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European Tour in Petnjica: Sharing the Vision of Montenegro as part of the EU Family

We share a common vision of Montenegro as part of the EU family. The rich and diverse programme at the Divan Garden, filled with children representing the future of Montenegro and the EU, confirmed that Montenegro is already part of Europe. This was the message conveyed from the European Tour held in Petnjica.

During his introductory speech, the Mayor of the Municipality, Samir Agović, said that this event sends a message to Europe—which the people of Montenegro so eagerly desire—that we want to be part of the modern world.

“Petnjica, as a small municipality, is significant in terms of the ideas it proclaims on the path towards the European Union. It is our duty to do this at every level,” Agović stated.

He expressed his satisfaction that the youngest residents of Petnjica are participating in the event and have the opportunity to feel how much Europe is oriented towards the youth. Agović highlighted that the Municipality of Petnjica has benefited from the EU support through the implementation of cross-border cooperation projects with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, and other countries in the region, emphasising that there is a dedicated team in Petnjica working on these projects.

State Secretary at the Ministry of Public Administration, Naim Gjokaj, reminded of the importance of public administration reform in Montenegro’s EU accession process, especially in the context of marking Europe Day in municipalities.

“Our goal is to ensure the full implementation of the EU law, through establishing a public administration based on inclusion, transparency, equality, and equal opportunities for all, as well as creating public services in line with the citizens’ needs,” Gjokaj stated.

He announced the start of the project “Empowering Local Communities in the EU Integration Process of Montenegro” worth one million Euros, which is funded by the EU and is expected to be jointly implemented by the Ministry of Public Administration, the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro, and 25 Montenegrin municipalities. He stressed that this project, which will initiated by the end of 2024, aims to strengthen the capacities of municipalities for the continued European integration process and ensure that local governments are equipped with the necessary institutional, financial, and human resources for the effective implementation of EU policies and standards at the local level.

Nadia Kjučukova, a representative of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, expressed her satisfaction for being in the beautiful city of Petnjica and attending the event involving so many beautiful children.

“By painting the flags of Member States, children showcase the diversity of the European Union, but bear in mind that their number is not final. Soon, the flag of Montenegro will be where it belongs, among the flags of the European Union,” Kjučkova stated.

She noted that there is still work to be done to achieve the EU membership and that the European Union will increasingly focus on smaller municipalities in Montenegro, especially in the north, with more aid programmes for better living conditions and local services.

“Today, we will visit one of the IPARD beneficiaries who received half of their investment for free from the European Union. With such projects and the new Growth Plan, we want Montenegrin citizens to reach European living standards even before joining the EU. Then, there will be no more talk of emigration, and Petnjica will be vibrant once more,” Kjučkova stated.

Irena Bošković, Head of the Evaluation and Support Department in the Ministry of European Affairs, stated that the European Tour aims to strengthen the European spirit and identity and provide an opportunity for citizens in Montenegrin municipalities to connect more with European values and ideals through various cultural, sports, and musical events.

She emphasised the role of local governments in solving complex social issues and said they should be the drivers of change.

“Through joint projects, cities and municipalities have the opportunity to cooperate, exchange best practices, and encourage citizen participation in policymaking. Montenegro has been successfully utilising European Union funds for over 15 years and cooperating with neighbours through various cross-border and territorial cooperation programmes, which aim to improve the quality of life for all citizens. These projects are the core of the European integration. Through cooperation and the exchange of experiences with neighbours, our citizens experience the concrete benefits of the EU accession process. Petnjica is an example of good practices in this regard, a small municipality that has shown impressive results in accessing EU funds, which we will see firsthand today with the visit of the IPARD project beneficiary,” Bošković stated.

The event was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Management, the General Directors for Payments and Head of the IPARD Agency Marko Radonjić, the General Director of the Directorate for Rural Development and Head of the IPARD Managing Authority Andrijana Rakočević, as well as Nina Jakić, Head of Unit in the IPARD Managing Authority, who, together with representatives of the EU Delegation and the Municipality of Petnjica, visited the IPARD project beneficiary, Ismet Prentić, in the village of Savin Bor, who acquired tractors, balers, and motor cultivators through the EU’s support.

The European Tour is organised by the municipalities of Bar, Nikšić, Kolašin, Mojkovac, Berane, Žabljak, Petnjica, and Pljevlja as part of the EU4ME programme, together with the Ministry of European Affairs and the support of the EU Delegation.