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EU Warns Montenegro After Reporter Shot, Wounded

Johannes Hahn, the European enlargement commissioner meets with Montenegrin journalist Olivera Lakic in Podgorica on May 11.

The European Union has warned Montenegro that its efforts to join the bloc will suffer a setback unless it does more to protect journalists and media freedom.

EU Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn made the statement on May 11 after meeting with Olivera Lakic, a crime and corruption reporter for the Vijesti daily.

Lakic was shot and wounded outside her home in the capital, Podgorica, on May 9.

The shooting was "clearly an attack on media freedom, on freedom of expression, one of the core values of the European Union," Hahn said.

Hahn Says Attack On Journalist May 'Hamper' Montenegro's EU Hopes
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"This is a negative track record; I am looking for a positive track record," Hahn told journalists after the meeting.

"This has an impact on the standing and reputation of the country...[It] is on our radar screen and we expect a proper investigation," Hahn told reporters.

"If there is no progress on all this, sustainable progress on which we can rely, this will definitely hamper the European perspective of Montenegro."

Montenegro, a small ex-Yugoslav republic on the Adriatic Sea, joined NATO last year and is seeking EU membership. It is considered one of the most likely aspirant EU members in the region,but it must root out widespread corruption and organized crime.

In a separate recent attack, a bomb exploded outside the home of another investigative journalist in northern Montenegro. Many similar attacks and threats remain unresolved.

Critics have accused the long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of failures in curbing organized crime, corruption and hobbling democratic reforms.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP