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The Sofia Echo: Barroso praises Montenegro’s progress towards EU membership

Published date: 14.06.2010 16:35 | Author: Biro

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European Commission President Jose Barroso, speaking after meeting Montenegro’s prime minister Milo Djukanovic, has praised the efforts of the country’s government which led to its application to join the European Union.

Speaking in Brussels on June 9 2010, Barroso said that their talks had been "very constructive".

"We have made important progress over the last year, both on visa liberalisation and the entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement."

Barroso said that the European Commission was now preparing its opinion on Montenegro's application.

"I cannot give details at this stage as we still have substantial work to do," Barroso said.

"All I can say is that the Commission's opinion will be fair and objective. And meeting the political criteria will be central to our opinion in moving ahead to candidate status and the opening of negotiations."

Barroso said that one area that already could be identified where specific attention was needed was strengthening the rule of law, including establishing a clear track record on the fight against corruption, organised crime and also on the pursuit of judicial reform.

He said that his message to Djukanovic had been to "keep up the efforts and to continue our close co-operation in the coming months".

"In fact I have praised the constructive attitude of the prime minister. He has seen also this process as a way of reform in the country and the modernisation of this country."

Barroso also paid tribute to what he called the "constructive role" that Djukanovic had shown in the region with the presidency of the South East Europe Co-operation Process.

"Last week's Sarajevo conference sent out an important message for the European future of the Western Balkans. Intra-regional cooperation is the first step towards a broader European perspective for Montenegro and indeed for the whole region," Barroso said.