“I deeply regret the victims of bombing”

Joining the Euro-Atlantic family would be a win-win for Montenegro and the Alliance, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday (11 June 2015) during a visit to Podgorica.

The Secretary General and Prime Minister Milo Đjukanović discussed progress on required reforms concerning Montenegro’s NATO membership bid. “NATO Allies decided to open a period of intensified and focused talks with Montenegro and our Foreign Ministers will assess progress in December. They will decide whether enough progress has been made to invite Montenegro to join the Alliance. So we are in a crucial phase,” the Secretary General said.

He stressed that it was now important that Montenegro stays the course on reforms, “that it demonstrates that it is ready to become a valuable member of the Alliance.” The two leaders discussed support for democratic institutions, the rule of law, and increasing public support for NATO membership. NATO opened intensified talks with Montenegro last year on the nation’s membership action plan.

Mr. Stoltenberg said that nations that have joined the Alliance “have strengthened their democracy, improved their security, made the lives of their citizens safer and they have made NATO stronger.” He added: “enlargement has been a historic success, bringing stability and security to Europe.” Urging Montenegro to stay the course on reforms, Mr. Stoltenberg concluded, “integration is not an easy path: it demands real and strong commitment, and it demands real change, but it can be done and Montenegro is making real progress.” In addition, Mr Stoltenberg thanked Prime Minister Đjukanović for providing financial and operational support for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, saying: “Montenegro makes a valuable contribution to international security and to regional cooperation.”

Speaking about the NATO bombing, the Secretary General said that the loss of innocent lives during the 1999 was a tragedy.
“The loss of all those lives in ’99 in NATO bombing of Yugoslavia is a tragedy and I really deeply regret everything that happened. On this occasion, I express my condolences to all families and all those who lost their loved ones. The purpose and aim of the NATO air operation was also to protect civilians, and we succeeded. We have made every effort that was possible to prevent the loss of innocent civilian lives … Unfortunately, in this particular case we could not avoid civilian casualties. I regret that sincerely. The aim of the operation was certainly to establish peace, ” NATO Secretary General said.

The Secretary General also met with President Filip Vujanović and Speaker of the Parliament Ranko Krivokapić, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Duško Marković, Foreign Minister Igor Lukšić and Minister of Defence Milica Pejanović Djurišić during his visit.

Izvor: RTV Montenegro