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Southeast European Times: Montenegrin Foreign Minister Seeks to Boost Regional Ties

Published date: 09.12.2004 18:44 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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Montenegrin Foreign Minister Miodrag Vlahovic's visits to Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina last month focused on the need for closer co-operation between the former Yugoslav countries.

Seeking to boost ties, Montenegrin Foreign Minister Miodrag Vlahovic paid a series of visits to neighbouring countries last month. His itinerary took him to Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In Zagreb, Vlahovic offered Croatians an apology for the destruction suffered in their country during the conflicts of the 1990s. He described the participation of Montenegrin soldiers in the fighting as an "unfortunate, tormenting matter" that people in the republic have acknowledged and condemned.
Croatian Foreign Minister Miomir Zuzul, who met with Vlahovic during the visit, stressed the importance of focusing on the present and looking ahead to the future. He said Croatia fully understands the interests and goals of Montenegro, adding that Zagreb supports the EU aspirations of all countries in the region.
A Croatian consulate in Podgorica will be opened in the near future, Zuzul said. In Slovenia, Vlahovic met with former Foreign Minister Ivo Vajgl. They discussed co-operation between Slovenia and Montenegro, the situation in Southeast Europe, the legal status of the two constituent republics of Serbia and Montenegro, and the activities of multilateral organisations, with particular emphasis on the EU and the OSCE.
It is crucial to discuss regional matters with his counterparts from Slovenia since they will take over the OSCE presidency next year, Vlahovic said, adding that Montenegro and Slovenia share common views on many unresolved issues in the region. For his part, Vajgl said it is important for Slovenia to acquire firsthand information on relations between Serbia and Montenegro, since these are a factor of regional stability.
While in Ljubljana, Vlahovic also made a speech about Montenegro and the Euro-Atlantic community to an audience of diplomats, media representatives and noted public and cultural figures. The event was organised by the Association for International Relations and the Atlantic Council of Slovenia.
During his trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vlahovic paid tribute to the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, saying they symbolise unnecessary human suffering and all the crimes that occurred during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. He held talks with the Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanic, the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Adnan Terzic, and others members of the government.
Both Vlahovic and Ivanic said it was of paramount importance to co-operate with the UN tribunal in The Hague and to capture alleged war criminals. Vlahovic expressed his concern that Montenegro might suffer the consequences if Belgrade does not extradite indictees wanted by the tribunal, including former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic.
The foreign ministers also discussed bilateral economic relations. They agreed on the need to complete regional infrastructure projects such as the roads between Foca and Niksic, and between Trebinje and Herceg Novi. Ivanic also pointed out that while the free trade agreement between Montenegro and BiH has resulted in increased trade, there is room for further improvement.

By Antonela Krstovic for Southeast European Times in Podgorica - 09/12/04