"Montenegro would intervene anywhere, Kosovo included"
Montenegro's NATO membership is absolutely not directed against any country in the region, "especially not against Serbia," says Montenegro's defense minister.Source: Tanjug
According to Predrag Boskovic, relations between the two countries are now at their best in the past 11 years. Boskovic also expects defense ministers to exchange visits "right after the formation of the Serbian government."
Commenting on Dmitry Rogozin's recent statement that Montenegro's NATO membership was directed against Serbia rather than Russia, Boskovic said the Russian deputy prime minister was sending a message "more to Serbia, than to Montenegro."
Speaking for Tanjug late last week, ahead of his trip to Brussels for Montenegro's first NATO meeting, Boskovic also said he could "neither justify not understand" Rogozin0s statement, and added that Montenegro's membership in NATO was "in Russia's best interest, if Russia's interest is peace and stability in the Balkans."
Furthermore, the Montenegrin minister revealed, it is also "in Serbia's interest to be a part of NATO" - adding that "the path toward the EU is significantly facilitated by previous NATO membership."
According to Boskovic, his country's membership in the wester military alliance "put an end to any possible territorial pretensions against Montenegro in the region."
Asked whether it was enough of a guarantee against "some geopolitical interests, like the Greater Albania project," Boskovic replied:
"Precisely Montenegro's NATO integration puts an end to all greater state projects in the Balkans, whether it's Greater Albania, Greater Serbia, or any other."
Asked if Montenegro would reexamine its participation and "possibly say no" to some "delicate NATO interventions" - such as, for example, in Kosovo, the minister had no dilemma:
"In agreement with our allies we would certainly, in any scenario, participate in any action that NATO defines as a joint response of all 29 members - whether it's Kosovo, or any other part of the globe, regardless of our internal political circumstances."
Asked whether NATO would set up a base in Montenegro, Boskovic replied that there was "neither the intention, nor the desire" to do such a thing.
As for whether Montenegrin authorities should have organized a referendum on NATO membership, Boskovic said the decision was "legal and legitimate," and asserted that "a significant majority of citizens, if they voted in a referendum, would have been in favor of NATO membership."
"As for why we didn't do it - there are practical reasons. One is that much lesser events have in the past caused turbulences in Montenegrin society," he said.
Boskovic also said that "Russian intelligence officers last year attempted to cause bloodshed and kill the former prime minister."
"This is currently in the courts and the hearings will begin next month. Everything will be open, transparent, so that people will be able to be assured of all the things that were being prepared last year, during the election campaign, that is, on election day," he said.
Boskovic also said the Montenegrin opposition's announcement of annulling the NATO accession decision once in power was "not serious."
"When Montenegro decided in favor of independence, the opposition also said they would contest that decision," said the minister.
According to Boskovic, his country would have no problem meeting its financial obligations toward the alliance.
"The annual membership fee of EUR 450,000 is the only thing Montenegro has to pay. That's 0.0027 percent of NATO's military budget," Boskovic explained.