Đukanović: Perspective of Western Balkans can only be European

Milo Đukanović; Photo: European Union

BERLIN – President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović spoke in the German Council of Foreign Policy (DGAP) on the subject “Political perspectives of the Balkans and Montenegro and their relations with the Europe in 2019”.

As he said today nobody knows what the future of the EU will be like. “Regardless of that fact, I’m convinced that the future of WB can be European and European only. Being involved in politics for so long, I sometimes wonder how the next generations will look at what we are doing today. Are they going to appreciate what we had achieved? What will they think of the thing we could have achieved?”, said Đukanović.

According to him we all knew that different paths lead to different future, adding we also know how to take into consideration different perspectives.

“But if anything has been constant in the last two and a half decades in Montenegro, it’s our intention to be modern, open, safe and prosperous country, which is part of Europe with same qualities. The future of all of us is certain only if we have a common perspective. I think this is the real outlook on the future”, said the President.

According to him, integration had never been a one-way street.

“It’s not just the relation between Montenegro and Balkans and the EU, it’s also about the relation between the EU and our country and the region. That’s why I see the Berlin process as high-quality upgrading of the European policy aimed at WB”, said the President.

He added that some more committed relation of the EU was of crucial importance for tackling the remaining open questions in the region.

“The example of the Prespes agreement is very stimulating. The agreement reached between Skopje and Athens is a real indicator that even the most difficult problems can be overcomed if there’s a political will of leaders and benefits that for both sides. It’s essential that North Macedonia is on its way towards NATO, with the real possibility of opening negotiations for the EU accession. I believe it can be inspiring for the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. If that problem settled, the entire region, and Serbia, would be more relaxed. It would inspire Serbia to dedicate more to the European perspective. The most difficult question of all is the question of the functionality of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, said the President.

He also said that it “is very difficult to talk about any perspective without understanding the more recent past and the present”. He pointed out that Montenegro “was one of the six republics where there hadn’t been wars and tragedies during the breakup of Yugoslavia”.

“We were oasis of security and a shelter for a great number of refugees and displaced persons. It was a time of sanctions against the last, two-member Yugoslavia whose part was Montenegro. It was time of warfare, shortage of all kinds, inflation… In order to defend its economic system, several years later, Montenegro formalized German mark (DM) as its only currency. Thanks to that, in 2002 already, the EUR became our currency. Those were radical changes, not only financial and economic, but also, mental and social changes. And they have definitely defined the direction of the development of Montenegro”, pointed out President Đukanović.

Almost 13 years ago, under the auspices of the EU, Montenegro regained its independence.

“At the end of 2008, Montenegro applied for the EU membership, and in 2012 it entered into accession negotiations. We opened 32 out of 33 negotiating chapters, we became leaders in the integration process. In June of 2017, Montenegro became NATO Member. We had enormous support of our international partners, and Germany had one of the most important roles”, said Đukanović.

Struggling with the retrograde politics in Montenegro, that opposed to the independence and integration, was very hard and very risky.

“However, we succeeded because from the very first day we had a clear vision. We wanted to bring Montenegro back to its European home, we wanted it to be part of the European system of values. A factor of the contemporary European civilization. We also had a firm determination and capacities to overcome all the obstacles. However, let me just acknowledge a fact: strategic political battle in the WB is still being fought on that front. Now, will we follow the idea of integration, or will some of us, miss another, maybe even the last chance, under the pressure of domestic retrograde politics, supported by political centers which oppose Europe? We, in Montenegro, believe that we had made smart decisions and achieved partial objectives. We are still trying to provide more dynamic development and European-quality lifestyle for our citizens”, said the President.

Real GDP growth rate in the EU amounted 2,4% (2017) and 1,9% (2018), whereas in Montenegro it amounted 4,7% (2017).

The President pointed out that one of the key economic values of Montenegro is the openness of the economy.

“Montenegro is an open country and it’s part of global trends. That openness isn’t related to the economy only. We have done a lot to unite some differences that existed, we do  not have unsettled questions with our neighbors. We have two bilateral agreements signed. They refer to border regulations, the only two agreements of that kind at the territory of former Yugoslavia”, concluded the President of Montenegro.