Yes, that is obvious Montenegro is no longer the same country It does not have the same status in the region and the International Community In a few days, we are becoming a full-fledged, 29th NATO member state and that fact speaks for itself We are becoming a part of a great military-political Alliance, of a collective security organization in which this principle “all for one and one for all” defined in Article 5 puts every member state in a position that

its security is in the best possible way protected as much as it is possible today By joining NATO, Montenegro has somehow put a seal on its decision on independence from 2006 That decision was made through the votes of our citizens, when a majority decided for the country to renew its independence But, that decision, for all of those who voted in favor of it, meant that Montenegro will, when the time comes and when conditions are met, which is today, become a full-fledged member state of NATO and the EU That was written in the Independence Declaration and no friends or enemies of ours, nor those neutral ones could not doubt about our direction We haven’t surprised anyone by deciding to become a NATO member state That was known since the country renewed its independence In that sense, Montenegro is today a country that will contribute to collective security, although it has already done that in many ways But, it will also be a country which contributed to the stability of the whole Balkans, of the whole region We should not refrain from taking into account some geopolitical facts After we join NATO, the whole Adriatic area will be under NATO’s umbrella, as well as the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Turkey Therefore, those geographic facts should not be neglected Though, we should neither exaggerate with our significance But, that is something which is obvious Montenegro does not have great military forces But, we have shown enough commitment to, together with partners and allies and friends, contribute in the fight for the values of NATO and the EU, in Afghanistan and anywhere where we were expected and asked to help Our army received very good grades in Afghanistan judging by what it has done there, as well as, I also believe, recommendations for some other situations if necessary Therefore, in America, they would say that our NATO membership is a game changer And I really believe that. That really is a game changer Let me refer to the beginning, we remain the same country with our internal open issues, problems, hopes, expectations, political fights But, in the international sense, Montenegro is no longer the same country Some challenges will remain the same, and some won’t. Montenegro has not only confirmed the decision on its independence by joining NATO, but there have also been some other changes In a way, we have confirmed our borders and our identity in the region Furthermore, this sends a clear message to the EU that it no longer needs to worry about our security when it comes to our accession process We are country which will, from 5th June, be, I don’t know whether I should say a bit or a whole lot more secure than before that date That is something what the EU member states will take into consideration when talking about our meeting of the criteria By this, we have opened the doors for our neighbors, we have shown that the open door policy is not only a mantra, spreading to please the audience in NATO, but that it is a realistic policy Not only have we symbolically shown that, but we will also be a very persistent advocate for our neighboring countries to achieve this goal And we believe that many of those who want that can actually do that. Unfortunately, some of them have had certain setbacks when it comes to this, some are their own, let’s say fault, but more are the consequences of certain international circumstances Some still have to work on this But, they can find a reliable friend in Montenegro in this regard Therefore, our tasks, after becoming a NATO member state, are, of course, to turn to the process of European Integration, but also to solve the problems at home

Becoming a NATO member does not mean that you should not fight for better lives of your citizens, for democracy to function better and for strengthening the rule of law Those are tasks which do not change by the fact that we are now a part of NATO First of all, it should be understood that this is a serious situation,

a serious change in international circumstances and that

it was not by accident that, in the eve of the Munich Security Conference, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation, Mr. Lavrov said that, according to him and them, we are entering the so-called “post-Western world”, whatever that means Those projections are not to be underestimated, and, therefore, we at the Balkans, and Montenegro, are not the primary target of Russia I believe this is about a broader and more global approach, or attack against the international liberal order, the corner stone of which is the strategy “disrupt NATO, divide the EU”, if possible The Balkans is an important part of that story, because the Western Balkans is the last, last part of Europe, the so-called zone of nearest neighborhood to Russia aside, which is not absorbed in the EU or NATO If the Western Balkans does not succeed in finishing this story in a good way, that would be a hard blow, not only for us, but, I am positive, for the EU and NATO as well The Balkans is an easily flammable area and the best way to make it secure is to make it a part of, um, to receive some additional sources of security, and in this case, that is our membership in the EU and NATO, for those who want that There are countries who are, for the time being, not in favor of the second Therefore, I believe that that situation has to be viewed from that angle Montenegro was, of course, a drastic example of that strategy, since there was an attempt of violent overthrow of the Government, which was, fortunately, unsuccessful However, that should not be a surprise, since there are various kinds of attacks, in accordance with the hybrid war strategies, in much bigger and much stronger countries than Montenegro There were problems with elections in America, recently with elections in France and that is openly spoken about. Those are no longer speculations Therefore, those challenges must be taken very seriously In that regard, our decision is even more significant This is the first time in the history of Montenegro that we are definitely and irrevocably going to the West That was never like that, since we exist There were attempts at the time of the Petrović dynasty One of them was killed because of that, another one was overthrown

This is the first time that we are successfully finishing a great integration into the Western world Paradoxically, Montenegro was closest to the West under the communists, since, during Yugoslavia, the late President, Josip Broz Tito, lead a non-compliance policy and we were as close as possible We lived a sort of a Western life, we listened to rock music, watched Hollywood movies, read books from the West, traveled freely, our professors taught at Western universities But now, it is official for the first time So, that fact should be observed from that angle as well We believe that is one more, as I said before, stone that contributes to the stability of our region There are certainly some differences in the approach

Even though countries are members of a binding Alliance,

they have different positions, and sometimes different interests

and those interest can be recognized in discussions within NATO or the EU

However, as Mr. Appathurai just said, there is more and more a common, first of all, diagnosis about what is happening, what the goals of Russia are and which strategy is used. And, there are no significant differences among allies when it comes to this Also, all allies agree that the double-track strategy should be implemented and be, on one hand, strong, determined and principled in defending the fundamental values of NATO and the Western world And on the other hand, of course, there should be talks with Russia Russia is a great power and no one wants conflicts, especially military ones Therefore, I believe there are no significant differences when it comes to these strategic issues Sometimes, there are differences about what should actually be done in a specific situation But, that is natural People are often different when it comes to means of achieving goals. The same goes for countries In any case, I believe that Mr. Appathurai’s judgement is exact and that there is now more agreement about what is going on and what should be done, than, for example, 2 or three years ago, because it seemed that allies were simply surprised by this strategy of hybrid war

That strategy was launched and I believe its author is the Chief of Staff, General Gerasimov, not so long ago Let’s say, in the last couple of years it was clearly visible in international relations So, as Mike said, we should see what strategies there are and simply weigh what should be done and when, in order not to go to far, since, in this region, we have seen in the 90s what happens when you yield too much to those who are ready to go, if not until the end, than pretty far On the other hand, you should not exaggerate and bring the world on the verge of global conflict I have already said that

the moment we become a NATO member state, our politics towards our neighbors will not change We will be equally persistent and and equally determined advocates of our neighboring countries to achieve the same goals And now even more, as a full-fledged member Truth be told, that is not such a short period for achieving that Montenegro has gone through a pretty rough path in a relatively short period, only 11 years after renewing independence And what is really interesting is that it went through it completely alone, without the group of countries which would be accepted together with it In that regard, we will, if it can be said like that, lobby for our neighbors There are certain difficulties here, which were mentioned in the question Macedonia has the unresolved issue of the name with one NATO member state, and as you know there is “veto-power” in NATO when it comes to voting Greece is not only a member of NATO, but also of the EU and it has ways to protect its interests very efficiently Of course, the dispute about the name may seem bizarre to those who are not from the Balkans, but here, those kinds of disputes usually transform into the most serious and difficult to resolve disputes That is why it lasts so long in the case of Macedonia and Greece We should regret the fact that Macedonia, when its membership in NATO was blocked in 2008, was in a better state than we were back then It was much closer to NATO, more ready than we were In 10 years, many things have changed That is maybe the best message to all the member states of NATO and the EU, what happens when one country, which is in one moment ready to join the Alliance, does not achieve those goals There begins internal disappointment, internal problems, political elites start turning to other goals and today we are where we are. I believe that is a lesson for, especially for the EU when it comes to this region, that this region mustn’t stay out of her focus, and, in security terms, out of NATO’s focus. In that regards, the new course of elections in critical European countries is pleasing I would like to use this opportunity to, once more, send my warmest congratulations to the French presidential candidate Macron, the future president of the country in a difficult race, where the anti-European forces in France showed that they do not have such a small percentage, and before that, to the winning of the Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Netherlands

Those important countries have succeeded in renewing hope that the EU is not falling apart, as it was thought If that trend continues in Germany, which I do not doubt, that that is maybe the opportunity to show the trend I was speaking about to the Western Balkans and to give hope to our neighbors It is difficult for me to speak about when the issue of military property in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be resolved We probably shouldn’t arbitrate in that, if we can help, we are here So, our obligations towards our neighbors remain the same, i.e. friendly obligations, because, as you know, the politics of good relations with all neighbors and regional countries are one of the corner stones of the overall foreign policy of Montenegro and we have had many benefits from that politics We have no problems with our friends and I hope they don’t have problems with us I believe that most of the questions are for my colleagues,

but I owe the answer about Serbia. First of all, I would like to thank the professor

for his congratulations

I completely agree with what my colleagues said, that Serbia is, that the question in what direction Serbia will move is the main question of our region’s security That is the biggest country in the region, a country the position of which, I cannot say we all depend on, but that position is really important to all of us I have no doubts that there are

certain strategies and plans to make, in a geopolitical sense, a Balkans Cuba from Serbia But, on the other hand, we see that the Government of Serbia emphasizes that her path is towards the EU So far, NATO keeps aside and the policy of military neutrality is preferred But, whatever the expressions of those pro-West course, if it is successful, what we all hope and believe, that would be a great relief for all of us If, at some elections, or some other situation, and Serbian history is full of fights between pro-West, modernization trends and those others, if the trend would go into the other direction, we could say: “We can live with that” but it would be much harder than in a different situation This is why there is great support for Serbia to, together with all of us, sooner or later, achieve these goals which will integrate this whole region into the European family of nations