By Mr. Ivan Ivanišević
Since renewal of its independence, Montenegrin diplomacy has been based on the three key pillars of foreign policy.
Membership in NATO, which took place after a serious and deep reform of all segments of the society, contributed to strengthening the perception of Montenegro as an anchor of regional stability and a generator of confidence in the Western Balkans. By joining the Alliance, Montenegro has clearly laid the foundations for further development on the values promoted and brought together by today’s most significant military alliance.
Along with the process of joining NATO, negotiations on membership in the European Union were also underway. The good dynamics of opening the negotiating chapters was followed by strong commitment to adopt common EU acquis and to permanently shape up the society based on the values of human rights, freedoms, democracy and inclusiveness, through effective implementation of action plans. In this respect, a special emphasis was put on the success of so-called “new principle of negotiation”, during which the negotiation chapters 23 and 24 remain open from the outset until the final membership.
The EU integration successes of Montenegro have been facilitated by the opennes to take into consideration and use for the process the experiences conducted by the friendly countries from the “big enlargement” in 2004, but also on the experiences of the states that became members at a later date – Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.
It is precisely the good cooperation in this field that opened the door for development of bilateral relations with these countries.
NATO membership and a quality EU membership negotiation were followed by the process of implementation of the third pillar of Montenegro’s foreign policy – dynamic regional cooperation based on mutual confidence and support.
Exactly in this segment Montenegro achieved the greatest results since its renewal of independence. Numerous meetings have been organized in Montenegro with the aim to promote trust and dialogue as a basis for cooperation in the region. Montenegro has participated in over thirty regional mechanisms, initiatives and organizations, and Montenegrin presidencies have always been marked by readiness for dialogue, compromise and understanding.
Aware of the fact that confidence is difficult to gain, and too easy to lose, all decisions made by Montenegro have been clearly and timely communicated and shared with the neighboring countries. Openness to conversation, readiness for coordination and wish to find solutions of common interest became a kind of Montenegrin brand. This is best confirmed by the fact that Montenegro has never failed to support the neighboring countries’ candidates in any of the elections for the international organizations.
Now, as a NATO member and the first next EU member state, Montenegro is determined to continue building its relations with its neighbors on sustainable partnerships, secure elections and permanent strengthening of awareness of interdependence in the Western Balkans. As the smallest country in the region, Montenegro allocates all of its capacities for the benefit of all, regardless of what is on the agenda, be it security, migration, sharing of EU negotiation experience or any other topic of significance for the bright future of the Western Balkans.
Since this year, Montenegro has the honor to promote trust-based cooperation through its presidencies of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII), EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region (EUSAIR) and within the framework of presiding over Article IV of the Dayton Peace Accords on Bosnia and Herzegovina. In all these processes, we are pleased that all partners are aware of Montenegro’s good intentions, its readiness to take into account the wide interest of all sides and make decisions aimed at the common good. We are also pleased that, within the framework of new regional initiatives such as the Western Balkans Fund (WBF) and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), we can contribute to implementation of the ideas on which is based perhaps the most visible mechanism for promoting regional cooperation – the Berlin Process and Western Balkans Six, which were launched in that format exactly by Montenegro, and to which Montenegro has been unreservedly dedicated.
Convinced that we, in the region, work best whenever we work together and for the same goal, Montenegro took the position that making the regional cooperation effective, through concrete project mechanisms, is the key for deepening relations between the states and nations that have been sharing the Western Balkans territory for centuries. All of our numerous differences are important; they make the coloration of this part of Europe irresistible. Nowhere else is the touch of the worlds and various civilizations as loud as in the Balkans. Montenegro sees this as the best chance for joint progress. United in diversities, towards the new horizons of success.
Mr. Ivan Ivanišević is the Director General for Multilateral Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro
This article is written for WBF Newsletter and published in the July issue (WBF Newsletter 005).