Montenegro has made solid progress towards European Union membership and buttresses regional stability. Yet it must do more to protect media freedom, women’s rights and gender equality, members of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee said, voting on its 2012 progress report on January 22 2013.
EU accession talks with Montenegro began on 29 June 2012.
The committee commends Montenegro on the peaceful, free and fair conduct of parliamentary elections in October 2012, which gave the country’s political leadership a fresh mandate to EU pursue accession aims, a European Parliament statement said.
It also welcomes the strengthening of the Montenegrin parliament’s oversight role and praise the country for maintaining macroeconomic and financial stability.
Montenegro’s progress sends a positive signal to other countries in the region, MEPs said in the resolution drafted by Charles Tannock (ECR, UK) and passed by 50 votes to one, with one abstention.
MEPs welcomed the EU’s new negotiating stance which seeks to strengthen the rule of law by tackling fundamental freedoms, judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime early in the talks. Montenegro is the first candidate country to which this approach has been applied.
The committee urged the Montenegrin parliament to underpin the judiciary’s legal independence, integrity and accountability, and the country as a whole to step up the fight against corruption and the informal economy.
MEPs voiced concern about police investigations of violent attacks against Montenegrin media representatives that have not resulted in any final verdict. They emphasised that safeguarding media freedom is a core EU principle and urge the Montenegrin authorities to enforce justice for the victims and ensure that the media are free from political interference. Montenegro’s media environment is divided along political lines, MEPs said.
Montenegro must also do more to strengthen women’s rights and gender equality, not least by campaigning against domestic violence against women, members of the European Parliament said.
Women are under-represented in Montenegro’s parliament and top decision-making positions, noted the text.
The resolution is to be put to a vote by the whole House at the March 11 to 14 2013 plenary session in Strasbourg.
(Photo: Millennium Bridge: mazbln)