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Montenegro: co-rapporteurs call on all parties to return to Parliament in order to ensure continuation of reforms

At the end of their fact-finding visit (2-4 October 2017), the co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for post-monitoring dialogue with Montenegro, Ionut Marian Stroe (Romania, EPP/CD) and Andrea Rigoni (Italy, ALDE), have welcomed Montenegro’s continued commitment to regional co-operation and its constructive role in maintaining regional stability.

“We are concerned by the on-going boycott of Parliament by the opposition, which hinders the continuation of reforms,” the co-rapporteurs stated. “We had discussions with representatives of those opposition parties, who agreed to meet with us, and we insisted that political dialogue in Parliament is crucial for the transformation of Montenegro.” They added that a parliamentary boycott is not the European way of dealing with disagreements. “It is essential that both the majority and the opposition engage in the reform process, including with regard to the electoral framework ahead of the 2018 Presidential elections,” they insisted.

The co-rapporteurs welcomed the country's reform efforts in the area of the rule of law. “While progress has been achieved in legislative reform and institution-building, it is essential that the reforms with regard to the rule of law system deliver more concrete results. The institutions must implement these reforms in the spirit in which they have been made. Full implementation of the legislation guaranteeing the genuine independence and professionalism of the judiciary is crucial,” they said.

They welcomed the strong priority given to the fight against corruption and organised crime. “In that respect, the impartiality and independence of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption should be guaranteed in practice, and it must be given the necessary means to carry out its mission efficiently. In addition, the capacities of the Special Prosecutor’s office should be strengthened to allow the institution, and its Special Police Unit, to deal with the high number of cases under its competence.” The co-rapporteurs also expressed their continuing concerned regarding the state of freedom of expression and freedom of the media in the country, which had seen little progress since their last visit.

In Podgorica, the co-rapporteurs met with the President of the Republic, the Speaker of Parliament, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, the Montenegrin delegation to PACE, and the leaders of some of the political factions in Parliament. They also met with the Chief Special Prosecutor, representatives of the judiciary and of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption. They had discussions with representatives of other international organisations, and NGOs.

The co-rapporteurs will report to the Monitoring Committee at a forthcoming meeting. They will then prepare a full report on the post-monitoring dialogue in 2018.