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Ask the Government

                               Ask the Government

Prime Minister Marković delivers speech at Munich Security Conference Core Group in Washington

Prime Minister Marković delivers speech at Munich Security Conference Core Group in Washington
Published date 09.05.2017 21:44 | Author PR Service

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DUŠKO MARKOVIĆ, PRIME MINISTER OF MONTENEGRO

Remarks at the Discussion Session on TRANSATLANTIC COOPERATION
Munich Security Conference Core Group
Washington, D.C., 9 May at 02:00 PM

Dear Panelists, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to address you at today's discussion session on Transatlantic Cooperation, together with distinguished colleagues from the United States, Germany and Norway. Also, I am glad to be back at the Munich Security Conference, which is certainly the most prestigious and best known globalsecurity symposium. I had the honor to participate at this year's Conference in Munich, and therefore, on behalf of Montenegro and personally, I owe great appreciation for attention devoted to my country by the Munich Security Conference Foundation, the Chair, Mr. Ischinger, as well as the Core Group, which invited me to today's event.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We were hoping that the end of the Cold War and the intensification of the process of unification of Europe would at the same time mean the cessation of the threat from a renewed armed conflict. There were also some opinions that the historic mission of NATO and the transatlantic community was over with, but now we see that such forecasts were unfounded. The Euro-Atlantic space is faced with new threats and challenges that are more increasingly diverse, more complex and more dangerous than during the Cold War.

The region of the Western Balkans, where I come from, has not been immune to the crises and threats that shook Europe and the World. It has been recognized as unstable throughout the past; namely as the space where political, ethnic, religious, territorial and other tensions escalated to armed conflicts in almost all generations. Today, indeed, the situation is not like that - over the last 15 years, the region has experienced a span of peace, stability and growing commitment of states to integration processes and building of good neighborly relations. However, problems still exist, while certain decline has been noted as of recently.

Russia, which considers the Western Balkans to beits "sphere of interest" is increasingly taking advantage of this situation to deter the region from the integration processes and undermine support for European and Euro-Atlantic values. There are a plethoraof examples of such attempts at destabilization, and Montenegro was unfortunately one of the most obvious – I am sure you have all been informed about the pressure to which we have been exposedover the past two years by Russia, as well as the attempt at terrorist attacks on the election night on 16 October 2016. However, I can proudly say that it was with the enthusiastic and generous support of our Euro-Atlantic allies thatour institutions managed to adequately respond to this threat.

Hence, our security and stability, as well as democratic values that underlie our society are being put to a test. Therefore, orientation of the Alliance to projecting stability beyond its borders and strengthening the focus on anti-terrorist activities has been instrumental and effective.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Strengthening the presence and activities of NATO and the European Union is essential to preventing deterioration of the situation in the Western Balkans and for the region to remain on the path of integration. This is why I am convinced that the Open Door policy, in addition to the partnership policy and cooperative security, must remain the backbone of the NATO activities, as one of the best and most effective ways to promote peace and security. Everywhere, and particularly in our region where a bloody conflict of the 90s was stopped due to the engagement of the Alliance, which is still contributing to the preservation of peace through its presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo. Openness of NATO to cooperate with others who share its values and to admit new Member States has proven to be a powerful mechanism for strengthening stability and democracy, conducive to strengthening of the Alliance and global peace. I am therefore firmly of the view that NATO, as well as the European Union and the United States, ought to remain active and visible in the region.

The integration processes are indispensable to promoting peace and strengthening security, which is confirmed by the example of Montenegro, which as you know, is about to became a NATO Member State. The other day,on the occasion ofpassing of the Bill on Ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty in the Parliament of Montenegro, I rated the event as historic for my country. Let me remind you that Montenegro gained international recognition of its statehood at the Berlin Congress in 1878, as the 27th independent state in the then world. For almost an entire century and a half later, Montenegro has been struggling, more or less successfully, to preserve its independence. We believe that our joining the Alliance, this time as the 29th member of the most powerful alliance in today’s world, poses a definite guarantee of preserving our national sovereignty. Therefore, for my country, this event is - historic!

Montenegro is also a regional leader in European integration and a state that has good relations with all of its neighbors. All of this is the result of persistent, extensive and dedicated work on comprehensive reforms during the first decade since restoration of independence. Membership in NATO, of course,does not mark the end ofreforms –we shall continue with their implementation with undiminished enthusiasm.

As a future member, Montenegro stands ready, in accordance with its capacities, to take on a share of responsibility for strengthening the Alliance, its unity and solidarity. We will continue to increase allocations for defense, in accordance with the Wales standards, because we believe that the readiness to participate in fair burden sharing within NATO is the best proof of the commitment of all towards collective security.

I want to inform you that Montenegro, at the moment, although not yet a member of the Alliance, is on the eighth position regarding the level of defence allocation, about 1.7%, and our plan is to reach the predicted 2% by 2024.

The fact that our state understands very well the position of the other aspirants for membership, especially in the Western Balkans, gives us a unique opportunity to promote the continuity of the "Open Door" policy and Euro-Atlantic values in the regional and broader context. As a new member, Montenegro will pay special attention to that goal.

Thank you for your attention!