Djukanovic for B92: Battle for Kosovo is long lost

Montenegrin PM Milo Djukanovic said in an exclusive interview for B92 that by recognizing Kosovo no one in Montenegro had any bad intentions towards Serbia.

Source: B92

Djukanovic, speaking about the disturbances in relations between Serbia and Montenegro, pointed out that one of the reasons was the desire to restore Montenegro's independence, while the recognition of Kosovo by Montenegro further stagnated relations between the two countries.

"I understand the emotional attitude of the Serbian public toward the issue of Kosovo, but nobody in Montenegro had any bad intention because on does not cause harm to someone one sees as being very close. The thing is that it was a perception of what needs to be done to regulate and improve the situation in the region, greater stability and restoration of trust. I was saying to the former and current authorities, both to (Boris) Tadic and (Aleksandar) Vucic it was my impression that what Serbia is experiencing now when it comes to Kosovo, is not participation in solving the problem of Kosovo. Contemporary Serbia does not have that privilege. Contemporary Serbia can only receive an invoice for a lost battle, a battle that was lost in previous generations of people who were making political decisions. Do not be robbing yourselves of real developmental chances of present-day and future Serbia because of a battle that was lost before," Djukanovic said.

As for Montenegro's accession to NATO, Djukanovic told B92 TV's Ivana Konstantinovic that he believes it will not have consequences on good relations between Serbia and Montenegro.

"I hope there will be no additional burden of any kind in relations. Each state has a right to their choices. As we respect the building of Serbia's foreign policy path, so Serbia respects the right to free choice of Montenegro to, beside EU integration, also integrate into NATO which will in no way affect the upward trend in relations between the two countries," said the Montenegrin prime minister.

Summing up this year, Djukanovic spoke about the tenth anniversary of Montenegro's independence, NATO, and the upcoming parliamentary elections.

"When in the years before the referendum on independence in 2006 we explained the idea of restoring independence, we said we want to take responsibility for our future, which we see as European and Euro-Atlantic. We're practically at the door of NATO, in fact we are a member of NATO, the ratification process only needs to take place, which is a process that is ongoing and will last for several months before it finishes. Today we can say that we have had a clear vision of the future when it comes to Montenegro, and that we have in the last ten years shown that we have the strength and the ability to achieve this vision," said Djukanovic.

He added that "the values ​​that were realized in the referendum and that have been built upon throughout the decade now need to be defended in the parliamentary elections."

As for his absence from the Serbian media, Djukanovic told B92:

"Our two publics were dedicated to different priorities. While we have been committed to meeting the conditions for accession to NATO and the creation of prerequisites for a quality and dynamic process of negotiations with the EU, Serbia was created conditions for the beginning of the process of regulation of relations with Kosovo, rebuilding trust with all its neighbors, commencement of reforms in the economy and society in general . The atmosphere in relations between Serbia and Montenegro was not quarrelsome and therefore perhaps there was no interest from the media. Relations have been substantially improved, Prime Minister Vucic and I have given these relations a very significant contribution, we are now at the stage of creating an exemplary example for the neighbors in the region."

He also said that Serbs in Montenegro "have a lot of respect and the same rights as other citizens of Montenegro."

Djukanovic referred to his 25 years in power as "clearly speaking of the dominance over the competition."

"It has been 25 years of continuous victory. In these 25 years, no matter how unusual it may be for someone to be in power for that long, this has been without results. When it comes to my experience, I became prime minister on my 29th birthday. Even then I was aware that I would not retire from that office, regardless of lasting in it for much longer than I had planned," said Djukanovic.

"Have I succeeded in making citizens feel improvements? I do not know. I believe that we are all made of qualities and faults, there have also been mistakes in these 25 years, but I never allowed some personal interests to take me to the wrong track, I worked for the benefit of citizens of Montenegro in a dedicated manner," he added.

Djukanovic also said that the decision of his DPS party to go to the upcoming elections alone rather than in a coalition was made "by the party itself."

He accused "a part of the opposition" of still not having accepted the independence of Montenegro.

"A part of the opposition first thought about a union with Serbia, and now that the country should be led with Russia's mentorship. One stage of showing their discontent were the protests outside parliament, after that failure they decided to return to parliament, it ended by me immediately offering early elections after the NATO invitation came, no one was ready for it. I tried to avoid what was their intention, and they intended to continue to prolong the destruction of the government," said Djukanovic.

He also commented on the economic results that Montenegro managed to achieve over the past period:

"Among the significant results we achieved, Montenegro, according to parameters, represents the most developed economy in the Western Balkans. We reached this level thanks to continued growth. The growth rate has reached 3.2 percent, and only Albania has a higher rate in the region. Foreign investments have contributed to the good pace of growth, we had an average of one percent foreign investments."