The state of votes
EU integration tied to NATO membership and executive performance
All roads lead to Brussels if Montenegrin society acts now
Robert Shushich | 2013. June 30. 17:47
Integrating the European Union is only a matter of time for Montenegro. In order to facilitate the process the country should also integrate NATO, and get its executive power and civil soceity actively involved.
The government of Montenegro has pointed out: entering the European Union is one of its priorities. Even though the Montenegrin government did and does a lot to put its plan into action, is this small state ready for integration?
On the way towards European integration there are multiple tasks to be completed apart from the "acquis communautaire". Most of the Montenegrins want to join the European Union but the majority is not in favor of NATO membership. There are some countries that are members of EU without being a member of NATO (for example Austria and Sweden), but these countries are located in stable regions. The Balkan Peninsula is well known for its instability. For example both World Wars have been fought in the Balkans. Before those tremendous wars, people living in this region had to fight against the Ottoman Empire and other conquers. In the end of the twentieth century the Balkan Peninsula witnessed multiple conflicts which repeated history “written” with blood and wars. Joining NATO would be the first step toward regional stability, the guarantee of healthy relations between neighbors (the latter being one of the requirements of EU membership) and, generally talking, a way to prosperity. Because of geographical reasons, Montenegro has to face two major issues: the first one is of course the question of Kosovo and the second is Bosnia and Herzegovina a country with problems related to its multiethnic inhabitants. Montenegro may play an important role in resolving these issues in a civilized manner and may also have a great impact as a mediator in the negotiations between the parties of the conflicts.
Some steps cannot be dodged. There is a way toward integration and for this turbulent region, but the ordinary procedure must be followed: NATO membership should precede European integration, even if nowadays only 32.8% of the people would vote in favor of the NATO.
When states are preparing the integration there are multiple points to work on. The role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the civil society cannot be ignored. Montenegro has made progress in a lot of spheres of policy-making and that is remarkable. But there is a remaining problem: implementation. Great ideas are suggested and presented by the NGOs and the government mostly accepts and supports those ideas. However, when it comes to the final phase, something cracks. Finalization and execution are the last, but not the easiest steps. The NGO sector is continuously working on the improvement of the current situation. To make the integration process successful, the Montenegrin government should also involve itself completely and without any reserves. Montenegro is an excellent example of what countries in this region are able to achieve when they work hard enough.
The effort made by the nongovernmental organizations and the civil sector is only one side of the coin. The other, less shining side is the weak implementation done by the Montenegrin government. There is a kind of cooperation between the NGOs and the government but this latter should be much more flexible and efficient. If that happened Montenegro could easily become a member of the European Union.
Danka Markovic | 2013. June 30. 17:47
Montenegro's potential to integrate the European Union is a fact. The road to integration seems bumpy, but if citizens become aware of their importance in the process, a bright European future is awaiting the country.
Democracy, freedom, equality, respect of human rights, of human dignity, rule of law, free movement of people and goods: these are the core values of the European Union. They are set out by the Lisbon Treaty and shared by all Member States. Every country willing to join the EU must respect them. And Montenegro is able to that. It has already been working on and opened negotiation chapters and new ones are to be opened. It is sure that more efforts are to be made but they will pay-off; Montenegro has a bright future inside the EU. People who consider that Montenegro is too small, insignificant or weak to join the EU are wrong. The EU consists of big and small countries, all of them are linguistically, culturally, ethnically, socially and economically different. And Montenegro has a lot to contribute with to this diversity.
The integration process may seem to be a bumpy path. Montenegro has to implement strict European rules and standards in order to be able to promote the Union's goals such as social justice and protection, the fight against social exclusion and discrimination. However, this implementation process has to be seen as a possibility to upgrade the society rather than an obligation. Montenegrins need to recognize their strengths and overcome their weaknesses to learn, just like the EU countries’ citizens, how to actively participate in problem solving.
Montenegro is like Dorothy, Toto, Tin Woodman, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion: with all its virtues and flaws it has to defend its Wicked Witches. If it manages to do so, the yellow brick road will lead - if not to the Land of Oz - to Europe. One thing is clear: the country's place is there. Montenegro may have issues regarding corruption, law or gray economy… But it has to overcome all of them.
Sometimes, Montenegro seems also like The Shire, the land of hobbits, where all what matters are the joys of life, having good food, music and dancing. People have already realized that, on the way to the EU, they cannot live that life-style. Montenegrins consider themselves to be easy going and relaxed, and sometimes they are maybe even proud of that. But this self-definition should be completed in order to become a European Member State. Such like in all European countries, Montenegrin citizens should play an important role in everyday life. During the last years, the country made a lot of progress in that field. The idea of active citizenship and the role of the NGO sector improved considerably. Right now, there are around 200 nongovernmental organizations, which permit to ordinary citizens to participate in projects, come up with new ideas and work on the improvement of the society. Certainly, regarding the number of NGOs, Montenegro fits already the EU standards. The problem resides more in the cooperation between the NGOs and the governmental institutions. By improving this cooperation Montenegro may show that it is ready to become part of the European Union.
The huge number of EU grants, the different programs and the behavior of European countries that keep investing a lot of money in the education of people and the activation of civil society show that Europe had already recognized Montenegro's potentials and readiness for the integration. The country has to use these possibilities in an intelligent way and citizens have to understand that they are the ones who will implement democratic policies and bring substantial changes. These are the citizens, and not the institutions, which may ensure the bright future of the country as well as that of the European Union.
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