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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Igor Lukšić, Prime Minister of Montenegro

Press point

Brussels, 3 March 2011

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

It was a pleasure to receive Prime Minister Lukšić in Brussels today. This is his first foreign trip after his nomination as Prime Miister

Since it is the first time I am meeting him after he took office, I would like once again to congratulate him and wish him all the best for Montenegro and also for Montenegro's European perspective. Prime Minister Lukšić represents a new generation of leaders who embrace the future and the great opportunities that lie ahead for Montenegro.

The biggest of these opportunities is precisely European Union integration.

Today, we have mainly discussed the ongoing efforts of Montenegro on its path to the European Union.

Montenegro is at a decisive stage. The candidate status which it has obtained is a fair recognition of its achievements. Now we have to build on this status to make progress - because this status of candidate is also a great responsibility for the future: a responsibility to prove that Montenegro is ready to deliver on all its obligations.

I am very pleased with the commitment and the efforts demonstrated so far by the Prime Minister's Government in addressing our recommendations.

It is particularly important that the Government has elaborated a detailed Action Plan on the key priorities through an inclusive consultation process. This Action Plan focuses on the shortcomings identified in the Commission's Opinion.

The key is implementation. Strong leadership and ownership are needed to address the priorities, in particular the ones related to the rule of law. We need to see concrete results in this crucial field, which is also central, as the Prime Minister knows well, for the business environment and therefore in Montenegro's own interest.

Experience from previous enlargements has shown the importance of addressing these issues with vigour, and as early as possible in the accession process.

Results are the best proof of political will. Because EU accession is not just about ticking the boxes - it is about a clear track record of enforcement on the ground.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is fair to say that Montenegro is on the right track. Its next steps towards the EU now depend on its own achievements.

We will, as usual, apply strict and rigorous conditionality in this process. But once a country delivers we will acknowledge it positively and move ahead. As I said to the Prime Minister rigour and fairness can go together.

I have therefore assured Prime Minister Lukšić that the Commission will continue to support Montenegro in all the stages of the enlargement process.

And I am convinced, Prime Minister, that with this European help – but of course mainly with the energy and talent of your people – your country will be able to take its rightful place within the European family. I thank you for coming to Brussels which gave us the opportunity to discuss these issues.

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