Montenegro received a new negotiator with the European Union on May 24. The former, Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic was forced to resign because three months earlier, the Corruption Prevention Directorate accused him of conflict of interests and limitation in performing public functions. He was accused because while he was as the minister for European affairs, he agreed to work for another salary – as the chief negotiator with the EU. And that second “negotiating” salary brought additional 4,690 euros a month, plus an apartment in Brussels, for which about 2 thousand euros were paid in monthly rent from the state budget of Montenegro.
“I emphasize that I have acted upon the current regulations adopted by the government, which have been worked out following the examples of Croatia and Serbia. There the Chief Negotiator’s role also implies the status of ambassador to the Mission in Brussels. As for the criticism that I take two salaries, it is determined by the decision of the prime minister, and not by my desire,” Pejovic stated.
After criticism in the public did not go quiet, he had to resign. Aleksandar Drlevic was named in his place, and the Podgorica government took another step in order not to do the same: it abolished the Ministry of European Affairs, and the chief negotiator got an office beside the cabinet of Prime Minister Dusko Marovic.
The countries of the region have different experiences with their negotiating teams for membership in the Union. Croatia, for example, which became a member of the EU on July 1, 2013, during all eight years of negotiations, had the same representative: Vladimir Drobnjak. He arrived at that posst in New York, where he was the Croatian ambassador to the United Nations from 2003 to 2005. Previously, he was an ambassador to the European Union, so he was well acquainted with the issues. Although during the course of his negotiations, the ruling parties in Croatia changed, but his post at no time was called into question.
“I hope to lose my job as soon as possible, because that would mean that Croatia has completed the negotiations. And later, when we join the EU, I will have other duties”, is one of the most impressive of his statements given during the negotiations.
Serbia is led by Tanja Miscevic, a professor at the Belgrade Faculty of Political Science and a former president of the Office for Joining the EU. Serbian media wrote that she had never been a member of any party, but stressed that she is a colleague to Ivica Dacic, the minister of foreign affairs, since their faculty days. She and her team, which has only thirty people in the nearest circle, report to the European Commission twice a year to implement action plans.
By the decision of the Macedonian government at Monday’s session, Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Bujar Osmani was appointed EU negotiator, and Bojan Maricic, a technical negotiator, was appointed as the prime minister’s advisor. Osmani is on this post since last year, he is a professional doctor since 2004. Maricic, meanwhile, before being Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s advisor for Euro-Atlantic integrations, was a long-standing civic activist in the non-governmental sector. He was executive director at the Macedonian Center for European Training for four years, and has worked there for a total of seven years.
According to Nezavisen/Independent newspaper, the two remain on their current positions, that is, negotiating with the EU will not change anything in their everyday obligations, at least for the time being.”So it will be until September, when the official start of screening begins. Then, representatives of the European Commission will come to Skopje with materials for all 33 chapters that will need to be harmonized and monitored. Until then, our team will go on one trip to Brussels at a preparatory meeting, but the main thing is starting in autumn. Thereafter, they will be called to the EU headquarters once a month to report on what and how much they have done. In particular, Maricic, as in the example with Montenegro, is likely to receive an office next to Prime Minister Zaev’s cabinet in order to be fully committed to the new engagement, while Osmani will not leave the ministerial post, but the negotiation process will lead him without additional paid engagement, he will not receive another salary,” government sources say for Nezavisen/Independent newspaper.
As is customary, the screening process that involves familiarizing a candidate country with the rule of law in the EU begins with chapters 23 and 24: the rule of law, the judiciary, corruption, freedom and security. It lasts about one year and is conducted on the basis of a schedule drawn up by the Commission. Everything follows a chapter by chapter, except for Chapters 34 (Institutions) and 35 (Other Issues), which are the subject of negotiations in the final phase of the accession process.
“Firstly, meetings are held for explaining during which Commission representatives detail the EU law and then bilateral meetings with each country. Subsequently, the Commission prepares a screening report and presents it to the Council. After the screening of the relevant chapter, the Council decides to start the negotiations on the recommendation of the Commission,” explained the Secretariat for European Affairs (SEA).
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who attended Thursday’s government session in Skopje, officially marked the start of the screening and preparations process for the EU accession talks on accession to the European Union in June 2019. The Macedonian Prime Minister stressed that the process will be managed by the government, but it will also include the Parliament, the opposition, the judiciary, the civil society etc.
The government mandated the SEA and the Foreign Ministry to prepare a draft concept for negotiations with the EU by the end of July.
“Thanks to the reform priorities that the government worked on in the past year, as well as the agreements reached on good neighborly relations with Bulgaria and the name agreement with Greece, they have contributed to the wide opening of the EU’s doors. The agreement with Greece is a contribution to prosperity, peace and stability for the entire region. It is up to you to decide on the future of your country, in a free and sovereign way. Citizens should make the final decision, exercise their democratic rights and participate in the upcoming referendum,” Hahn said.