At the same time, in the past decade we secured valuable integration and development success. Montenegro is in the process of ratifying its NATO membership, but has also opened 22 chapters on membership negotiations in the EU and has closed two of them before the deadline. There has been growth in gross domestic product of 70 per cent, employment has increased by 9.8%, the average salary is up 70 per cent and pensions are 100 per cent higher.
The signing of the Protocol on the Accession of Montenegro to NATO is the finale of the very complex and demanding process of Euro-Atlantic integration, which represents great recognition for Montenegro’s success in attaining NATO standards. In just one month, the Accession Protocol has been ratified by the parliaments of seven NATO member states, which also refers to the expectation of good pace of membership ratification. Euro-Atlantic integration is proclaimed as our integration preference in the Constitution of Montenegro and in the Declaration of an independent Republic of Montenegro from 3rd June 2006, and based on the need for permanent security, economic and political benefits and the acceleration of European integration. Of the 28 EU member states, 22 are members of NATO, nine out of every ten EU citizens live in NATO states, so it is natural that membership in NATO means additional encouragement to EU membership.
The past decade was marked by the strong progress of Montenegro on its path towards the European Union, based on the foreign policy orientation of Montenegro and its commitment to European and Euro-Atlantic integrations
I see Russia’s opposition to NATO enlargement as an example of relations between Russia and NATO and a consequence of the geopolitical context. Our constitutional preferences are European and Euro-Atlantic integrations, and we have always been clear about that to everyone, including our friends from Moscow. The existing geopolitical framework and its sensitivity have caused the current attitude of Russia, which I expect to change through a shift in that same framework and new relations between Russia and NATO. I am convinced that we should be extremely patient and that we will be able to preserve the traditional relationship with Russia as well as gaining membership in NATO.
I am a fan of committing to attaining EU standards without burdening ourselves with its internal relations. Regardless of sensitive issues within the EU, our goal should be to achieve the standards of the EU. We should use the accession process for our reform and also take advantage of joint action, particularly in the improvement of transport and energy infrastructure. Through the Brdo Brioni initiative and the Berlin process, we have a clearly designed package of support for infrastructure projects in the Western Balkans, with donations secured and the certainty of tangibility confirmed at the Paris meeting of EU and Western Balkan countries.
It is often debated, whether the Western Balkan might be a source of instability and therefore not a very welcomed part of the EU family. I am convinced that the countries of the region are not threatened by political instability. However, there are undoubtedly sensitive and open-ended issues that require full commitment, open and constructive dialogue and regional cooperation to consolidate and promote regional stability.
We are proud of the fact that we don’t have open issues with any of our neighbours and that there are many possibilities for cooperation with all of our neighbours. In this regard, of course, I am not forgetting the question of Prevlaka, but in this area we have a temporary regime that has worked flawlessly since December 2002. However, this question does not burden our relations, but rather, on the contrary, it confirms our good neighbourly relations. With Kosovo we affirm good relations in all areas, and the agreement on the border showed that we were able to agree on an important and sensitive issue without international mediation.
We are proud of the fact that we don’t have open issues with any of our neighbours and that there are many possibilities for cooperation with all of our neighbours
When it comes to relations with Serbia I experience them as being close, meaningful and friendly. I have always said and I will repeat – with Serbia we must have closest relations and be an example of intimacy in the international community. We are tied together by many values of shared history, many close things in the present and commonalities in many ways in our vision for the future. I am convinced that mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs, the affirmation of closeness and understanding of diversity, secure precisely such a relationship between these two friendly countries. That is undoubtedly in the interest of all citizens of both countries, and whoever is responsible for state policy should bear this in mind.
In my recent constructive meeting with Serbian President Nikolić in Sarajevo during the Summit Initiative Brdo Brioni, we noted the closeness of our countries and citizens, affirming the need to respect the similarities and differences with the necessity of improving cooperation, especially in the economic sphere, and within it the improvement of transport and energy infrastructure.
Last but not the least, let me say something about the upcoming parliamentary elections in Montenegro, planned for October. I am certain that the elections will pass in a democratic atmosphere. Part of the opposition entered the Government with the intention of participating in the preparation of free and fair elections, gaining the possibility to create an environment for credible elections in ministries, state bodies and institutions and local governments. At the same time, they are participating in all government activities, with adequate media coverage and overall promotion of these activities. Thereby conditions are being created for the acceptance of the election results and the formation of a government with full credibility.