Orav: I don’t believe EU will activate balance clause

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foto: MINA

Podgorica, (MINA) – Head of the EU Delegation in Podgorica Aivo Orav has stated that he does not believe that the balance clause will be activated when it comes to Montenegro adding that it is the final course of action that the EU can resort to at a certain moment.

Orav presented on Tuesday the European Commission’s Non-Paper on the state of play in chapters 23 and 24 in Montenegro.

According to him, the document notes Montenegro’s continued progress in legislative reform and building of institutions, along with the initial track record in the areas of fight against high-level corruption, organized crime, money laundering and temporary confiscation of assets, with limited results in some other areas.

He said that the document offers a nuanced picture.

“The fight against organized crime is showing better results than in previous years, partly due to the strengthening of police cooperation with the EU Member States. The Montenegrin police took part in a number of high-profile international police operations, which resulted in arrests of members of crime groups and seizures of significant amounts of drugs,” Orav noted.

The EU official underlined that the judicial reform has produced certain results, some results, such as the organisation of national competitions and regular assessment of prosecutors and judges, but challenges remain, particularly related to efficiency, rationalisation, implementation of the ICT strategy, and enforcement of disciplinary and ethical standards for judges and prosecutors.

“There are still concerns with regard to the state of media freedom. There were four attacks on journalists this year and the most serious was the attack on Vijesti journalist Olivera Lakic, whose perpetrators still remain unidentified,” Orav said.

He stressed that it will be important for Montenegro to offer, in the coming period, convincing results, especially in the areas of concern.

Montenegro’s negotiator for chapters 23 and 24 Marijana Lakovic remarked that the EU has recognized all the efforts made by the authortieis in order to improve the rule of law and security of citizens.

“When it comes to prevention of corruption, the efforts of the Anti-Corruption Agency have been recognized. On the basis of the Agency’s reports, 53 public officials resigned this year, 16 more than last year,” Lakovic said.

She also said that the European Commission took note of the latest operations made by the Montenegrin police, through their cooperation with Europol and Interpol, which produced visible results in the fight against organized crime, arrests of members of crime groups and significant drug seizures.

Asked to explain the procedure with regard to the extradition of Svetozar Marovic, Lakovic said that the Serbian police needs to make the arrest and inform the Montenegrin police, before the Ministry of Justice can take action in accordance with the rule of international legal aid.

“Until that happens our hands are tied. The Ministry of Justice has no authority whatsoever in the Marovic case,” she explained.

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