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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

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

Press point

Brussels, 21 March 2012

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Lukšić of Montenegro to Brussels once again.

Indeed, this is the third time we meet since the Prime Minister took office and I can see that his European enthusiasm remains the same.

We had a very fruitful and constructive meeting where we discussed Montenegro's achievements on its EU accession path as well as the next steps.

Clearly, Montenegro has worked very hard on its EU agenda, particularly since December 2010 when it was granted EU candidate status and Prime Minister Lukšić took office.

The recent decision of the European Council, opening the door towards the start of accession negotiations, is a fair recognition of the Montenegro's efforts. I have commended the Prime Minister on his strong leadership in this process.

This coming spring, in line with the European Council conclusions, the Commission will present a report on the implementation of reforms in Montenegro, with a particular focus on the rule of law and fundamental rights.

This report is very important for the country's European journey as it will serve as a basis for the Council's decision on the opening of accession negotiations with Montenegro.

Therefore, I have encouraged the Prime Minister to continue delivering further concrete results in these key fields, meaning the rule of law and fundamental rights, but also the fight against corruption and organized crime. In these areas, there is still significant work to be done – which is first and foremost in your country's own interest.

So in short: Montenegro is in principle close to opening accession negotiations. Now it needs to run the final straight towards this ambitious objective.

I am convinced that with strong political will and determination, and hard work in the next weeks and months, Montenegro will succeed! Success is indeed in your own hands.

I am also encouraged by the firm national consensus and the strong commitment of the Montenegrin people to move forward on the path towards European Union membership. As I said last year, when I visited Podgorica, and I believe still to be true today: "Montenegro is on the right track!"

From our part, the Commission will continue to provide support to Montenegro at this crucial stage of the accession process. Montenegro can certainly count on us.

I thank you for your attention.

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