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International Heard Tribune: World's newest country to take first step toward EU membership

Published date: 12.03.2007 17:01 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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BRUSSELS, Belgium: Montenegro, which gained independence last summer, will take its first concrete step towards membership of the European Union with the adoption of a pre-membership agreement later this month, officials said Thursday.

"Montenegro did a very good job on the Stabilization and Association Agreement," said Olli Rehn, the bloc's enlargement commissioner after meeting Montenegrin Prime Minister Zeljko Sturanovic.

"Now that technical negotiations are finalized, I am looking forward to the initialization of the agreement," he said, adding that this would happen "pretty soon."

Officials said the document could be initialed later this month during Rehn's visit to the region, and formally signed in spring.

The world's newest state will then have to implement a set of reforms, including adopting a new constitution, reforming its judicial system, and tackling rampant corruption before it can be invited to become a member of the 27-nation bloc. The process is likely to take at least 2-3 years.