Joint press point
with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović
President Djukanović, dear Milo, welcome so much to the NATO Headquarters.
It is always a great pleasure to meet with you.
Montenegro is a highly valued Ally. With a seat at our table, and an equal voice in shaping our decisions.
You make important contributions to Euro-Atlantic security.
Providing troops to our training mission in Afghanistan. And financial support to the Afghan Security Forces.
You also contribute to NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. Building stability in the Western Balkans.
And I welcome that Montenegro is increasing defence spending, with a clear plan to invest 2% of GDP in defence by 2024.
Just as NATO can count on Montenegro, Montenegro can also count on NATO.
Our Trust Fund in Montenegro is helping to destroy more than 400 tonnes of surplus ammunition.
And our air policing mission ensures the safety of your skies. With jets from Italy and Greece.
Mr. President, you are a strong champion of NATO’s Open Door policy. Last month, we took an important step in welcoming a new member to our Alliance – the Republic of North Macedonia.
All 29 Allies have signed the Accession Protocol. And the ratification process continues in Allied capitals. Once all Allies have ratified the Protocol, we will welcome the Republic of North Macedonia as NATO's 30th member.
I want to thank Montenegro for promoting stability in the Western Balkans.
And demonstrating that NATO’s door remains open.
Today, we discussed NATO’s continued adaptation.
We will continue to boost the readiness of our forces. And step up in the fight against terrorism by training local forces.
We also discussed Russia. We agreed that our dual-track policy of deterrence and defence combined with dialogue is the right one.
So President Djukanović, thank you again for Montenegro’s contributions to NATO.
I look forward to welcoming you to the meeting of Allied leaders in London at the end of this year.
So once again, welcome.
Milo Đukanović [President of Montenegro]: Dear Secretary General, dear Jens, first of all, I would like to thank you for the warm welcome, here in the Headquarters of NATO. It is a great pleasure for me that we maintain this dialogue. And I particularly am happy that we have this continuous dialogue in the year that is the year of the 70th Anniversary of NATO, the year that confirms that NATO is a guarantee of stability for its Allies and for the world. As you mentioned, we will confirm in December in London all the values that NATO was founded on. And we will confirm the dedication to work on keeping the NATO as the key axis of the global stability. Thank you for the words of recognition and for thanking us for the contribution that we have been giving to NATO in the last two years. We firmly believe in the heritage of NATO and we are putting efforts to contribute, as the youngest member, as much as we can to the upgrading of those values. We have been doing this through maintaining and upgrading our own stability and through promoting the Euro-Atlantic system of values in the region of the Western Balkan and you know that that region has the reputation of an unstable region in Europe. It seems to us that we are doing a good job, because we think that now the region is more stable as well as its prospects to become European Union members. As a member state we are also responsible in meeting our commitments. I want to confirm, with pleasure that we comply with a dynamic plan for taking more equal burden or sharing the burden. You know we submitted a plan and I’m willing to repeat here that I believe that we will comply with that plan fully. And I believe that thanks to a dynamic growth of the GDP we will be in the position to . . . do more . . . and to take full responsibility. And, I can tell you that we also meet all our commitments in the international missions and that the number of our representatives in international NATO missions is increasing. So last year, we took new responsibilities in Kosovo and in Latvia and we also took the obligation and sent to the parliament the protocol related to our participation in the mission in Iraq. So thanks to all of that I can say that Montenegro is confirming that it is a responsible Ally and we continue playing the important role of confirming the Euro-Atlantic values in the Western Balkans. I want to thank you for your persistence in helping the agreement between Greece and Northern Macedonia. I think it’s a contribution to the regional stability and it opened the clear prospects of membership in NATO for Macedonia. And in that way I think we all showed that we work actively on the open door policy. We as Montenegro were among the first four countries who ratified the protocol for Macedonia. And we hope that very soon Montenegro will stop being the youngest member of NATO. We also think that we should continue working on the solution of remaining problems in the region. And it seems to us that this experience of the solution of the problem between Macedonia and Greece can be very good and it can be used for solving the problem between Belgrade and Pristina. As a responsible and very interested neighbour, we are putting efforts in helping the positive epilogue being achieved. I believe it is possible, and I invite NATO to continue being active in our region and to cooperate with the European Union on contributing to something that will prove to be the only reliable formula of stability of the Western Balkans. We believe that between the members, or membership of each of our country in the European Union and NATO and stability in the region, we can put the equality sign, it is the same thing. Of course, there are third parties interested in the Western Balkans. In a way we can say that they have the legitimate interest, not always the legitimate measures, unfortunately. We have had experience, we had one in 2016, we talked about this many times, but I would like to confirm here that we are very willing and I think we managed to show that we are also capable with . . . regardless of our size, to bravely defend our right to choose our path to the future and to defend our choice. And our choice is to make Montenegro a full-fledged member and a part of the Western civilisation and to implement the European system of values, firmly, and not only in our country but we want to be the encouragement to all other countries in the Western Balkans to do that, because that’s the only part, in our opinion, to see the improved standard of living in our region and stability.
Oana Lungescu [NATO spokesperson]: We’ll take on question from Popjeda, first lady in the beige coat, yeah.
Question: Montenegrin daily, Popjeda. As the President mentioned, the Montenegrin Council for Security and Defence, he has decided to send two soldiers to new NATO mission to Iraq. So can we have your comment on that and what are your expectations for Montenegrin soldiers there? Thank you.
Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: First of all, I welcome very much the decision by Montenegro to contribute to the NATO training mission in Iraq because this is an important mission. The purpose of the mission is to train the Iraqi forces to help them to modernise and to strengthen their capabilities, their capacity, to make sure that ISIL, Daesh, never is able to come back and, and . . . and again become a real threat to Iraq, but also to NATO Allies. An NATO strongly believes that the best way to fight terrorism is to train local forces, enable them to stabilise their own country. And that’s the reason why we do training, assisting and advising in Afghanistan and also why we train soldiers in Iraq. So I . . . I very much welcome the contribution of . . . of the . . . of Montenegro to our training mission in Iraq.
Oana Lungescu: Second very quick question to our Georgian colleague.
Question: Georgian TV Company, Rustavi 2. Secretary General, you will visit Georgia this month, and we will have military exercises. On another hand, we saw Russia’s Defence Minister’s statement regarding this issue. So how important for NATO and for Georgia such kind of cooperation, and if you can tell us more details about your visit, your meetings in Georgia. Thank you.
Jens Stoltenberg: I will visit Georgia later on this month. And that’s part of the regular strong partnership, political dialogue, I have, we have, with Georgia. I will meet with the political leadership in Georgia, and I will also visit and see the joint NATO-Georgia exercise. This is an exercise which we have regularly and it illustrates that NATO and Georgia we are close partners, we provide support to Georgia, we help with reform and with modernising their armed forces; but at the same time Georgia provides a lot of support to NATO, participating in different NATO missions and operations, not least in Afghanistan, but also in different NATO exercises. So, it is good for Georgia, it’s good for NATO that we work closely together and that we have close practical cooperation, but also close political cooperation. So, I’ve been in Georgia several times before, I’m looking forward to go back once again.
Oana Lungescu: Thank you very much. This concludes this press point. Thank you.
Jens Stoltenberg: Thank you so much.