court.
“We expect this Friday that the procedure for appointing judges will be launched and that it will be completed by the end of January”, Fajon said.
The Slovenian foreign minister emphasized that Montenegro has the full support of the EU, that it has made the most progress in accession negotiations, but recent events in the country have caused an institutional crisis and a delay in negotiations with the EU.
When asked what the outcome of the situation was, she said that any decision must be reached in agreement between the political partners.
Schallenberg noted that Montenegro has made the most progress in the negotiation process and that it is a role model for the region.
“Now things look a little different. We’re seeing increasing polarization in the population and the political landscape. We’re seeing a virtual standstill on many key issues of reform in this country. This is not a bilateral visit by two friends. This is not a pleasant trip. This is not a visit for entertainment. This is a visit accompanied with a clear warning, but also a clear encouragement, as a message from the European Union,” he said.
Montenegro has been in political crisis since August, when Dritan Abazovic’s cabinet fell after he signed an agreement tying the state’s relationship with the Serbian Orthodox Church.
A new ruling majority was formed, led by the pro-Serbian Democratic Front, with the support of Abazovic, who nominated Miodrag Lekic, a diplomat from the Slobodan Milosevic era, as prime ministerial candidate, Hina recalled.
President Milo Dukanovic refused to give a mandate to form a government to Lekic on the grounds that he was not convinced that parliament would support him.
In response, the ruling majority passed a new law on the president’s powers, which limits them and forces Dukanovic to give the mandate to a candidate who has the clear support of most MPs in parliament.
The law was deemed unconstitutional by the Venice Commission and foreign diplomats.
The crisis has been exacerbated by the non-functioning Constitutional Court, as MPs have been unable to agree on the selection of new judges for months.
Opposition supporters hold mass protests every week, demanding the withdrawal of the law on the president and the calling of early parliamentary elections. The protests are supported by President Dukanovic, novinite.com reports.