Montenegro's new government pledges to speed up reforms needed for EU accession
Montenegro’s parliament elected a new government led by Prime Minister Milojko Spajic on October 31, after a debate that lasted all night and ended less than two hours before a planned meeting between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the country’s political leadership.
Speaking to von der Leyen early on October 31, Spajic said the new government will work to close the most important EU accession chapters and speed up the necessary reforms. Montenegro is the most advanced of the Western Balkans states towards EU accession, but progress has recently been stalled by political instability in the country.
Spajic’s government has three deputy prime ministers who also hold ministerial seats, as well as two deputy prime ministers who will not have ministerial seats but will be in charge of specific policies. There are also 17 ministers, making this one of the largest governments in the tiny Adriatic state.
46 out of 81 MPs backed the election of Spajic’s government, while 19 voted against and one abstained. The remaining opposition MPs did not participate in the vote.
During his speech to the parliament, Spajic said that the Europe Now 2.0 programme will be implemented as promised. Spajic’s Europe Now (PES) party was established by him and President Jakov Milatovic, and was named after the Europe Now programme they created while serving as ministers of finance and economy respectively in the government of Zdravko Krivokapic. The programme envisaged a set of reforms and significant increase in income.
Meanwhile, hundreds gathered in front of the parliament building to protest the election of nationalist politician Andrija Mandic as parliament speaker. Mandic, co-leader of the For the Future of Montenegro (ZBCG) formation, which became part of the ruling coalition, has been known for his anti-Nato and pro-Russian aspirations. However, ZBCG has signed a document obliging it to follow Montenegro’s pro-Western foreign policy as condition to join the ruling coalition.
Spajic meets von der Leyen
After taking office at 8.30, Spajic had a meeting with von der Leyen at 10.
“Montenegro has a pro-European government and a stable political majority that would contribute to closure of the most important negotiations chapters and speed up the necessary reforms in all areas,” Spajic said during that meeting as quoted in a statement on the government’s website.
Montenegro should urgently complete the process of appointments in the judiciary, strengthen the freedom of media and the fight against corruption and organised crime, the statement noted.
Meanwhile, von der Leyen met Milatovic and said the country could join the EU before 2030 if it fulfills all conditions, according to Milatovic.
“Montenegro has been for a long time the most advanced Western Balkan country on the EU accession path. And I am happy to see that you are determined to keep the pole position. Congratulations also on your 100% alignment with the CFSP, so the foreign and security policies of the European Union. You are a valued member of Nato, without any question. So we discussed many positive topics,” von der Leyen said as quoted in a statement on the European Commission’s website.
She added that enlargement of the EU was among the European Commission’s top priorities.
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