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                        Ask the Prime Minister


Prime Minister Marković in interview with US-based Time magazine: Montenegro has no doubt about EU, NATO accession

Prime Minister Marković in interview with US-based Time magazine: Montenegro has no doubt about EU, NATO accession
Published date: 17.02.2017 15:23 | Author: PR Service

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Podgorica, Montenegro (17 February 2017) -- Montenegro has no doubt when it comes to its integration into NATO and the EU, said Prime Minister Duško Marković in an interview with US-based Time magazine.

Speaking about integration, but also current political situation, and interference and obstruction by third parties, the Prime Minister said that since October last year, Montenegro has had continuously experienced obstruction directed towards the state and its institutions, but that it has to defend its legal and institutional order.

Asked by the reporter whether the current geopolitical shifts lead to reconsideration of the decision to join the Alliance, the Prime Minister said that there is no doubt in that regard.

"We know that NATO is going to enter into a new stage, a new way of doing things. We believe that especially because of the new position of the US and President Trump, NATO will become even stronger," the Prime Minister said in an interview with Time on the eve of the Munich Security Conference, which he will attend along with other top statesmen from Europe and the world.

EU, he said, is facing serious problems, but we truly believe that once the negotiation process is completed, it will look completely different compared to how it looks today. "We believe that it will be better organised, and its institutions will be reinforced more that today."

Prime Minister Marković also noted that it is important that the Alliance keeps pursuing its Open Door policy for all the countries of the Western Balkans, as this will preserve peace in the region, which is needed to maintain stability and peace in the entire Eastern Europe.

Speaking about the reasons why Montenegro wants to become a member of NATO, PM Marković noted that historical experience of many conflicts and wars in the region have never led to finding any mechanisms for self-control and resolution of crises.

"Montenegro is strategically very well positioned. It has an exit to the Adriatic Sea. (Other) countries of the Adriatic, namely Slovenia, Croatia and Albania, are already NATO members. Montenegro is the only country which is not. It has a very powerful port, the port OF Bar. And this port of Bar is strategically very important for NATO opponents, especially following the conflict in Syria, where Russia started its search for a good naval base in some of the warmer seas," the Prime Minister said when asked what benefits Montenegro's membership brings to the Alliance.

Commenting on the reporter's notion that it should not be surprising that Russia has been so resistant to Montenegro joining NATO and the expansion of the Alliance, Prime Minister Marković said that Russia is very interested in expanding to the Adriatic and that it sees decision of Montenegro to become part of another civilisational circle as a threat.

"It is all about the strategic conflict between global interests, the power game between NATO and the West on one side and Russia on the other. Montenegro has cherished for more than 300 years its good friendship with Russia and we would never allow our territory to be misused in order to disrupt Russian security in any way," Prime Marković explained.

Nevertheless, Montenegro will defend its interests and the interests of the Western community it opted for, the Prime Minister stressed.

"Enabling Russia to gain power, or to gain dominant influence in the Western Balkans, would mean losing our sovereignty. And we want to keep that sovereignty for ourselves.”

Responding to questions about the events on the eve of 16 October 2016, and activities related to the attempted coup, the Prime Minister said that Russia interfered with the Montenegrin elections and openly supported NATO opponents.

"A lot of money was pumped in illegally. Russian officials were publicly threatening us. Their (security) were in touch with politicians, with the Orthodox Church, with NGOs, with some media outlets. An environment was created in which the pro-Western forces were supposed to lose," explained the Prime Minister, adding that an alternative scenario was being prepared, which, in case of victory of pro-Western forces, would led to attacks, conflicts and violent overtaking of power.

Prime Minister explained that the conspiracy was discovered, adding that the security services of NATO member countries also confirmed information of the Montenegrin institutions.

"They helped us to put all of these pieces together, because all of these operations involved the interference of a third party," said Prime Minister Marković.

Noting that local protests in some parts of Eastern Ukraine in 2014 against the pro-Western Government escalated into a major conflict, in which Russia intervened, the Time magazine reporter asked whether the Prime Minister fears that such a thing could happen in Montenegro. The Prime Minister said that this modus operandi Russia uses to destabilise a country.

"We are aware of that. But continuously since the elections we have had obstruction of the state and its institutions here. They want to make this government nonsensical, the same goes for the judiciary, the prosecutor's office, and the law enforcement authorities. We don't want to allow them to do that. We know it carries many risks. But we must defend our legal and constitutional order regardless of what the Russian side is ready to do.”