The European Union Parliament’s special envoy to the Balkans has given the country a two week ultimatum— clear up corruption, or remain outside the EU .
The MP, Jelko Kacin called for personnel changes in the top echelons of government, concrete achievements in fighting corruption and the creation of legal state. He was speaking conference on the Montenegrin economy Tuesday in the southern resort city of Budva.
"We need to resolve specific cases of high corruption,” said the Slovenian MP. “An essential step on this road is achieving full independence of the judiciary and all state bodies. In order to progress some personnel changes will be necessary. To be clear, the country of Montenegro must create a state of Montenegro, meaning rule of law with independent institutions. Today that is still not the case.”
The harsh rebuke came as OCCRP published front page investigations in both of Montenegro’s daily newspapers exposing the problems at First Bank, the country’s largest Montenegrin-owned bank. It is majority owned by the brother of former PM Milo Djukanovic, and the second largest stakeholder is the semi-privatized energy company.
Last week, EU Enlargement commissioner Stefano Sannino said it was likely that the small Adriatic country would get the green light for accession talks in June.
But Kacin said the country had two weeks to shape up, or risk missing out.
“The government of Montenegro has two weeks to improve [its record] through concrete and convincing actions,” he told those assembled at the seaside conference.
After a BBC Newsnight special on corruption in Montenegro produced in partnership with OCCRP , Commissioner Saninno acknowledged that Montenegro remains plagued by corruption. At Tuesday’s meeting, Kacin stressed the importance of the judiciary and of prosecuting corruption. Since Montenegro’s independence in 2006, there has not been a single high profile corruption conviction. An article in the influential American Foreign Affairs journal last month said Montenegro was a “mafia state.”