PACE welcomes Montenegro into the European family
( COE ) - Today, the Republic of Montenegro joined the Council of Europe as its 47th member. The accession ceremony took place in Strasbourg, just before the 117th session of the Organisation's Committee of Ministers. The ceremony began at 9am with a statement by Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Organisation followed by a speech by Milan Rocen, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Montenegro.
At the ceremony to mark Montenegro's accession as 47th member state of the Council of Europe, Bernard Schreiner ( France, EPP/CD), Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly, warmly welcomed what could be described as Montenegro's "return to the fold". He added that " Montenegro has shown itself able to put its troubled past behind it and move on as a member of the European family and the international community."
"It is a great pleasure for me to address you today on the occasion of the accession of Montenegro to the Council of Europe. I do so on behalf of Mr Renй van der Linden, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, who is unfortunately prevented from attending due to pressing obligations
Today, then, the Council of Europe welcomes its 47th member state: the Republic of Montenegro. Four years ago, on 3 April 2003, the then President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Mr Peter Schieder, welcomed, where I stand today, the state union of Serbia and Montenegro to join the Council of Europe. So, in welcoming Montenegro today I am, in a way, saying "Welcome back!".
Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly added that the first thing to observe is that the transformation of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro into two separate countries went smoothly, democratically and in perfect peacefulness. The referendum in 2006 took place in free and fair conditions and the result was readily accepted by Serbia, and by those Montenegrins who had voted against separate statehood.
Furthermore, the request for, and process of, the accession of Montenegro to the Council of Europe also went smoothly as far as the Parliamentary Assembly was concerned. The three Rapporteurs on behalf of the Assembly's Political Affairs Committee, its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and its Monitoring Committee, received all the information they asked for and were thus able to jointly prepare their opinion as adopted by the Assembly on 17 April this year - an opinion in which the Assembly pronounced itself in favour of the accession while also presenting a number of requirements which the highest authorities of Montenegro have made their full commitment to meet.