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With One Voice: Foreign Minister Schallenberg and Slovenian Foreign Minister Fajon travel to Montenegro on behalf of the EU High Representative

AUSTRIA, December 20 - On 21 December 2022, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and his counterpart from Slovenia, Tanja Fajon, travelled to the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on behalf of Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. The two ministers, acting as representatives of the 27 EU member states, met with political leaders including President Milo Đukanović, caretaker Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, and President of Parliament Danijela Djurovic to express the EU’s concerns about the political stalemate in Montenegro and its negative impact on the EU accession process. 

We are currently witnessing a political blockade of Montenegro’s European path that could derail the train to Europe!

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, summarising the current developments in Montenegro. 

Foreign Minister Schallenberg and Foreign Minister Fajon were tasked with leading the discussions in Montenegro because integrating the Western Balkans into the EU is a central priority for Austria and Slovenia. On behalf of their 25 EU counterparts, the two foreign ministers called on Montenegrin decision-makers to continue along the European path that Montenegro had previously begun so commendably. 

We want Montenegro to remain a pioneer among the Western Balkan states. We cannot allow internal divisions to weaken our Montenegrin friends’ resolve and divert them from their current path toward stability and prosperity. That would be a disappointment for the region, and even more importantly, a disaster for the citizens of Montenegro, 

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, emphasising the seriousness of the situation, which is threatening progress that has already been made and weakening Montenegro’s democratic institutions. 

Above all, the current institutional crisis must be resolved. For instance, the repeated failure to appoint members to the constitutional court symbolises the country’s ongoing problems. The reforms to the rule of law that Montenegro had promised have still not been implemented. This must change as quickly as possible, urged the two foreign ministers.

Reform efforts and political compromises would primarily benefit Montenegro and its citizens, stated Foreign Minister Schallenberg and Foreign Minister Fajon. Furthermore, they said, its EU integration process would once again gain momentum, which would be relevant for the entire EU. The candidate countries’ progress toward EU membership was especially important, they noted, in light of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and given Russia’s interference in the Western Balkans.