On Wednesday, April 12, the first in a series of BSC Leaders Meetings was held in Podgorica, under the title “Montenegro after the presidential elections: Fast forward towards the EU?”, organised by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and the Institute Alternative.
Jakov Milatović, President-elect of Montenegro, Dritan Abazović, Prime Minister of Montenegro, Rosa Balfour, director of Carnegie Europe, Milena Muk, researcher at the Institute Alternative, dr Srđan Cvijić, president of the International Advisory Committee of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and Igor Bandović, director of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, took part in the public panel discussion.
Igor Bandović, who opened the BSC Leaders Meetings event, expressed in the opening remarks his great pleasure to organise the first event of this kind in Podgorica. “The Belgrade Security Conference aims to be a window to the world for the entire region of the Western Balkans and a promoter of positive changes in the Balkans. Relying on the experience of our partners from Munich, we decided to organise Leaders Meetings events throughout the countries of the Western Balkans and thus initiate the creation of a new political culture, a new style of debates and new content to promote.”
The main topics of the panel discussion, organised in the aftermath of the presidential elections, were the possible scenarios of Montenegro’s accession to the European Union, the main obstacles and opportunities, as well as the EU’s political capacity to receive new members and Montenegro’s ability to reform.
On that occasion, the newly elected President of Montenegro, Jakov Milatović, said that the new generation of politicians is a symbol of changes in the country and that the main priorities of Montenegro should be the fight against state capture and economic stability. “Regional economic integration is the basis of European integration. The success of one Western Balkan country is the success of all six of them,” Milatović pointed out.
At the first BSC Leaders Meetings event, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazović, said that for Montenegro, there is no other choice but EU integration. “By joining the EU, Montenegro will fulfil its national interests, which is the reason why it will remain committed to the process of European integration.” Referring to the war in Ukraine, Abazović said: “Considering the size, population and capacities of Montenegro, support for Ukraine is more than significant, and citizens of Ukraine feel safe in Montenegro.”
Rosa Balfour, director of Carnegie Europe, pointed out that the enlargement process has become more complex. “The importance of the rule of law, civil society and political leaders who send strong messages at home are considered crucial to the process of European integration.”
On behalf of the Institute Alternative, Milena Muk stated that the previous Montenegrin governments did not meet high expectations and did not achieve sufficient progress in reforms. “Montenegro currently does not have a single institution at full capacity, but in the so-called acting condition. Responding to Srđan Cvijić’s question about the main priorities of the future government, Milena Muk highlighted the reforms and the fulfillment of temporary criteria within Chapter 23. – “I think it is positive that the European Union has become more clear and more direct in conditioning key reforms in the country, and it should persist in that approach. We see that individual islands of integrity are being created, primarily in the Special State Prosecutor’s Office, and it is up to us to demand multiplying of these islands.”
The BSC Leaders Meetings events, with the distinguished panel of international and domestic speakers, are planned to continue in the coming months in other capitals of the Western Balkans.
Belgrade Centre for Security Policy