SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) hailed the start of accession negotiations for the still new state of Montenegro, but warned that there remains much work to be done to bring the former Yugoslavian republic to EU standards in a number of areas.
The formal talks started at a meeting yesterday in Luxembourg of the EU's Foreign Ministers, scoping out which areas of domestic law and practice Montenegro will need to reform and how the EU will assist in that process. It is unlikely talks will conclude before 2020 at the earliest, but the door to EU membership remains firmly open.
"The EU remains, even with the current passing economic difficulties, the club to join. The EU has strict rules on what sort of countries can join, and high standards on the rule of law, transparency of politics, market economies and human rights.
"Montenegro has a way to go but has a willing partner in the EU and loads of support - it is imperative that we keep the door open and talks ongoing. We will not relax our standards, but through dialogue, training and exchange of best practice we can bring Montenegro into the family of nations and thereby expand the EU's zone of stability and security to a region which could badly do with both. The EU has achieved much through soft diplomacy, and I am pleased that this process continues."
For wider background on the talks see: