Scholz: Montenegro is an important stability factor in the Balkans

Podgorica, (MINA) – Montenegro is an important stability factor in the Balkans and it is high time to become an EU member state, said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Speaking at the press conference with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milojko Spajic during Spajic’s visit to Germany, he said that Montenegro’s commitment to reforms is important.

“It’s high time for membership to be achieved, given that the promise of membership was made over 20 years ago”, said Scholz.

According to him, Montenegro’s prospects are excellent, and no other country in the region is carrying out such reforms.

Scholz emphasized Germany’s commitment to the development of regional cooperation in the Western Balkans, highlighting the significance of the Berlin process and stating that it serves as the engine of regional cooperation.

Scholz stated that Montenegro is an important factor for stability in the Western Balkans, promoting good neighborly relations with the countries of the region and building bridges.

“We aim to offer support in building these bridges”, Scholz emphasized, highlighting the importance of maintaining peace in the region.

He also emphasized the consequences of the aggression in Ukraine, indicating Montenegro’s clear position regarding EU’s common policy towards Ukraine.

Spajic said that Montenegro sees in Germany a strategic partner on its EU path and the path of improving the rule of law, adding that it is important for Montenegro to obtain the Interim Benchmark Assessment Report (IBAR) in June.

“It’s crucial that we will be given the opportunity to join the common market. The EU accession for Montenegro is not only a matter of values, but the shared market is also of great importance to us”, said Spajic.

He emphasized that Montenegro is a front-runner in the Berlin process, as well as in the EU integration.

Spajic said that the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans is of great importance to Montenegro, since, as he said, it will be able to join a big market.

Spajic stated that all the coalition partners in the government are truly committed to the European path and not by paying a lip service, underscoring that over 80 per cent of citizens supports Montenegro’s EU accession.

He emphasized that Montenegro’s policy is fully aligned with the EU.

“We have already introduced sanctions against Russia and we closely follow the EU policy in that regard. It’s crucial that we are looking towards Brussels and that we are approaching the EU in terms of economy”, said Spajic.

When asked about Russian influence, Spajic remarked that it “goes hand in hand with a sense of being under threat”.

“I believe that the census that we conducted back in December last year in an inclusive manner is of extreme importance. Montenegro is a country of Montenegrins, but also of Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks. It’s a country where diversity used to be a problem, and now it is an advantage”, said Spajic, adding that by overcoming divisions, Montenegro marginalized Russian influence.

He remarked that, thanks to the media laws currently being drafted, it will become clear who truly finances and owns media outlets.

Spajic added that, in collaboration with US partners, Montenegro is working on the Edge program, which will enable registration of the system of companies and provide a full picture of those behind them.

“This will help us in confiscating illegal assets, terrorist financing, but also in situations where the real owners are some of the sanctioned individuals from Russia or any country sanctioned by the EU”, said Spajic.

He stated that they are cooperating with Italy on tax system reform, adding that it will help them trace money flows, especially concerning sanctioned individuals from Russia and other countries on the EU list.