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European Union candidate member Montenegro will fight corruption as called for by Brussels but current government members are unlikely to face prosecution, the new prime minister said on Friday.
"No one will remain in the shade and out of the reach of the prosecutor's office," Igor Luksic said in his first interview with the foreign media since taking office last month. "So anything they think is appropriate to do, they will be free to do and that is the message they will receive from me.
"Every institution in Montenegro should do their own job, and that's why we are equipping them to do their own job from the legal point of view, from the administrative point of view, from the equipment point of view," he told Reuters.
But, asked if current or past government members might one day face charges, Luksic said: "I don't see a case ...(where) any member of the government would deserve to go before the prosecutor's office. I just don't believe in many stories that I hear and I treat them rather as gossip."
In its annual report issued in November, the European Commission was outspoken about the problem of corruption in the country of 670,000 people with a rugged Adriatic coastline.
"Montenegro has largely put in place the legal and institutional framework needed for combating corruption," the report said. "However, corruption remains prevalent in many areas and constitutes a particularly serious problem."
Luksic, 34, was finance minister of the former Yugoslav republic before being handpicked by longtime Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to succeed him. Luksic has a PhD in economics and is highly regarded by Podgorica-based diplomats.
Corruption is a widespread scourge in the emerging Balkans, and a continuing area of focus in the EU accession process.
Italian prosecutors in the past have sought the arrest of Djukanovic, 48, who stepped down as prime minister in December, on tobacco smuggling and money-laundering charges. The small country's dominant political figure for two decades, Djukanovic remains the head of Montenegro's main political party.
Croatia, which hopes to join the EU by early 2013, issued an arrest warrant for a former prime minister which led to his arrest in Austria on suspicion of graft last month. Last week, an Albanian deputy premier quit amid corruption allegations.
Luksic said he would continue to seek the advice of Djukanovic and others, but ultimately decide for himself.
"I am in charge. I will always, when I find it necessary, consult with many people ... But I would not accept doing this job if I have to bear all the responsibility and the decisions are made somewhere else."
Source Reuters - Balkans.com.
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