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European Parliament: Montenegro's Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic at the EP, 23 July

Published date: 25.06.2008 18:36 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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Montenegro PM Milo Djukanovic hopeful of a European Union future
External relations - 24-06-2008 - 15:56

The aim of Montenegro is to be ready to join the European Union by 2012. That was the goal Montenegro's PM Milo Djukanovic spelled out to MEPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee Monday. The former basketball player has led the former ex-Yugoslav state since 1991 and championed the successful "Yes" vote in a referendum on independence in 2006. We caught up with Mr Djukanovic and asked him about Montenegro's EU hopes, Kosovo and why the country is happy using the euro.
Montenegro became independent just 2 years ago. Why do you want to join the EU now? How can the EU help you solve your problems?

At the time when we were struggling to become independent we were saying very clearly that we wanted to take charge of our future, which we have always known lies in Europe.

Why do we want to be part of the EU? It is simply because we share the same values. It is not, as it might seem, that a small state like ours wants to get something from pre-accession funds. We believe in our own capacity.

What would the EU membership mean for the whole region?

We want Montenegro and the entire Western Balkans to be part of the security, political and economic system of the EU. In the Balkans we have cyclically had crises including the most recent one. That is why it is in the best interests not only of the countries of the West Balkans but of the EU too to have these countries in the Union.

What will Montenegro bring to the EU?

Everyone brings something special and so will Montenegro - even a state as small as ours can enrich a union which is already as rich as the EU. A value that we are proud of - particularly having in mind the regional context - is multiculturalism. It has not always been regarded as an asset in the region that we live in but as a handicap in the decade that started in 1990. That is why for such a long time we had fanatical religious wars there.

Though Montenegro is the smallest state in the region, it has managed to preserve peace, strengthen its multiethnic harmony, win the confidence of the international community and of foreign investors and develop very dynamically. The natural beauty of Montenegro is that we have an extremely beautiful Adriatic coast with a picturesque hinterland, high mountains, deep canyons and big lakes.

Was Montenegro an example and or a precedent for Kosovo? How do you see Kosovos future? Is a normalisation of relations with Serbia possible?

It is inevitable. Sooner or later Serbia has to come to terms with the policy mistakes that it has made during a number of decades. Regrettably there was no readiness on either side for an agreed solution, so what followed was a declaration of independence by Kosovo. Many important member states of the EU and the international community as a whole have already recognised Kosovo so I do not believe that any serious person would like the wheel of history to go back.

We are acting rather cautiously for two reasons. The first is that we are a neighbour of both Kosovo and Serbia, so we should help rather than feed fuel to the fire by making rush moves. The second is that we have been independent for only two years now and we have achieved this independence by leaving the Union with Serbia. Our independence has left some traumas on the Serbia-Montenegro relationship.

Why does Montenegro de facto use euro notes and coins?

The Milosevic regime tried to tackle economic problems by printing worthless money without our knowledge. At some point we decided to protect ourselves and introduced the Deutschmark on Montenegros territory. Later the Deutschmark was replaced in Germany and indirectly we also became users of euro. This does not mean that we are in European monetary union although we are taking a very responsible attitude towards the use of euro.

We have seen huge benefits from having euro. Firstly, its good that we have abandoned any illusion that you can live and thrive on inflation which was characteristic in ex-Yugoslavia. And secondly, we are much more attractive for foreign investors because European investors are using their own currency.