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Reuters: Montenegro became 192nd member of United Nations

Published date: 29.06.2006 14:58 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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Montenegro became 192nd member of United Nations

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Montenegro on Wednesday became the 192nd member of the United Nations, a month after it ended its 88-year partnership with Serbia that completed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

"I declare the Republic of Montenegro admitted to membership in the United Nations," U.N. General Assembly President Jan Eliasson announced after calling for approval by acclamation in the 191-nation body.

General Assembly members then broke into applause as the Balkan country's president, Filip Vujanovic, Foreign Minister Miodrag Vlahovic and U.N. envoy Nebojsa Kaludjerovic were escorted to their new seats, next to the Mongolian delegation.

"I am confident that Montenegro will strive for good neighborly relations and strong regional cooperation in the western Balkans, thus promoting stability in an area struck by conflict in the recent past," Eliasson said.

The resolution accepting Montenegro as a member was introduced by Austria's U.N. ambassador, Gerhard Pfanzelter, whose country currently heads the 25-member European Union.

Montenegro has about 650,000 people, compared to Serbia's population of 7.5 million, with a landscape of forested mountains and a sparkling Adriatic coast destined for a tourism boom.

It declared independence from Serbia on June 3, after a referendum passed by a slim margin on May 21.

The U.N. seat previously assigned to Serbia and Montenegro is now in Serbia's hands. The last country to join the United Nations was East Timor, in September 2002.

After Serbia's U.N. envoy congratulated Montenegro, Vujanovic said he particularly wanted to develop close cooperation with Belgrade "in all spheres of common interest reflecting our social and historic ties."

"Montenegro has been very proud of its multiethnic and multireligious harmony, as one of its fundamental values, recognizable both in a regional and broader international context," Vujanovic said.

After the General Assembly plenary, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Eliasson and the Montenegro delegation went to the front lawn of the U.N. complex to raise Montenegro's red flag bearing a gold coat of arms.

Montenegro has been recognized by the United States, the EU, Russia and many other countries. U.N. membership means acceptance of Montenegro as an independent nation by nearly all countries in the world.

Montenegro is the last of former Yugoslavia's constituent republics to leave the orbit of Serbia, after Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia split during the bloody Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Its decision restores the independent status it gave up at the end of World War One when Yugoslavia was formed. Separation from Serbia, its closest ally, ends a long partnership of two peoples sharing the same language, religion and culture.

(Additional reporting by Ljubinka Cagorovic in Podgorica)