President of Montenegro

Speech made to the Assembly

Monday, 1 October 2007

Mr President, Secretary General, distinguished members of parliament, ladies and gentleman, it is a great pleasure and honour for me to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as the President of the Republic of Montenegro. I express my sincere gratitude for this opportunity.

It has been almost four months since Montenegro became a member of the Council of Europe and during the year that preceded accession, we demonstrated our determination to be a responsible and active member of this truly pan-European Organisation. That will continue to be our lasting commitment and interest. Montenegro appreciates support and assistance for its membership, as well as for the reforms achieved in line with the standards of the Council of Europe.

We express our appreciation to the experts of the Council of Europe, especially the Venice Commission. We are also grateful to the Parliamentary Assembly and its rapporteurs who recommended our accession to the Council of Europe, indicating at the same time our most important commitments in the future. I would like to assure you once more that we are sincerely devoted to honouring those commitments and achieving the goals and overall mission of the Council of Europe.

“Montenegro is willing to fulfill all assumed commitments in a diligent and persistent manner for the benefit of our citizens and the region as a whole.”

Recent accession to the Council of Europe has given fresh and highly important encouragement for the unstoppable process of the integration of Montenegro in European structures, with full respect for democracy and the rule of law and affirmation of all European values.

Both in region and time, Montenegro is exposed to many challenges that call for maximum respect for a civic, open and democratic society. By overcoming the differences and demonstrating that a common interest is priceless, we will continue to be an example of multi-ethnic and multireligious harmony that guarantees our European future. During the dissolution of former Yugoslavia, Montenegro demonstrated that such harmony was its greatest value, which made it possible for us to preserve peace, human life and material goods. As a result of disharmony, we provided shelter for many refugees, who enjoyed our hospitality regardless of their national or religious affiliation.

At the referendum on the state’s status, which was organised in line with the highest European standards, we demonstrated to the international community a high level of democratic maturity, which should be our everlasting value. Embracing and implementing the Council of Europe’s standards in all areas, particularly with regard to the protection of human and minority rights, guarantees that and other values, as well as the European integration of Montenegro.

Montenegro has been aware of its responsibility with regard to its future and the European future of the region. Our strategic and constant priority on foreign policy is to affirm that we have good neighbourly relations and regional co-operation. Wider integrations are not possible without that regional co-operation. Bearing in mind past events that marked the western Balkans, the affirmation of friendship and regional co-operation is a crucial obligation for all countries in that part of Europe. It is also of great interest to Europe that we facilitate and speed up the integration of the western Balkans because Europe will have the full value of its integration only if those countries are part of such a Europe.

In respect of good neighbourly relations and regional co-operation, Montenegro is proud that it has no open issues with its neighbours and that it participates in numerous regional initiatives and organisations. After becoming a member of the south-eastern European co-operation process in May this year, Montenegro also became a member of almost all regional organisations in the framework of the Adriatic-Ionian initiative last June, thus gaining the possibility of contributing to achieving their goals.

Montenegro is proud that it has demonstrated to the international community its commitment to respect and promote full protection of human rights and the rule of law. We have also co-operated fully with The Hague tribunal, being aware of the importance of the reconciliation process in the western Balkan region. We believe that the international community has recognised our commitment to achieve its integration goals as soon as possible, while respecting the highest international standards.

The fight against organised crime and illegal migration is at the top of our agenda. The governmental national commission for the execution of the action plan for the implementation of the programme of the fight against corruption and organised crime was recently established in Montenegro. It will certainly contribute to the importance and dynamics of this imperative national commitment. Montenegro’s readiness to curb illegal migration has also been confirmed by signing the readmission agreement with the European Union, by which we became partners in this significant process.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured by your invitation to address the Assembly, and I would like to underline once again that Montenegro is willing to fulfil all assumed commitments in a diligent and persistent manner. We will do that to achieve a highly developed democratic society that is ready to be an equal partner and member of the family of European countries and nations. I express my gratitude to all of you who have continuously supported reform and democratic processes in Montenegro.

I am sure that Montenegro will keep on demonstrating its devotion to European values and, with the assistance of the Council of Europe and other European organisations, will proceed on its path of democratic and overall development to the benefit of its citizens and the region as a whole. Therefore, Montenegro will continue to be a reliable partner in improving the goals and promoting the values of the Council of Europe.

Thank you for your attention.


Thank you, Mr Vujanović. I will now allow one question from each of the political groups. The first question is from Mr Manzella, on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr MANZELLA (Italy) (interpretation)

appreciated the remarks made by the President and praised the multi-religious and multi-ethnic society of Montenegro. He asked whether it was realistic to expect Montenegro to integrate fully into the European Union. He suggested that the Balkan states might adopt a regional approach to integration, which he believed could resolve regional tension in the area.

Mr Vujanović, President of Montenegro (interpretation)

said that he appreciated the remarks made by Mr Manzilla. A multi-ethnic society was the past, present and future of Montenegro. The harmony of Montenegrin society had enabled the country to offer shelter to many refugees displaced by the dissolution of Yugoslavia. His country was committed to integration within the European Union. However, while he had not set a deadline for achieving the European Union’s standards, he wanted to achieve those as soon as possible. Montenegro’s other goal was to be involved within NATO. He greatly appreciated the support of the Council of Europe.


The next question is from Mr Mota Amaral, on behalf of the European People’s Party. Please, no statements; only questions.

Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal)

Mr. President, please accept the greetings of the EPP group and our best wishes for your country. Do you think that Montenegro’s peaceful accession to full independence – by the way, that has proved successful – and its experience of political dialogue, mutual agreement and respect for democracy should be considered as an absolute benchmark for the solution of other separatist claims in Europe?

Mr Vujanović, President of Montenegro (interpretation)

expressed his pleasure that the referendum in Montenegro had taken place in accordance with the highest principles of the European Union. The European Union requirements for the referendum had been very strict. He was proud that both the ruling and opposition parties, as well as the public and other political stakeholders in Montenegro, had all accepted the outcome. Four weeks after the referendum, Montenegro had been accepted into the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Five weeks after the referendum, it had been accepted into the United Nations. Montenegro had been internationally recognised by all countries. Montenegro had co-operated with the Council of Europe to implement the common values of the Council of Europe and the international community more widely. Montenegrins were the proud inheritors of a democratic tradition. That sent a good message that issues could be resolved democratically. The willingness of all parties to accept the results of the referendum in Montenegro would lead the way for other countries in south-east Europe.


Thank you. The next question is from Mr Eörsi, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. He is not here, so I call Baroness Knight on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Baroness KNIGHT (United Kingdom)

There is no doubt that we all warmly endorse the welcome from the President of the Assembly to you, Mr President. We are delighted to have you here and it was a privilege to listen to you. We are particularly interested in your comments on the helping hand that Montenegro gives to immigrants. You mentioned other actions, and I think that we are right in believing that they took place in response to the European Convention on Human Rights. What plans do you have to develop such actions?

Mr Vujanović, President of Montenegro (interpretation)

said that Montenegro had a sincere commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights. The former Yugoslavia had experienced a difficult time and had learned that the commitment to human rights was the greatest challenge for mankind. Montenegro had demonstrated great hospitality towards refugees. That was due to the generosity of its citizens, who offered shelter irrespective of religion or ethnicity. At one time more than 20% of Montenegro’s citizens had been refugees and the global community needed to remember and respect that fact. There were still many refugees in Montenegro and the country did not receive enough international assistance. The state was responsible for supporting those refugees. Montenegro respected all the conventions of the Council of Europe, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights. It appreciated the monitoring role of the Council of Europe and would implement all of the Council’s recommendations.

Mr KOX (Netherlands)

Mr President, you are most welcome in your role representing your new country. You said that the Government of Montenegro is co-operating fully with The Hague tribunal on Yugoslavia. The same was said by the Serbian Government, but we have not yet seen the main war crime suspects such as Mr Mladić and Mr Karadžić in The Hague. What more can you do with your Serbian colleague to ensure that those people appear before The Hague tribunal?

Mr Vujanović, President of Montenegro (interpretation)

said that Montenegro was committed to co-operation with The Hague tribunal. As his speech had shown, Montenegro needed to co-operate with all international tribunals and bodies, including the United Nations Security Council. The country had an interest in bringing all war criminals to justice to promote a better future. Penalties were not only for the criminals, but for the victims who deserved justice. Montenegro had been given a positive assessment of its co-operation in that regard. Serbia had also been given high marks, as its government had affirmed. All countries needed to improve their co-operation and Montenegro was setting a good example. Criminals needed to be extradited to The Hague as quickly as possible so that proceedings could be finalised.


Thank you, Mr President. I thank you especially for your address to this Parliamentary Assembly, the house of democracy, and for your answers to the questions from the political groups. You have shown your strong commitment to Council of Europe obligations, and that you want to play a positive role in the region. I also want to mention that you have strengthened the fight against organised crime and corruption.

I thank you for your strong commitment to Council of Europe values and ask you to consider the implementation of the reform process. I wish you and all your citizens all the best as new members of the Council of Europe.