Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Montenegro Zdravko Krivokapić

  • 23 Nov. 2021 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 24 Nov. 2021 15:56

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Krivokapić,
Dear Zdravko,


It is great to see you again.
This is actually your third visit to the NATO Headquarters.

And it’s really great to be able to sit down with you and to discuss the different challenges we face as the NATO Alliance.

Montenegro is a valued Ally, making important contributions to our shared security.

Your troops serve in NATO’s multinational battlegroup in Latvia.

You also contribute to our KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, helping to build stability in the Western Balkans.

And I welcome that Montenegro is increasing defence spending.

All this shows your strong commitment to NATO.
And Montenegro can always count on NATO.

Our air policing mission continues to keep your skies safe.
With jets from Italy and Greece.

NATO and Allies have also shown strong solidarity and support to Montenegro during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have provided equipment, medical supplies, and financial support through the NATO Pandemic Response Trust Fund and stockpile.

Prime Minister, we also addressed the current security environment.

We continue to see large and unusual concentrations of Russian forces close to Ukraine’s borders.

NATO remains vigilant and we are
monitoring the situation very closely.

We call on Russia to stop its provocations, de-escalate, and be transparent about its military activities.

We also discussed the Western Balkans. Allies strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. So the inflammatory rhetoric in the Republic Srpska is a matter of serious concern.

The unified structures of Bosnia and Herzegovina are important for the stability of the country. In particular the Armed Forces, one of the country’s strongest multi-ethnic institutions.

NATO remains committed to our strong political dialogue and practical cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina.  And we will continue to support reform efforts of the country. For the benefit of its people.

NATO’s open door policy has been a historic success. And it contributes to security in the region.

Montenegro has seen the benefits of being a member of the transatlantic family of nations since you joined the Alliance in 2017.

And I welcome your efforts in promoting stability in the region.

NATO will continue to build stability, security and cooperation in the Western Balkans.
Including our KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
And our offices in Sarajevo and Belgrade.

Prime Minister,

Thank you for being here today.

I look forward to continuing our work together to make our strong Alliance even stronger.

Welcome. It is great to have you here.

Oana Lungescu, NATO Spokesperson:

First question goes to Ivan Mijanovic from Radio and Television of Montenegro.

Ivan Mijanovic, Radio and Television of Montenegro:

Thank you very much.

I have a question for Mr. Secretary General. How do you assess the current relations with Montenegrin Government and where do you see the possibilities for strengthening further the cooperation? 

And for Mr. Krivokapic. How do you comment on the DF platform individually in which there is no option left for you to be prime minister, and are you still an option for URA to be the prime minister of Montenegro?

Thank you very much.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

Well, Montenegro is highly valued Ally and I am actually proud of our Secretary General of NATO when we invited Montenegro to become a member of this Alliance.

And since then Montenegro has proved it’s commitment to NATO, it’s commitment to our collective defence. All the other NATO Allies appreciate Montenegro's contributions to different NATO missions and operations, to our presence in the Baltic region contributing to the NATO Battlegroup in Latvia, and also the way troops and forces from Montenegro participate in different NATO exercises.

I see a potential to further strengthening the work we do together in NATO with Montenegro in particular when it comes to stability in the region.

The Western Balkans is of great importance for - of course Montenegro, - for the region, and also for whole of NATO. It's at the heart of Europe. NATO has a history there. NATO has a presence in the Western Balkans.

And we have seen some developments in the wrong direction over the last years. We are concerned about the situation in Bosnia Herzegovina with inflammatory rhetoric by Mr. Dodik.  And his messages are actually undermining one of the main achievements we are made to create multi-ethnic armed force in Bosnia Herzegovina. Important for Bosnia Herzegovina, important for the whole region, and for all of us.

We also welcome Montenegro's contributions to our efforts in Kosovo. We saw recently how the NATO troops, and KFOR troops - supported also by Montenegro-, work together with EU diplomats and actually able to solve some of the tensions, some of the disputes we saw on the border between Kosovo and Serbia recently.

So we have a long way to go. But we absolutely trust, and fully…we totally rely on Montenegro continuing to be a committed NATO Ally helping us to address the challenges that we face in the Western Balkans.

Then I think that air policing is also an area where we work closely with the Montenegro. It demonstrates how NATO Allies operate together. We have two allies, Greece and Italy, providing air policing in close coordination and cooperation of course with Montenegro. It demonstrates the strength of our Alliances.

And overall the stability that NATO provides is also a precondition for prosperity.

We have seen that Allies, - countries, which have joined NATO-, they have also seen increased investments, more economic prosperity as a result of the stability that NATO provides.

So there are many areas where we believe in stronger cooperation. And we see the benefits of Montenegro being a NATO member. And therefore we're grateful for the many contributions of Montenegro makes to our Alliance.

Zdravko Krivokapic, Prime Minister of Montenegro: 

I'd like to reply. I thought that your question, here at the NATO Headquarters, here in the headquarters of the European Commission would be geared towards Europe, and you're bringing me back to Montenegro. But since I always reply to questions, I will always also reply in a very straightforward manner.

That platform is not intended for Zdravko Krivokapic, that platform has to do with political coalition's which constitute majority. And I salute every decision where 41 MP would present their clear position towards any decision.  I wish luck to anybody who will take over this government, who will replace it or perhaps we'll have new elections.

The most important thing for Montenegro is that we move forward towards programs, so that through various programs we bring rebirth to Montenegro. And it's precisely because this government has clearly put forward its four programs. That these programs are actually aggravating some politicians because these politicians just strive to keep in position. So when it comes to relation with URA, I have had always correct, a good cooperation with Deputy Prime Minister Abazovic. When it comes to the relation of URA towards Prime Minister, you should ask URA.  I'm really not a man who is reading anybody's mind, and I will not be dealing without even if I could. Thank you.

Oana Lungescu, NATO Spokesperson:

We will take a last question from Vijesti Milos Rudović, who is online.

Milos Rudović, Vijesti:

Thank you. I would like to ask a question to the Mr. Secretary General.

Can you comment on the new proposal from the ruling Democratic front about the reconstruction of the Government, that includes that Mr Krivokapic would be replaced from the prime minister post? Would that, in your opinion, affect the cooperation with NATO?

And I would also use this opportunity to ask Mr. Krivokapic to comment on the situation that you mentioned about Mr. Dodik, and the tensions in Bosnia Herzegovina. How he sees the acting of Mr. Dodik. Thank you so much.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

It's not for me as Secretary General of NATO to comment on the domestic political issues in each and every NATO allied country. That’s for the politicians, the party's of Montenegro to address and decide.

What I can say is that I'm confident that Montenegro will remain committed NATO Ally.

That the membership of NATO has helped to also foster economic prosperity creating the conditions the framework for also economic prosperity. And that for instance, the support of NATO Allies and NATO have provided to Montenegro during the pandemic is of course also important for the country in dealing with the consequences of the Corona virus.

Let me also add that the support for NATO, according to the opinion polls, have actually increased over the last months. And I think for me, this is an example demonstration of the fact that yes, of course, in all NATO Allies, there are different opinions about many things. But the NATO rests on support from the people, from the governments in 30 democratic countries, which have decided to stand together and defend each other. Because we are safer when we stand together. And that is also the case for Montenegro.

Zdravko Krivokapic, Prime Minister of Montenegro: 

Montenegro has always been helping everybody, not unhelping anybody.

So perhaps it's easier said than done, but that's the relationship we have towards all of our neighbours.

When it comes to your question that has to do with Mr. Dodik, I think that all of us as responsible people have to seek to resolve problems wherever problems take place.

And most importantly, we mustn't fuel fire where it's unnecessary. Bosnia Herzegovina has clearly defined Dayton Agreement and that's the grounds on which they should be building their future relations.

Oana Lungescu, NATO Spokesperson:

Thank you very much. This concludes this press point.