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Prime Minister Đukanović’s speech on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Montenegro’s independence…
Milo Đukanović, PRIME MINISTER OF MONTENEGRO:
(Ceremony speech regarding tenth anniversary of Montenegro’s independence, Podgorica, 21 May 2016)
Honorable citizens of Podgorica, honorable citizens of Montenegro:
Happy Jubilee, happy Independence Day!
Honorable President of the European Council Mr Tusk,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The tenth anniversary of independence and international recognition of Montenegro is a major holiday in our country with millennial tradition and glorious history. We are filled with pride and satisfaction about the way we renewed our country on 21 May 2006. It is not often, in the Balkans in particular, that people peacefully resolve so complex State issues. Therefore, this date is one of the most important dates in the whole of Montenegrin, and perhaps Balkan history. Time has confirmed my words spoken at this square before the referendum that in Montenegro there will be no defeated ones, that we will all be winners. That confirms all successes that Montenegro has made during the first decade of its independent road. Awakened self-respect through rectifying injustice that we suffered in 1918, and renewed national and State dignity, were strong impetus of strengthening stability on the multi-ethnic and multi-religious foundations, and building a new institutional architecture by the European standards. Therefore, 21 May a decade ago was a milestone from which we measure the steps of our European future. First ten years of renewed independence during the turbulent acceleration of history.
Nevertheless, this is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the dramatic temptations that then stood in front of Montenegro. The international community was not in favor of the idea of independence. Terms of the referendum were unfairly defined. The official Belgrade policy, at that time, did everything to keep Montenegro in the State Union. Even in Montenegro, alongside political structures that opposed the breakup with Serbia, among the Independents was a certain degree of disappointment that the referendum was not held sooner and disbelief in the sincerity and determination of the authorities to bring the process to an end. However, we managed – through constructive cooperation with the EU and friends on all sides of the world – to provide an understanding of our right to democratically choose our future, and recognition of the referendum results. This is an opportunity to thank them on that today.
Montenegrin referendum was, in fact, the final act of a long and complex process of awakening and emancipation of Montenegrin politics and Montenegrin society as a whole. The challenges and threats which Montenegro has been exposed to in the last decade of the last century and in the first years of this century consolidated determination to rebuild independence. The block for independent Montenegro, based on the trust in the democratic way of country’s renewal,encouraged the spirit of freedom and faith in victory. He brought together all the pro-independence forces in Montenegro and became a powerful cohesion factor of its population worldwide. Confidence is awakened, libertarian and State-building tradition is strengthened, patriotic emotions are ignited. I believe that historians and those who shall study the dramatic and specific Montenegrin experience of these fifteen years shall recognise that the foundations of the restoration of independence are set in the years after the deviation of open opposition to the nationalistic and war policy of the top of the former common State. Montenegro has turned – with a lot of risk and internal resistance – to itself, its national interests, bringing a bold decision to take responsibility for its future. With today’s hindsight one can with certainty say that the year 1999 was crucial for the selection of the independent Montenegrin road. Such importance gave her strength to make a decision not to accept self-destructive conflict with the NATO Alliance, as well as another decision, made a few months later, on the introduction of the Deutsche Mark as means of payment in Montenegro. Our nation has reaffirmed its size and the size of Montenegro when, under direct threat of war, received and protected over 120,000 refugees. All that followed has strengthened the capacity of Montenegro and its political leadership with prudent and wise policy to accept and participate in the statehood arrangements that have proved to be useful intermediate stations towards full independence.
In these complex times, therefore, we were able to articulate our national and state interests and guided by historical liberties to win the right to our own choice, and to define the strategic vision of the European future of Montenegro.
Today, summarising the results of the first ten years, we can proudly say that Montenegro is a reliable factor of stability in the region, and that it leads on the path of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. We have developed, in the meantime, the institutions that are necessary for the European country in this century, and significantly reformed inherited ones from Yugoslav time. Historical experience tells us that institutions are foundation and guarantee of State’s duration, and reliable support of the rule of law as the most important precondition for democratic and economic development of any society. Two days ago the Accession Protocol with NATO is signed. We believe that the process of ratification and accession of Montenegro to the Alliance will be completed in the short term. The size and importance of this historical and civilisational outreach does not diminish the awareness of the need for further improvement of our security, and the overall legal and political system, which NATO assumes and demands. Likewise, the need to contribute to the peace and stability in the region, and to the cooperation with our traditional friends. The readiness to continue reforms and the establishment of the full rule of law is our obligation and in the demanding process of accession negotiations with the EU. The content and pace of these negotiations confirm the potentials of the Montenegrin society and institutions of the system, and the capacities to respond to increasingly demanding challenges on the EU path. The road is long and complex, but we pass new shares with enthusiasm, encouraged by what has been achieved in a relatively short period. We hope that all the current processes and challenges that the EU faces today will open new opportunities and prospects for our accession to the EU in the foreseeable future. Because the path of Montenegro is a European path of development.
I especially want to point out that Montenegro is responsibly dedicated to the preservation and improvement of good neighbourly relations. Our neighbours are our friends. Such national strategy is based on the finest Montenegrin traditions. We are very proud of the fact that Montenegro’s contribution to regional stability significantly exceeds its geographic and population size.
The aforementioned successes have support in economic development and the progress that Montenegro made in the first decade of its independence. All indicators are positive and very encouraging: the pace of GDP increase, as well as the salaries and pensions; employment growth; inflow of foreign direct investments; the speed of convergence with the European level of development; poverty reduction and the extension of life span… The special value of the results in this area gives the fact that they are achieved in the years of devastating economic and financial crisis in Europe and the world, from whose limitations logically suffers also the Montenegrin economy. On the other hand, we are aware that our economic and development perspective is burdened with numerous inherited problems and new challenges, from unbalanced regional development to problems of unemployment, especially of young people with college degrees. Therefore, improving the quality of education, one of the crucial preconditions of a dynamic democratic, economic and overall development of the State, is actually the question of our future.
A decade of independence is an opportunity to take a serious look at our political reality. Montenegrin divisions are still current. They are inherited, maintained, and encouraged for decades. Therefore, today it seems more convincing that the referendum on independence was a very beneficial impulse to the political development of the Montenegrin society. Because of our results we are today proud of what would not have been possible without responsible acceptance of the referendum outcome by all its participants. Therefore, these are joint successes of the entire Montenegrin society. I believe that this experience can be an important part of the foundation and the platform on which we will continue to patiently and wisely develop mutual trust and build social consensus. Because we all share an interest to consolidate the stability of our common State home through cooperation. Also, we are interested to promote freedom in Montenegro, develop democracy and civil society and strong institutions and the rule of law. Also, together we need to commit ourselves to the use of available resources in a sustainable manner, developing Montenegro at maximum possible rate, and thinking responsibly about the future generations. I believe that these are the issues on which it is possible to continue the process of integration of the Montenegrin society. Over the past decade we have stepped out in that direction. This is confirmed by the fact that from nearly half of the strongly homogenised opponents of Montenegrin independence in 2006, today in our country is no more than ten percent of those who are trapped in that time. I believe that we all will use the time ahead of us to rebuild the broken bridges, to establish trust in the common good of Montenegro and all its citizens. Resistances that now we find and processes through which the Montenegrin society goes are not our specificity. Never throughout history has been easy to make civilisational deviations from historical stereotypes, especially in the Balkans. Insofar are our successes bigger. Not only that we renewed statehood by peaceful means, but we are building a modern state that has its own secure place in the modern European civilisation. We established our national course in the European direction, but we need to make additional efforts to constantly expand our support to people who know how to appreciate and respect themselves, their history, and their country.
21 May 2006 showed that all major Montenegrin victims throughout history have not been in vain. The foundations of the modern State are deeply rooted in the glorious Battle of Mojkovac, in the anti-fascist, European unique 13 July uprising in 1941 and the joint anti-fascist struggle of the Yugoslav people in World War II and post-war development, as well as in the historic “No” in 1948… This could be the lead lesson of the first decade of Montenegro’s independence: neither the Montenegrin State could be renewed on different foundations; nor Montenegro could survive on any other support. Therefore, we do not care about efforts challenging the Montenegrin statehood coming even these days by the same people who ten years ago were against the restoration of independence. Montenegro has grown to oppose the undermining of its national foundations and has developed so that Mojkovac in 1916, and yet by no means Dubrovnik in 1991 do not happen again.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The first decade of the restoration of independence is the moment when we celebrate our country, our history, our culture, remembering the prominent and famous personalities who, through the centuries of Montenegrin national and State-building experience, laid the foundations of Montenegro. With special reverence and respect we remember the heroes of our past who dedicated and sacrificed their lives to preserve the ray of Montenegrin freedom, statehood and independence, as well as all people in Montenegro, and in the Diaspora, from the first day, and all these years, who persisted in the project of reconstruction and modernisation of our country.
Their endeavors and personal examples will always remind us of the need that praising Montenegro, its freedom and independence, we never forget that independence must be kept, nurtured, and promoted.
Therefore, our celebration of Independence Day and the celebration of the first decade of the restoration of our state independence is actually a reminder that Montenegro’s independence is our greatest obligation.
May Montenegro live forever!
Source: Government of Montenegro