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PM Marković in interview with Politico Magazine: Decision on Montenegro's NATO membership cannot be brought into question

PM Marković in interview with Politico Magazine: Decision on Montenegro
Published date: 13.06.2017 16:00 | Author: PR Service

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Prime Minister Duško Marković said that Montenegro's decision to join NATO followed public dialogue with the opposition; that decision cannot be brought into question and that we hear a lot of noise coming from the opposition, but they have no arguments whatsoever.

"So throughout this entire course of dialogue, we were very transparent, and this dialogue was completely public. We presented both the pros and cons in terms of NATO accession. And now I can tell you that this overwhelming majority of our population is in favor of NATO, namely, two-thirds of the MPs who currently are in parliament are in favor of NATO. Part of our members of parliament are boycotting the parliament in the aftermath of the elections of October 16th.

So as far as your question concerning the irreversibility of the decision is concerned, I have to say that this is a decision that is permanent. It cannot be brought into question, and it is completely irreversible. We did not make this decision on an ad hoc basis. We made this decision over 10 years ago, and we will stick to this decision. As far as the opposition is concerned, we hear a lot of noise coming from the opposition, but they have no arguments whatsoever. They have no solid facts that they could use to undermine our decision," the Prime Minister said in an interview with Politico Magazine.

Speaking about Russia's opposition to Montenegro's membership in NATO, the Prime Minister said that Montenegro during restoration of its independence publicly defined membership in NATO and the European Union as strategic goals; that Russia did not in any way responded to this until finalisation of Montenegro's Euro-Atlantic integration process which coincides with the lowest relations between Russia and the USA and the EU, and thet Montenegro in no way contributed to current relations.

"This is actually the path that we have chosen. This was the key priority in the international policy. We have posed, as our priorities, integration into NATO and European Union, and this was not some sort of a hidden policy of ours, wasn’t some sort of hidden agenda. This is something we had already informed all of our friends, all of our allies, but also those who do not agree with our orientation and with our goals. Namely, in 2006, when we restored our independence and when we were restored our state, we clearly defined our goals in our Declaration of Independence, which was passed in our parliament. So in this declaration, we stipulated some provisions, stating that NATO and European Union would be the ultimate goals of our state policy. We were not hiding anything from anyone, and at that point, the Russian Federation did not pose any question about any of these matters. Namely, in the five-year period, we were having negotiations and talks. We were drafting action plans—membership action plans, which were issued annually. We were involved in dialogue with NATO. And Russia never had any problem with that. They never posed any question about this. So this moment is very specific in terms of the geopolitical situation, the moment of accession of Montenegro to NATO, namely. This is the moment which coincides with the relations between NATO and Russia, also the European Union and Russia, which are at their lowest point. Namely, this finalization of Montenegro and accession to NATO coincides with the lowest relations between E.U. and Russia following the annexation of Crimea and following, actually, Russian attack on Ukraine. Also, this is the moment when relations between NATO and Russia are worse than ever. The same goes with relations between the United States and Russia. Now the relations are less productive than ever, and this—all of those coincidences—actually had a lot of influence on us. We regret, because of the Russian decision and because of their stance. Namely, we are not responsible for such actions. We didn’t do anything to provoke such reactions from the Russian side. Russian politicians are responsible for that. This sort of behavior from Russia is not something that is democratic. This is not something that is in line with civilizational standards, with political standards. They are not supposed to hamper us on our path. We are supposed to be able to choose our own destiny. We spent so much time wandering through those wastelands because we have a very negative heritage from our past. Our country has been falling behind Europe a lot, and actually we have to do everything it takes to make the quality of life for our citizens better. This is our natural right, and all of us have agreed on that, "PM Marković said.

PM Marković assessed that Russia has no solid arguments for its actions, since Montenegro does not pose any sort of threat to Russia.

"Montenegro in NATO is not a threat to Russia. Montenegro in NATO can only be conducive to peace and stability, to expanding this area of welfare, of regional cooperation, and good, neighborly relations. Russia has always been our traditional friend, but, despite that, Russia did not understand this latest move that we made. Namely, we did not expect such sort of reactions, and Russia does not have any right to interfere with the will of our citizens and their choice of their own destiny."

Speaking about the events in Montenegro related to the ongoing activities against its membership in NATO, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that the court process in the court, namely the judicial process, will give us the right answer to all of the questions that are being currently posed.

"Russian interference in Montenegro and their meddling into our political developments and into our political circumstances was actually reflected in preparation of a terrorist attack. Currently there is a prosecutorial and judicial process undergoing in Montenegro. We have solid facts, indisputable facts, that cannot be brought into question. And believe that the court process in the court, namely the judicial process, will give us the right answer to all of the questions that are being currently posed," PM Marković said.

The Prime Minister also said that he believes that Russian approach will change.

"Montenegro is now in NATO, and that’s a fact that cannot be disputed. By becoming a NATO member state, we secured our sovereignty and our independence, our right to manage our own destiny. Russia should understand that they should accept that. And today, after yesterday’s historic day, we have to send a message. The message that we want to send is that we want to be engaged in conversation, in dialogue, and not in confrontation. So we are not actually afraid, and we believe that Russian approach will change. They will accept this indisputable fact, that Montenegro is a NATO member state, and they will agree to engage in dialogue and conversation with us."

The Prime Minister said that the approach of Vice President Mike Pence clearly shows that the US is committed to the values and goals of NATO.

"The United States hasn’t changed its position in terms of NATO. The United States still believes in the goals and values of the alliance. Vice President Pence spoke last night. He addressed the audience at last night’s gala thrown by the Atlantic Council. And he clearly stated that the United States remains committed to the observance of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, namely that they stand ready in this one-for-all, all-for-one scheme, so to say. The United States will be consistently adhering to that article in the Washington Treaty. And Vice President Pence said, also on behalf of President Trump, that as those threats grow, as the number of adversaries is growing, the strength of NATO should also be growing, and solidarity should be reinforced within the 29 member states of the alliance. Namely, we believe that, in the future, the alliance will be working towards maintenance of peace and stability and not in any way towards provoking any conflicts, especially not armed conflicts."

The Prime Minister reiterated that Montenegro's priority, after joining the NATO, is the EU membership, which according to our estimates should happen in five years’ time.
"And we have to actually make a shift. We have to gear our administration towards working on some financial issues and matters. We have to work on improving our macroeconomic stability. We have to work on increasing our economic parameters. We have to work on those new priorities that the government had set. As prime minister, I will be supporting this fully," PM Marković said in an interview with Politico Magazine during his last week's stay in Washington.