In an interview with the Danish Politiken daily, justice minister Zoran Pažin claims Montenegro will join the European Union (EU) by 2025. “As an independent country which is implementing European reforms, we have doubled salaries and pensions in our country, introduced visa liberalisation, our students and scientists have access to best European scientific and educational programs, whereas our farmers get significant assistance from EU funds. We are aligning our legislation in compliance with the topmost European standards,” said minister Pažin.
“We’re the leaders in the accession process as we have opened 30 out of 33 negotiating chapters and temporarily closed 3 of them. This year we hope to open the remaining chapters and commit to the final phase of negotiating process,” said Pažin.
He also noted that it’s crucial the Western Balkan countries to recognize and use Europe’s positive position, to implement thorough reforms and adopt European standards and values.
“At the moment when any regional country becomes ready for membership and I believe MNE will be the first one, I’m sure the EU member state will show their commitment to the enlargement policy, as it represents core idea of united Europe,” claims justice minister.
Commenting on the warning of the European Commission’s chief Jean-Claude Juncker that war could return to the Balkan countries, Pažin said he totally disagreed with this statement.
“It’s true that there are some pro-Russian political forces in Montenegro, although Moscow strongly denies meddling into our internal political affairs. By developing democratic institutions and carrying out improvements in European integrations, the countries of region boost their resistance to such inappropriate foreign influences. This is why a credible European perspective of the whole region is of utmost importance to their stability, and stability of Europe as well,” he explained.
When asked about organized crime and corruption in Montenegro, Pažin told our country is aware these issues represent key requirement of every social and economic development. “This is why we opened new institutions for fighting organized crime and corruption, apart from our traditional institutions dealing with law enforcement. Based on the EC assessments, Montenegro has been achieving continuous progress in this area. Fighting organized crime and corruption will be a priority for our European agenda, thus sending a strong message – crime and disorder will be effectively prevented.
Regarding claims that for years, Montenegro has been riven by gang violence linked to lucrative drugs and cigarette smuggling, Pažin commented: “Montenegro is a pluralistic society in which decisions are being made in democratic institutions. We have functional market industry, which has been one of the fastest growing in Europe. Investors from 90 countries invest in Montenegro which proofs their trust in favourable business environment. Citizens’ money is used in a responsible and transparent way. We represent a society in which the ruling parties are elected in elections monitored by international institutions,” added Pažin.
He assured the Danish Politiken daily that Montenegro won’t be a source of lawlessness within the EU. “The last thing we want is to be the EU member state, unwilling to fulfil obligations and contribute to the EU states. That’s why we can’t ask Europe to ignore our issues and shortcomings,” concluded justice minister, Zoran Pažin.