Stoltenberg for DN: Montenegro in NATO a winning combination for Europe too

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General secretary of NATO Jens Stoltenberg said that Montenegro has made great progress when it comes to rule of law, including the fight against organized crime and corruption.

In an interview given to Dnevne newspaper, first man of the Alliance Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that accession to NATO is not the end of a journey for Montenegro, but a beginning of a new phase.

DN: Mister Stoltenberg, what are the chances of Montenegro signing the Accession protocol with the Alliance in May and when can we expect a full membership in NATO as the 29th member?

STOLTENBERG: We are expecting that ministers of foreign affairs of the Alliance will sign a Protocol for accession of Montenegro to NATO during the ministers’ meeting that will take place in NATO headquarters in Brussels on 19th and 20th of May. After this, it all depends on national parliaments of all 28 countries which have to ratify this protocol. I don’t know exactly how long this process will take, last time an expansion happened it took around a year for the whole process.

DN: The main issues are rule of law, fight against the organized crime and corruption and public support. Are you satisfied with results that our country made in these areas?

STOLTENBERG: Montenegro has made great progress when it comes to rule of law, including the fight against organized crime and corruption. New laws were brought and new structures prepared. Emphasis is now on implementation. Gora je ostvarila veliki napredak u oblasti vladavine prava, uključujući borbu protiv organizovanog kriminala i korupcije. Novi zakoni su uspostavljeni i nove strukture pripremljene. Naglasak je sada na implementaciji. Process of accession to NATO is not the end of a journey for Montenegro, but a beginning of a new phase. Considering the strong commitment that Montenegro has shown when it comes to these issues I am convinced that it will continue with necessary efforts.

DN: Research has shown that public’s support to Montenegro’s membershim in NATO is growing. What is the percentage of support that satisfies the Alliance’s criteria?

STOLTENBERG: NATO is a democratic alliance. Matter of NATO membership is of national interest. That is why it is important that Montenegrin public is well informed about responsibilities, but also benefits that arise from NATO membership. From a country that is joining NATO we are expecting a solid level of public support in that country. It is now government’s responsibility to show why the NATO way is the right way.

DN: A news was recently published that for the first time since 2014 a meeting between NATO and Russia will happen. Do you expect that Russia could have issues with further expansion of NATO?

STOLTENBERG: When it comes to process of Montenegro’s accession to NATO and Russia’s opinion on this I have to emphasize that this is strictly an issue between NATO and Montenegro. It’s not an issue for the meeting between NATO and Russia. Every country has a right to choose it’s own security arrangements and no third parties should interfere with that.

DN: How much will Montenegro’s accession to NATO contribute to stability of the region?

STOLTENBERG: Expansion of NATO alliance is nurturing stability and security in Europe and this brings us closer to Europe which is united, free and peaceful. Joining the Euroatlantic family is a winning ticket for Montenegro, balkans and NATO.

DN: How much is the stability of the Balkans endangered by recent geopolitical events and refugee crisis happening at Europe’s doors?

STOLTENBERG: Countries that joined the Alliance have the possibility of strengthening their democracies, increasing security and make lives of their citizens safer. Membership in NATO strengthens the sovereignity of the country.

Source: Cafe Del Montenegro