The European Union welcomes Ambassador Badescu to the Permanent Council for the first time as Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, and thanks her for her excellent report. The EU would also like to congratulate her and her team on the smooth conversion of the former OSCE Office in Podgorica into a separate full-fledged Mission to Montenegro with a broad mandate covering all three dimensions of the OSCE’s work.
2006 was a historic year for Montenegro. It gained its independence and made good progress in putting in place the legal and institutional set-up required by its new competences as an independent state. It held elections, assessed by the International Election Observation Mission to have been conducted largely in accordance with OSCE commitments and international standards. A new government was formed which has pursued policies that have helped Montenegro move further along the economic and political reform path in pursuit of its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. In September negotiations between the European Union and Montenegro on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement were launched. These negotiations are now in their final stage and the EU expects to be able to sign the agreement within the next months. The EU also welcomes the constructive approach that Montenegro is taking to the Kosovo status process.
Mr. Chairman, Montenegro has come a long way in a short time. But, of course, there is a lot still to be done. The European Union urges Montenegro to adopt a new constitution based on European values and in full compliance with international standards and to make further efforts to develop its administrative capacity and to strengthen the independence of its media and of its judicial system. The EU also urges the government of Montenegro to step up its fight against organised crime and corruption and to continue its good co-operation with the ICTY.
The EU attaches great importance to the Mission’s role in helping Montenegro move forwards and notes the very good working relations it has developed with the Montenegrin authorities. Fostering stability and security should be a top priority for the Mission. The Mission’s work in promoting democratisation, tolerance, the rule of law, and ethnic minority rights is to be commended. The EU also welcomes the Mission’s efforts to help strengthen the capacity of the Montenegrin authorities - and the independence and impartiality of the police and judiciary – to combat organised crime and corruption. The EU also welcomes the Mission's activities to support Montenegro's prompt efforts to meet its commitments in accordance with Vienna Document 99 and other FSC-related documents. It also encourages the Mission to promote regional co-operation, notably on border policing and the fight against human trafficking.
The EU wishes Ambassador Badescu and her staff well and, once again, underlines its clear support for her Mission’s active involvement in helping Montenegro move forwards.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.