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Prime Minister Milo Đukanović: “I am pleased to see that the Atlantic Council as the host, under the auspices of the Government of Montenegro, continues the good tradition of holding this significant event. During its six years, the 2BS has received recognition in the region and beyond, as an important platform open for constructive exchanges on security and political issues relevant for our region, for the rest of Europe and the Euro-Atlantic area…”
MILO ĐUKANOVIĆ, PRIME MINISTER OF MONTENEGRO: Keynote address at the 6th 2BS Forum, Budva, 06 May 2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to another To Be Secure Forum, welcome to Budva, to Montenegro. I extend cordial greetings on behalf of the Government and wishes for productive work and a pleasant stay.
I am pleased to see that the Atlantic Council as the host, under the auspices of the Government of Montenegro, continues the good tradition of holding this significant event. During its six years, the 2BS has received recognition in the region and beyond, as an important platform open for constructive exchanges on security and political issues relevant for our region, for the rest of Europe and the Euro-Atlantic area. High level participants certainly contribute to its success. Again this year we have the privilege of hosting a large number of high officials and distinguished representatives of our neighbouring countries, of the NATO, the EU and the USA, that we recognise as our true and tested partners and friends. The secret of our success lies in the fact that our neighbours, partners and friends do understand and support our ambitions and aspirations; appreciate our reform efforts; and respect Montenegro’s contribution to the promotion of democratic values and principles.
Even before having restored our independence, we had a clear vision of being a part of the European and Euro-Atlantic families; of building relations with our neighbours based on mutual respect and trust, and shared interests. While opening this event last year, I expressed our hope that in 2016 Montenegro would host you as a country invited to membership, already well advanced on the accession path to the Alliance. I know you share our joy of having achieved that goal. Some ten days from now, at the Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Montenegro will sign the Accession Protocol with NATO, which will raise considerably the level of our mutual cooperation.
This year’s Forum will table some of the burning issues regarding Euro-Atlantic security. Terrorism, religious radicalism, migrations, cybercrime, energy security, climate change are but a few of daily challenges faced by Europe and world at large. The old and the new hotspots are a latent threat to global peace. Such a wide range of topics only confirms that the diversity and complexity of today’s challenges is greater than it has been the case in the last several decades. Recent most tragic terrorist attacks in Brussels and in Paris late last year are a painful warning proving how even the most developed and progressive countries in the heart of Europe are vulnerable to such threats. The refugee crisis, a predominant concern of European and other countries for a while now and an unavoidable topic on the agenda of global leaders, whose consequences directly affect our region as well, is the most vivid confirmation of how easily global problems can pop up in our backyards. In today’s world, no one can survive alone, or allow isolation. These are the issues affecting us all and we all have to assume our share of responsibility in addressing them.
Montenegro understands it well. We have always strived to be a constructive part of the solution, using political means to pursue our goals. We have shown it these days again internally through the dialogue of the government and the opposition on putting in place the assumptions to increase public trust in the election process. We see it as a great democratic victory of Montenegro. We are aware that today’s trends place an ever greater emphasis on joint collective actions. In this light, we wish to be a reliable partner and an actor in all fora, whether in regional or wider international frameworks, such as NATO, EU, OSCE, UN… We opted for the NATO and EU integration processes as the linchpin of our foreign policy, believing it to be a reasonable choice for a small Balkan country, such as Montenegro, and a path leading to sustained and durable stability, security and prosperity.
On May 21, Montenegro will celebrate a great anniversary – ten years since the popular vote where majority of our citizens made the choice of restoring our independence. A country of thousand-year-old tradition. Montenegrin example is a showcase for the turbulent Balkans. Our own experience has greatly helped us steady our state policy course. We are very proud of the peaceful, democratic and transparent manner in which we renewed our independence a decade ago. We are proud of having avoided the atrocities during the war turbulences of the 1990s, such as our history is laden with. Anniversaries are always a good opportunity to look back and sum up the achievements. And we can rightfully be proud of what we have made over this relatively brief period. Even more so given that this was not a path covered in rose petals. We faced great many challenges which have never made us lose our resolution or discouraged us. We are, however, aware that the real challenges are yet to come, but this does not scare us, on the contrary. The encouragements, like the invitation to join NATO, motivate us to continue with our reform efforts without losing the momentum.
By signing the Accession Protocol, Montenegro will be brought a step closer to a fully-fledged membership. At the same time, it will be a beginning of the process of ratification by the allies. Montenegro will continue to be committed to meeting the remaining obligations regarding the rule of law, increasing public support, and to serious preparations in military and defence capabilities for the membership to the Alliance. I am convinced that the allies will recognise this, as they have done so far, and not stall the Protocol ratification process, to lead Montenegro to a fully-fledged NATO membership by this time next year. Meanwhile, we will have the opportunity to take part in the work of all bodies of the Alliance. At the Warsaw Summit, which will discuss the most relevant issues for Euro-Atlantic security at the highest level, Montenegro will be sitting at the same table for the first time, as an invited country. No need to explain how important it is for any country, let alone a country like Montenegro, to be among major decision-makers. This is an opportunity to finally take the destiny in our hands and ensure that some episodes from both more distant and more recent past never happen again. Against this backdrop, I believe that the invitation to join NATO is one of Montenegro’s most significant achievements over the past decade.
I am convinced that NATO membership will give wind to our sails also on our EU accession path. We have achieved enviable results in our negotiation talks. We opened 22 chapters, two of which have been provisionally closed, and 8 more are in the pipeline. We are constantly engaged in pursuing comprehensive reforms towards transforming and aligning our system with the European standards. Being half-way in NATO can only help. Although not identical, the EU and NATO accession processes are very much correlated and in many respects complementary. Both organisations share, by far, the same sets of values and principles, linked by common goals, and to a large extent the same membership. The rule of law is at the heart of both processes. The results we have achieved in this area have been decisive for our success in integration processes.
Moreover, I am convinced that Montenegro’s membership to NATO will contribute greatly to regional stability, and to that of Europe. Historically, it has been the case with all previous NATO enlargements, particularly following the fall of the Berlin Wall. I believe that the ‘open door’ policy is of no lesser importance today. As a future member, Montenegro will strive for NATO door to remain open for all countries aspiring to membership. The Balkans are still an “unfinished business”, but with evident positive trends, that need constant encouragement because there is no stability in the Balkans, and by extension in Europe, without full integration of the Western Balkans in European and Euro-Atlantic structures. We understand that the EU is reconsidering the current model, consolidating, dealing with difficult issues threatening its external borders… Regardless such priorities, it should be borne in mind at all times that there can be no European stability or competitiveness without Europe being united around this goal. The Berlin process has raised new hope for the Western Balkans, which is in need of a well-thought-through, comprehensive European strategy. Any alternative to integration brings us back to the past and threatens the democratic achievements made so far. The decision to invite Montenegro to join is thus seen as a major step towards achieving the vision of Integral, Free and Peaceful Europe. Many challenges today threaten to undermine this vision, but it is important to continue pursuing it.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The fact that there is no stable Europe without stable Balkans has been proven only recently in the context of the refugee crisis and the Western Balkan route, which has reminded us all of the strategically important geopolitical position of the countries in this region as guardians of the external borders to the European Union. The role the countries of the region play in overall global counter-terrorism efforts and addressing the issue of foreign fighters and returnees is not negligible, either. It is commendable that the Western Balkan countries are active in this field as well within the regional framework of joint activities in implementing the counter-terrorism policy, supported by the EU and other international partners. Montenegro, together with its neighbours, takes part in these efforts. In addition, we continue contributing to the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh. Internally, we have adopted the necessary strategic documents and established institutional and legal frameworks to prevent and counter terrorism. As regards migrations, we follow pertinent EU policies. Although Montenegro was not directly exposed to refugee influx, we have undertaken the necessary measures to be properly prepared in case of need. Let me remind you that during the conflicts in former Yugoslavia refugees accounted for 20% of the total population of Montenegro. Hence, we understand only too well the issues faced by Europe today. As this year’s chair to the Migration, Asylum and Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI), we use that path also to promote regional approach in effective response to migratory security challenges.
I believe that NATO membership will open new opportunities for our country’s even more active engagement in seeking responses to some of the shared challenges. We do not see membership as a one-way process, where only Montenegro stands to benefit. Quite the opposite. We are aware of the obligations coming with it and stand ready to assume our share of responsibility. The same way we see our role within the EU, and in particular within the region, where we strive to enhance security and promote constructive cooperation.
I have tried to briefly touch upon some of the topics you will be discussing today and tomorrow, and present Montenegro’s position in reference to these. The events of this kind are a god opportunity to get together, share experiences and exchange views on how to respond to the most relevant security challenges. And the challenges are of such magnitude to require more dialogue, collective efforts and well-concerted actions than ever before. I am confident that Montenegro, through this forum, gives its contribution in this respect, just like we endeavour to be a constructive and trusted partner in all other regional or global fora.
I wish you successful and fruitful work and a pleasant stay in Montenegro.
Thank you for your attention.
Source: Government of Montenegro