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It was my pleasure to welcome today Prime Minister Milorad Djukanović, who I met in June 2010 in Brussels and in October 2010 in Podgorica shortly before Montenegro obtained the status of an EU candidate country. I congratulated Prime Minister Djukanović on his appointment as Prime Minister of Montenegro.
The opening of accession negotiations with Montenegro was an important signal for the whole region that the EU doors are open. I congratulated Prime Minister Djukanović on the country's significant progress in 2012 resulting in the opening of the accession negotiations. I underlined the need that Montenegro builds on the progress made especially in the rule of law area. Particular attention needs to be paid to develop a solid track record in this area.
I also emphasised the importance of ensuring accountability and independence of the judiciary. In this respect, it is the responsibility of the government and of the opposition for a mature political dialogue to ensure adoption of the constitutional reform.
On regional cooperation, I welcomed Montenegro's positive and constructive role in the region and encouraged the Prime Minister to maintain these efforts.
The EU continues to attach great importance to the European perspective of the Western Balkans as a whole. Montenegro has definitely a European future.