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Brussels, 4 March 2011

Statement by Commissioner Füle following the meeting with Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Lukšić

It is a great pleasure to be here today with new Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Lukšić who is paying his first visit to Brussels since he stepped into power in December last year.

During our very interesting, thorough and constructive meeting, we have reviewed the achievements of Montenegro on its EU-accession path, and forthcoming steps. We also looked into the plans of Montenegro to address the key priorities set out in the Commission Opinion in view of opening accession negotiations.

As I told the Prime minister, Montenegro's strong commitment and ownership over the key priorities are an asset. The determined, constructive and inclusive approach adopted by the Montenegrin government are very welcome.

While the ownership of the process lies firmly with Montenegro, the Commission is closely accompanying the process with dialogue, advice and technical assistance. I am very pleased that comments submitted by the Commission in our recent consultations have been taken on board.

Now, let me stress that the key word here is implementation. Implementation of reforms is essential for the credibility of the Enlargement process. Montenegro should deliver concrete results on the key priorities, but it should also continue its reforms in other areas where shortcomings have been identified by the Commission. It should notably upgrade efforts to strengthen its administrative and implementation capacity in a number of areas as recommended in the Commission Opinion. This is crucial. We expect to see tangible results in this area as in the others mentioned.

My strong impression is that Montenegro understands that the challenges on the road to accession cannot be underestimated. As we know, hard work always pays back.

The Commission stands ready to support Montenegro in all stages of the process. I am convinced that with the help of the Member States and the European institutions, but mainly with the mobilisation of the resources of the Montenegrin people – Montenegro can take its rightful place within the European family.

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