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PM Markovic in interview with VOA: USA remains present in region, Montenegro in NATO on 5 June

PM Markovic in interview with VOA: USA remains present in region, Montenegro in NATO on 5 June
Published date: 09.05.2017 09:40 | Author: PR Service

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Washington, the United States (9 May 2017) – Prime Minister Duško Marković said in an interview with "Voice of America" that the main topic of his conversation yesterday with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was improving already good bilateral relations between Montenegro and the United States especially in light of the fact that Montenegro will soon become a NATO member and the country's obligations which arise from membership.

"One of important issues was the situation in the region regarding peace and stability and Euro-Atlantic and European perspective. We shared the concern about the current situation in the region, a number of outstanding issues in several countries that threaten to stop the integration of the Western Balkans to the European Union and NATO. Very important issue was also the role and position of Russia in the Western Balkans and its interest in ensuring its strategic interest in this area to the detriment of countries that want or that are moving towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration," the Prime Minister said.

He added that they discussed important topics such as strengthening democracy, improving political system, functionality of institutions and strengthening the rule of law in order to create conditions for increasing living standards in Montenegro and the region.

New US administration supports Montenegro

When asked about assessing the attitude of the new US administration toward Montenegro, Prime Minister Marković recalled that there were different messages concerning the election of the President of the United States Donald Trump, from messages that NATO is not perspective to the lack of interest of the new administration not only for the Western Balkans but also for Europe.

"Today we are witnessing a completely different strategic access of the United States when it comes to the Western Balkans, and what makes me particularly happy, when it comes to Montenegro. This is confirmed by concrete actions and concrete actions. Quickly after the election of President Trump and the new administration Montenegro has ensured the ratification of the protocol in the US Senate, a very quick verification of the protocol by the President Trump, and we in Montenegro found very important Secretary of State Tillerson's letter to the Senate of the necessity of quick ratification of Montenegrin protocol and strengthening our vision to be a new NATO member. It was not just a letter that indicated the need for quick ratification but also a letter which expressed the strong progress and reforms conducted by Montenegro and the need to provide conditions for the continuation of these reforms. So, there is no change in this policy. Today Mr Tillerson said that they were very interested in the situation in the Western Balkans since the Western Balkans is very important in terms of the stability of Europe," PM Marković said.

The Prime Minister said that at the meeting both sides very clearly stated that America is not the one who should solve these problemmes but it is the responsibility of local politicians, and the United States is here to help.

USA remains present in the Western Balkans

The Prime Minister said that the Secretary of State Tillerson confirmed the United States' interest to be present in the Western Balkans, and not only in the Western Balkans but also in Europe.

"This is important not only in terms of peace and stability but also to spread the values of democracy and overall prosperity," Prime Minister Marković said, adding that it was jointly concluded that Montenegro is a good example of a country which made the best of the last fifteen years of peace in the Western Balkans after the breakup of Yugoslavia. The Prime Minister reminded that at the moment, when there is tension between several countries of the region, Montenegro deviates from this practice.

PM Marković also said that they mutually agreed that it would be unacceptable if the EU enlargement policy in the Balkans was frozen or questionable.

Montenegro formally NATO Member State on 5 June

Prime Minister Duško Marković said that the ratification procedure of Montenegro's Accession Protocol to NATO in Spain is expected to be completed in the coming days, adding that 5 June is set out as a day for depositing Montenegro's instrument of accession.

Russian pressure is increasing

The meeting between Prime Minister Duško Marković and US State Secretary Rex Tillerson discussed several topics, including the Russian pressure on Montenegro and Russia’s strong presence in the Western Balkans.

"I've sad that Montenegro was exposed to a strong pressure followed by political, financial and intelligence activities, and the whole plan was aimed at destabilising Montenegro in terms of causing incidents and armed conflicts, as well as organising assassination of the former Prime Minister Đukanović. Fortunately, our services have discovered that scenario on time and actors involved in these activities were arrested. We’re currently seeking for the organisers of the whole scenario who are alleged members of the military intelligence service. Therefore, the case emerged from the Prosecution and I believe that it will be resolved in court after issuing indictment on 24 May," PM Marković explained.

US State Secretary Tillerson believes that Russian pressure on Montenegro is not a sole case and that various other European countries have been exposed to the same pressure which is constantly being increased, PM Marković emphasised.

PM Marković stressed that Russia makes pressure on Montenegro not only at political and security levels, but also financial one.

"When it comes to Montenegro we are very patient, even beyond our national dignity. You can witness the ongoing pressure even these days, particularly when it comes to the rigid and threatening messages coming from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs," PM Marković highlighted.

Speaking of the Russian campaign, PM Marković sad that at the beginning it was against political leaders and political parties, but nowadays it is aimed at undermining our economy and blocking export of our companies such as "Plantaže" and "Montenegro Airlines". What is particularly disturbing is the fact that the primitive, inappropriate and low-key campaign is being conducted aimed at jeopardising our security and safety in terms of qualifying our country as a country of crime, corruption and prostitution. We are really concerned and also surprised by the behaviour of a powerful diplomacy which is using such methods against a small country, particularly having in mind that our two countries cherished long century friendship. We are also concerned by the high number of false reports on explosive devices in the public places and tourist capacities. All these activities are aimed at creating scenario of instability and insecurity that could escalate in radical actions. We are very concerned regarding these recent developments. In that regard, we are pursuing our security sector to act preventively and protect the country and its citizens, PM Marković pointed out.

Answering the question whether Montenegro cooperates with the United States in investigating events, the Prime Minister answered affirmatively, adding that Montenegro has initiated cooperation with respective services in the region and outside the region shortly after the discovering a case, and that it has a particularly strong cooperation with services of the United States and the countries of NATO and the EU. He also added that cooperation led to the uncontested facts indicating the direct and inappropriate interference which could have unforeseeable consequences.

When asked whether Russia was directly involved in last year’s events in Montenegro, Prime Minister Marković said that Montenegro wants to believe that there is no direct role of the Russian leadership, but there is also no adequate reaction to the continuity of the attacks after 16 October, especially from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

“We know quite certainly that parts of Russian system are behind this action, while we see that Moscow does not want to cooperate with Montenegro in order to clarify and disclose the whole case and make it incontestable to the Russian and Montenegrin public. This tells us that we do not have readiness for such cooperation, and it also confirms the commitment of Russia about not wanting to see Montenegro on this path, on the contrary. This is a situation that is very difficult and very serious, but at the same time Montenegro does not want to change its approach. In 2006 Montenegro decided to create its own political destiny, to direct its flows and its overall commitments. We will be working so in the future regardless of the fact that a powerful country such as Russia confronts us at the moment,” the Prime Minister stated.

Accepting the opposition’s request is not possible

When asked about the internal political scene, the Prime Minister said that the opposition’s request for early elections cannot be accepted for political reasons – because that would be new ground for the destruction from Russia, and for legal reasons – because observers assessed that last year’s parliamentary elections were the best so far and reflect the people’s will.

“I invited opposition representatives to enter the Parliament, and after that to enter the Government – those who want it. We have not had a positive response so far, quite the opposite. The answers were negative. But I believe that in these new circumstances we can reach a minimum compromise that will allow the dialogue, return to the Parliament and creating the conditions for a more functional political system,” Prime Minister Marković said, adding that he wants return of the opposition to the Parliament, but he does not accept blackmail as it does not lead to a solution.

When asked about assessing the results of local elections in Herceg Novi, Prime Minister Marković said that it is obvious that the Democratic Party of Socialists achieved lower result than expected.

“I believe that the lower result is due to our rapid integration into NATO,” the Prime Minister stressed, noting that it is important that the elections were fair and free and that the local government should be constituted soon to work to the benefit of citizens and properly cooperate with the Government.