“I wanted my first visit to a non-EU Member State to be in Montenegro to send a strong signal to our partners in the Western Balkans: Europe is present and committed to the EU perspective of the whole of the region. This is the message I imperatively want to convey to the people of Montenegro and their political leaders”, said Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament concluding his two days visit to Montenegro.
Tajani held meetings with the President of the Republic, Filip Vujanovic , Speaker of the Parliament, Ivan Brajović and the Prime Minister, Dusko Markovic.
“With 28 out of 35 negotiating chapters opened and three provisionally closed, Montenegro spearheads the region when it comes to EU membership negotiations. Its recent accession to NATO is strong proof that the country is embracing our common values and is aligning itself with our foreign and security policy goals. Nevertheless, some important elements such as economic reforms, fight against corruption and the rule of law still need to be improved,” Tajani added.
“Stability in the region means stability for all of Europe. This is why we must continue to work together on preventing irregular migration, fighting terrorism, extremism, radicalisation and organised crime,” Tajani continued.
In addition to the institutional meetings, Tajani participated in a business conference on the economic opportunities in Montenegro and in a tourism event with students:
“Political and economic development and regional integration are essential in fostering stability not only for Montenegro, but for the whole Western Balkans. Accession negotiations should not stop our work championing economic diplomacy, particularly for SMEs, entrepreneurship and tourism. Montenegro’s economy is expected to grow at around 3% this year and the World Bank expects it to keep this pace up in 2018 and 2019. These are good signs for the country, however, reforms are needed to attract more foreign direct investment – the EU stands ready to help,” Tajani ensured.
Tajani visited a construction site of Terna, the Lastva sub-station of the Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor, which will connect Montenegro’s electrical grid to Italy’s through a submarine cable.
“Strengthening our economic cooperation and connecting the Balkans to Europe in terms of energy, transport and infrastructure will boost its path towards EU membership. For this reason, I also visited the Lastva sub-station of the Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor, a major connectivity project between the EU and Montenegro. There again, Montenegro is leading the way as the highest per capita recipient of EU investment grants under the connectivity agenda” added Tajani.
“History and geography unite us. I see a bright future for the EU, continuing to grow beyond our twenty-seven Member States. However, we must follow-up on the decisions taken in Trieste last week with concrete results – my visit to Montenegro builds on that strategy,” concluded Tajani.