OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): Good morning, thank you very much for coming to this press point with the Secretary General and the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Igor Lukšić. We'll start with short press statements. And we may have time for one or two questions.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (NATO Secretary General): Good morning. I've had a very positive and constructive meeting with Premier Lukšić this morning. First of all, let me welcome you to NATO headquarters. I'm very pleased that you decided to visit NATO so soon after you took office. I consider it yet another strong testament to your commitment to our alliance. And I look very much forward to cooperating with you in your new capacity.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Montenegro for its contribution to our mission in Afghanistan. The fact that Montenegro has sent soldiers to our operation in Afghanistan is a clear signal of commitment to Euro-Atlantic security and international stability, a strong commitment to our alliance. I would like also to take this opportunity to send a very clear message to the people of Montenegro.
NATO is the guarantor of peace and stability in the Balkans. During centuries, people in the Balkans have suffered from war and conflict. Today, people live in peace and security, not least thanks to the stabilizing effect of NATO in the region.
Next, it's my firm belief that the future of Montenegro lies within the Euro-Atlantic structures within NATO and the European Union. We know from experience that integration in these structures also promotes economic growth; attracts foreign investments and create prosperity.
And finally we have to realize that in today's world security is a cooperative effort. No country is able to provide security itself. In a globalized world, security is also globalized. And it takes cooperation. It takes collective efforts to insure the safety of our people in the future.
And these are the reasons why I do believe that the future of Montenegro also lies within NATO. And we appreciate the cooperation we have with Montenegro within the current framework of what we call a Membership Action Plan. And we look forward to continuing that cooperation in the coming years.
My vision is to see all countries in the Balkans integrated in NATO and the European Union. Such integration would promote freedom, peace, prosperity and progress in the region.
IGOR LUKŠIĆ (Prime Minister of Montenegro): Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me start by thanking Mr. Secretary-General for a very constructive and cordial meeting we had.
My intention was very clear by coming to Brussels in a first official visit. I intended to show that foreign policy of the government remains the same, which is joining European Union and NATO.
And I believe that we have a way of showing in our past efforts that our intention to participate in important activities of NATO suggests that Montenegro is ready, mature, responsible for complying with all necessary tasks which are expected for a future member.
As you know, we are currently within the Membership Action Plan. And Montenegro is a country that has gone through several facilities, several partnership programs. We're currently in the Membership Action Plan which is only one step behind full membership.
So I took the opportunity of having a meeting with Secretary General Rasmussen to present him with recent report that government passed on annual... on the annual national program, which also shows our commitment and all the efforts that have been invested in, along the course of meeting all the necessary items on our agenda to receive eventual invitation to become a member of NATO.
I absolutely share the vision of Mr. Rasmussen in terms that Montenegro future is within the European Union, is within NATO. And I absolutely share the view that NATO is the guarantor of peace and security in our region. So we have to continue a joint work in communicating that message to the people of Montenegro. It means that we will continue with activities that would show all the advantages, all the benefits that Montenegro can have from such an integration process.
I assume we will expand that communication strategy into opening NATO info centres in Montenegro in cooperation with the NGO, because we believe that civil sector could also play an important role in this particular initiative.
We have to do a joint work in presenting all the advantages which are linked to the economic progress, which are linked to the rule of law, which are linked to further institution development.
And those activities will suggest that Montenegro is a modern country that shares European values; by sharing European values, is able and ready to take responsibility for the decisions we make. Although we are a small country, we believe that small countries could put an important added value.
Montenegro is currently sharing several regional initiatives. One of those is the American Adriatic Charter, and through that facility we are actually trying to contribute further to the effectiveness of the peacekeeping missions. And I believe that at the moment in which we will transfer the responsibility for sharing those institutions to other countries, those countries will have the huge task of repeating our efforts.
And I'm very glad for the possibility that today we had time to go through important topics which are related to Montenegro-NATO cooperation. Thank you very much.
OANA LUNGESCU: Any questions please, don't forget to identify yourselves and say who you are addressing your question too.
Q: Laurent Tomé with l'Agence France Presse. Secretary General, yesterday, the Libyan opposition called for foreign nations to launch air strikes on Gaddafi mercenaries, what is your response to that request. And secondly, the Arab League expressed support for a no fly zone, although it expressed also opposition to a direct military intervention. Is NATO making contingency plans for that eventuality?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: First of all, we follow and monitor the situation closely, take note of requests forwarded. Second point, we also note the fact that the UN Security Council resolution does not include the use of armed forces. And thirdly, within NATO our military authorities do prudent planning for all eventualities. I'd like to stress that NATO doesn't have any intention to intervene. But as a defence alliance and security organization we do prudent planning for all eventualities. That planning takes place within the framework of the UN Security Council resolution.
OANA LUNGESCU: (INAUDIBLE)
Q: Hi, I'm Alexandra Boetić (?) from National TV of Montenegro. And I would like to ask Mr. Rasmussen, according to our efforts so far in Euro-Atlantic integration what could you say when we could become a NATO membership and how close we are to the NATO membership in this time?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I think it's premature to outline any timetable. But I welcome the progress we have seen in the cooperation between Montenegro and NATO. As you know, by the end of 2009, we granted Montenegro status as a Membership Action Plan country. Within that Action Plan, Montenegro has presented its first so-called annual national program. That program was received very positively by NATO allies.
We have seen clear progress in Montenegro. I think we all realize there is still some work to do. So now let's focus on the Membership Action Plan to reach the full potential of cooperation within that Membership Action Plan. And then we will see. So my conclusion is: it's premature to outline a timetable; but we appreciate the progress we have seen already.