by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Ministers session with Montenegro
Good morning. I think we are ready to start and welcome to all of you.
And today, we will take an historic decision.
At the Wales Summit, our Heads of State and Government tasked us to consider whether Montenegro is ready for membership in our Alliance.
In taking this decision, you will be inviting Montenegro to begin the process to join us around this table as a full member of the NATO Alliance.
We have also prepared a broader statement on our Open Door policy, which outlines the accomplishments of our aspirant countries, and the next steps we envision in our relationship with them.
I now ask you to confirm that we have consensus to invite Montenegro to begin accession talks to join our Alliance and to issue this statement to the public.
Can you confirm that we have consensus?
[PAUSE TO CONFIRM CONSENSUS.]
I see that we have. So thank you.
NATO’s Open Door Policy has helped to spread security, stability, and the democratic values for which the Alliance stands.
We are stronger, more effective as an Alliance because our door has remained open.
Let me now invite the representatives of Montenegro Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Igor Luksic and Minister of Defence Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic to join us for the next meeting.
I think they are ready to join us. And then we see Frank-Walter Steinmeier (laughter). But you are already a member. (laughter)
[THE MONTENEGRIN REPRESENTATIVES ENTER THE ROOM.]
Welcome and good morning to both of you.
NATO Foreign Ministers have just taken a historic decision.
To invite Montenegro to start accession talks to become the twenty-ninth member of our Alliance.
We congratulate the government of Montenegro and the people of Montenegro on their efforts, and on their achievement.
This is a good day for Montenegro, a good day for the Western Balkans, and a good day for the whole Alliance.
Well before Montenegro became independent in 2006, your country embarked on a unique journey.
To re-establish itself as a sovereign country.
To consolidate its democratic institutions in accordance with European standards.
And to strengthen the rule of law.
And to re-integrate with the rest of the continent.
Since 2009, NATO and Montenegro have worked closely together through the Membership Action Plan.
We have had substantial discussions on reform, on regional security and on many other topics.
All through these years, we saw your country’s unwavering commitment to our common values and to international security.
Today, we see the concrete results of this commitment.
Of course this is not the end of the road.
Important work remains to be done.
On defence adaptation.
On domestic reform, especially Rule of law.
And to continue to make progress in demonstrating public support for Montenegro’s NATO membership.
These are issues that we will continue to monitor as we start the accession talks and during the ratification process.
Montenegro’s accession to NATO will be another important step in the Euro-Atlantic integration of the entire Western Balkans region.
And it makes clear that NATO keeps its door open, to complete our vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace.
And therefore I am very glad to have you both here, to have Foreign Minister Luksic and Defence Minister Pejanovic-Durisic with us today at this meeting to celebrate this milestone.
We look forward to welcoming you as a member of our Alliance.
Minister Luksic, you have been here many times before, but this is the first time after we have decided to invite you to become a full member, so welcome, it’s great to see you again, so you have the floor. Please.
Igor Lukšić (Montenegro Minister of Foreign Affairs): Thank you very much Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies, a very good morning to you all. It’s a true honour and privilege to address you at this historical meeting for my country.
We’re both humbled and excited with your decision to invite Montenegro to join the Alliance. It is recognition of our great efforts, energy and dedication implementing reforms to qualify for membership. Throughout this process as partners we have forged a relationship based on understanding and sense of common purpose.
Today we’re opening a new chapter for deeper closer bonds as allies. We’re proud of what we have achieved in just nine years since we joined Partnership for Peace. This is indeed a great day for my country, I believe a well-deserved one. I’m confident this is an equally important moment for the Alliance.
By opening your door to Montenegro both literally and symbolically you have shown why this alliance is so vital and strong. The invitation to Montenegro is great news for the western Balkans as well for strengthening of its security and stability. This is a good signal for our region which will have one more friend in the Euroatlantic family.
Ladies and gentlemen we are fully aware that invitation is not the end of the process but the beginning of a new one. We want to complete tasks in the accession period with equal success. So rest assured Montenegro is fully committed to continuation of reforms with the same intensity and a new vigor.
We’ll continue building, further track record record in fighting organized crime and corruption making sure we have an overwhelming public support for membership and further adapt the defense sector. We are determined to constantly improve and work tirelessly not to please others but to change our society for the better.
These are very sensitive and challenging times for the Alliance, we understand that unity and solidarity are needed now more than ever. I can assure you that Montenegro already acts as a 29th member in giving its contribution to Euroatlantic stability. We stand ready to share the burden and stand shoulder to shoulder with the allies.
Dear colleagues I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank you, thank all of you and you Mr. Secretary General and your staff for being with us every step of the way. We wouldn’t be here without you. Next May Montenegro is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its independence. I’d like to invite all of you and your high officials to visit Montenegro and celebrate this important date with us.
Dear friends by inviting Montenegro to join NATO you’ve made the right decision we vow to be a member you’ll be all proud of. Let’s paraphrase a famous movie sentence I think this is a beginning of a beautiful Alliance. Thank you.
Secretary General: Thank you and once again welcome and you’re right, this is really the beginning of a very beautiful Alliance. So welcome again and now we’ll ask the media to leave the room so we continue the other part of the meeting.