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INTERVIEW OF DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FOR EUROPEAN INTEGRATIONS, PROF. DR. GORDANA ĐUROVIĆ FOR EIC BULLETIN

Published date: 27.12.2006 19:26 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FOR EUROPEAN INTEGRATIONS, PROF. DR. GORDANA ĐUROVIĆ

When Montenegro is ready for EUEurope will be ready for us too

We are now done with a lot of work.The technical negotiations on theStabilisation and Association Agreementwere completed on 1 December in theFifth round of technical negotiations. Wehave agreed on and concluded all of the139 articles of the Agreement, all sevenprotocols and seven annexes. The EC haspresented this document to the EUMember States in Brussels on 13December. We are expecting to receivetheir positive answer by mid January, andthe member states have already been fol-lowing our negotiations through all of itsphases, said Deputy PM for EuropeanIntegrations, Prof. Dr. Gordana Đurovićinthe interview for EIC Bulletin.
Except for further requirementsfor the improvement of administrativecapacities in the Directory of Customsand for defining the authority to mon-itor market competition, is there anoth-er reason for why the Agreement hasnot been concluded yet?
Certain commitments must be ful-filled before the Agreement can beconcluded and signed. On the onehand, the European Commission mustget a positive opinion on theAgreement from the Member Statesand among its Directorates, and thereare also a few commitments on ourside, and we are working on themintensively. We have drafted the newLaw on Wine, which was necessary forthe annexes on agriculture; we beganpreparing the establishment of an inde-pendent operative body for the imple-mentation of the competition policyand we adopted the Action plan for thestrengthening of administrative capaci-ties, preparing our institutions for theimplementation of the Agreement. According to the EC Directoratefor Customs and Taxes the chapter oncustoms was not sufficiently defined.We have thus developed a detailedtraining plan for customs officers andexporters, and we forwarded it toBrussels last week. This programme isalready being implemented, with fourseminars conducted throughout the firsthalf of December. We are currently negotiating withthe Centre for European Perspectives ofthe Government of Slovenia to includeSlovenian experts in our training pro-gramme for customs officers in Januaryand February, and the Office of Customshas already applied for a seminar inMarch 2007 through the TAIEX pro-gramme. We are also negotiating furthertrainings with bilateral support of theGovernment of Hungary, also in the firstquarter of the next year. I believe thatwith such detailed plans for the strength-ening of our capacities we can win apositive opinion of EC and a provisionaldate for the conclusion of SAA.
When do you expect this tohappen?
I expect the SAA to be concludedin the first half of February. It is a rea-sonable period, similar to most othercountries which have already compet-ed this phase. As a professional, I stillwish to believe that there are no other,political reasons, to prevent this suc-cessfully negotiated process fromreaching its conclusion.Afterwards, the European Com-mission will have to prepare the opin-ion, and then we wait for the Councilto adopt it and to propose a date forsigning the Agreement. Once signed,the SAA will be forwarded for ratifica-tion to the European Parliament andthe Parliament of Montenegro. This is when we can define whichpart of the Agreement is to come intoforce immediately (the so-called InterimAgreement), while the entire SAA willcome into force only after it is ratifiedby all 27 parliaments of EU MemberStates. According to this scenario, theInterim Agreement could come intoforce at the earliest by July 2007.
Accession to the Partnership forPeace showed that regional approachhas become dominant, and that theprogress of certain countries in theBalkans is not being evaluated on indi-vidual basis, but rather in relation to their neighbours. Do you believe thatthere might be a danger of a similar approach substituting the current"regatta principle" of EU association?
Should there be any unforeseendelays regarding the conclusion of SAAlater than March, it is natural that peo-ple start fearing that there is in factsomething else blocking our way, apartfrom the noted technical issues. So farwe had no reason for such suspicions.All the messages have been affirmative.Last week, for instance, we had the firstinter-parliamentary meeting betweenthe EP Committee and MontenegrinParliament, which was a very importantevent for us. I was there as well, as aGovernment representative, andtogether with our MPs I had to answermore than 30 questions posed by theMPs of EP. Not once did there seem tobe any doubt as to our European road,the dynamics of our progress, possibledelays or, alternatively "favouritism" withrespect to us. All the messages wereextremely respectful and positive. My own message for the EP wasthat I expect this high authority to rat-ify our SAA this spring, and I thought itwas received very positively. As a newstate on the map of Europe, we areasking no more and no less than whatwe had won with our own efforts innegotiations and what we deserve givenour economic development and levelsof harmonisation of our system.Besides, according to the report by MrElmar Brook, the European Parliamentitself insisted to keep the "regatta sys-tem", following the recommendationsof the Thessaloniki agenda. Finally, I would refrain from draw-ing direct conclusions for the EUStabilisation and Association Processfrom the events of the accession to thePfP programme.
However, some analysts, suchas Dr Judy Batt, warn that the regionalapproach might be gaining in impor-tance?
I believe that the "regatta principle"is sufficiently fair for those countrieswho wish to safeguard their Europeanagenda and preserve motivation for theprocess. If the dynamics of the associ-ation process were to be depend onsome unresolved political issues inother countries, and not on our ownefforts, Montenegro, or any othercountry, could easily lose motivation tostep up the dynamics of the process. In the phase of European integra-tions in which we find ourselves today,there are no signs of "freezing" theassociation process, no official or unof-ficial announcement of slowing downthis phase. We are simply continuingthe journey on our "European road",and the pace of integration dependsonly on us. At the same time, EU hasposed itself the task to resolve the issueof its new institutional arrangement andintegration capacity for the acceptanceof new states by the beginning of 2009,before the parliamentary elections.However, for us, 2009 is tomorrow,which means that we should get downto doing our own "homework" andplough dynamically through all thephases of integration. In 2009, we willnot be at the doorstep of EU, but wemay reach some phase of defining thecandidacy and opening permanentnegotiations which are, again, a long-term process. In other words, we arenot under the pressure of accession,and we should not allow discontentand impatience to rise. We have aclear European perspective ahead of usand our accession dynamics does notclash with the EU needs to consolidateits accession policy. One day, when Montenegro isfinally ready for the EU, I truly believe that the EU will be ready forMontenegro as well, ready to open itsdoors for us and to accept us in fullcapacity as an equal member.
When do you think this day willcome?
I will limit my projections to themandate of this Government, within theborders of rational expectations. In thismandate, we can get SAA, we can haveit ratified by all the Parliaments, see itcome into force, and implement mostof the agreement in the meantime. Parallel to this, there will be theprocess of application for candidatestatus, which we could submit alreadyby 2008, and perhaps get it in 2009.Membership negotiations take a fewyears, which means we can join in2010, 2011 or 2012.I would not make further progno-sis. Let us remember that Montenegrohas already harmonised many of itslaws with the Acquis, we are a small,flexible system, ready to strengthen ouradministration for European integrations- the awareness of the importance ofworking hard on the issues of Europeanintegrations is steadily growing, and sois the number of people working onthese tasks. Our European perspectiveis therefore a rising, positive trend.
Where does Montenegro standin this process with respect to othercountries of the region, if we disregardnominal statuses?
It is difficult to compare, and thereis a touch of political sensitivity to it. InMontenegro in 2006 we have for thefirst time a clear political framework,there are no political obstacles and nocontentious issues with either of ourneighbours. That is a great politicalcapital. We now have the basis to con-struct a new image of Montenegro. It isinteresting that in the surroundingcountries there is much more optimismregarding Montenegrin perspectives forintegration than inside the countryitself. This is the opinion of our neigh-bours, because we have no unsolvedstatus issues, such as Kosovo, and nopolitical problems with the ICTY. Therefore, we have great chancesto rely on the political and economicassociation with EU, and both the ECrepresentatives and the governmentagree that it could go even faster. The pace, however, depends onour own efforts. In that respect, itwould be helpful to promote the spiritof democratic maturity in Montenegro,so that the political parties are not busyscoring easy points in criticising theprocess of European integrations, andinstead engage their full contribution tothe process, so that we can move withmaximum potential - which is a com-mon interest of all Montenegrins. De-politicising the issue and mobilising fullconsensus for the process, we canmove forward much more easily. Maybe we can get much closer toCroatia than we are now. Obviously,we wish all the luck in the integrationprocess to Serbia and Bosnia as well,but each country should be judgedaccording to its own merit in the real-isation of the European agenda.
Are you perhaps planning todiscuss the "European consensus" withrepresentatives of opposition parties?
Once we form the joint Par-liamentary Committee for Monitoringthe Implementation of SAA, and beginto implement the National Plan forAssociation, (implementation of theagreement), all parties will get a chanceto contribute to the process substantial-ly. The real question is whether theseparties are able to give expert supportto the process through the parliamen-tary committee, to express constructivecritique of the new laws, to participatein round tables, cooperate with inter-national donors who wish to providetraining and technical supportThereis definitely enough space for all polit-ical parties to participate in the processand give their own contribution.N. RUDOVIĆ

THE MOST DIFFICULT THING IS TO IMPLEMENT THE LAWS
�� What are the greatest advantages and disadvantages of Montenegro on its road towards the EU?

I believe that in economic terms we have many advantages, because we have been working hard, both on our economic legislation and on attracting foreign investments and also in making people aware that each individual's success in the market depends on his/her own efforts, so that they should not wait for the state to rescue them. As for the reform of state administration, we have come a long way in building institutions and drafting laws, but of course, implementation remains a great challenge, and so is strengthening the capacities of the Parliament and independence of the judiciary. It all comes down to our ability to create quality administration and institutions which are necessary for the process.
�� According to you, what fraction of the legislation has been harmonised already, how much needs to be amended and how many new laws adopted in order to harmonise our system with EU legislation?

The first national plan for the implementation of Acquis will be made next year, this is when we will for the first time analyse in detail the qualitative and quantitative aspects of our legislation. I expect us to be positively surprised. For us, implementation is the problem, not the formal harmonisation of the EU rules. The March 2006 European Partnership requires a further 105 new laws to be adopted. This is going according to the plan, but soon enough we will have a new European Partnership and also new obligations that come with it.



ENVIRONMENT THE MOST EXPENSIVE
�� Which sectors do you expect to be the most difficult and most expensive in complying with EU standards?

Environment is one of the most expensive sectors, environment in the sense of a developed waste disposal system, clear spatial documentation, spatial management plans, including building of the necessary infrastructure, in terms of energy, roads, railways, water supply and sewage systems, waste management
This is something that the state is doing for itself, first of all, just as the entire process of European integrations is in fact a positive process and our voluntary choice. In other words, once we are part of the European Union, it should come as a confirmation of our success in development, not us simply being there regardless of the living standards, in the sense that we will be living in a developed society and a consolidated democracy. European integrations are in fact a road to consolidate our own state, to strengthen its basis through quality institutions, but also to create the right environment for business and healthy environment, which altogether should lead to improvement of the living standards of our citizens. It is, in effect, a philosophy of development. Another financially challenging sector is the question of safe food and implementation of the sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures which come in the package of agricultural harmonisation. Veterinary is expensive, but there are also the extra costs in terms of administrative efforts in institution building. It is not so much the financial burden, but the extensive investment in human resources that poses so many complications, because it takes several years to complete. I believe that Montenegro has enough cadres, but it has not been adequately employed in the direction of European integrations. European integrations are not only happening in the Secretariat for European Integrations and in the Government, they are also taking place in firms, among the social partners, in the civil society, media.