Friday, May 19, 2006
INTERVIEW OF MILO DJUKANOVIC, PRIME MINISTER OF MONTENEGRO TOTHE MAGAZINE “EUROPE DIPLOMATIC NEWS’’
1.Mr. Djukanovic, you have the reputation of one time youngest Prime Minister in Europe and also you have held this important office for a number of terms. This means that you are a true politician by vocation and that you are very successful in this, given that you are extremely popular among the citizens of Montenegro. How do you explain this mood among the Montenegrins: by reforms that you have conducted; promises you have made for the future; results you have already achieved?
I believe that confidence that the citizens of Montenegro place in the in the policy that we as Montenegro’s leadership pursue is based on a combination of all these elements you have mentioned.
Going through a host of difficulties over the last decade and a half Montenegro resisted numerous temptations and pressures at the hands of the Milosevic dictatorial regime. At a time when in our Balkan neighbourhood we had fierce inter-religious and interethnic conflicts, Montenegro managed to preserve inter-religious and interethnic tolerance and hold out against Milosevic’s intent to draw Montenegro, too, into his conflict with NATO in 1999. So Montenegro remained the only ex-Yugoslav republic on whose territory no war was waged.
When it achieved security and political stability after the fall of the Milosevic regime and the 2002 Parliamentary election, Montenegro devoted itself to comprehensive social and economic reforms.
Consequently, we gained and kept our citizen’s trust by making promises that were realistic and by keeping them. At the same time we were conducting reforms that produced results, which are now becoming more and more visible. That is why I am confident that the policy that we pursue will continue to enjoy a strong support of the citizens.
2. What are your future plans in regard of development of Montenegro? In regard of tourism? In regard of industry? In regard of culture?
3. In some quarters there is a belief that Montenegro, if it becomes independent, will not have a sustainable economy without Serbia. Your answer to this dilemma?
There is no room for such a dilemma since arguments prove that Montenegro is a completely viable system. It is absolutely certain that Montenegro, with a population of about 670,000, can make quite a good living using the resources it has for development of tourism and services, and then of agriculture and other sectors. As I have already said, in addition to security and political stability, we have also achieved macroeconomic stability, creating institutional framework for an accelerated economic development. I will mention just a few data that illustrate macroeconomic stability, which, at the same time, best evidence Montenegro’s capability to pursue economic development on its own. The inflation rate, measured by growth of retail prices, for the first 11 months of this year was 1.7 percents and the budget deficit was below 2 percents, i.e. at the level of the euro zone countries. We are registering growth of GDP and growth of industrial output. The number of unemployed persons is decreasing – now they are 49,000, or about 30,000 less than three years ago, when this government took office.
4. How do you comment on the position of the EU on the wish of Montenegrins to become completely independent and be in charge of their future in a way they want? How can one persuade them that two states, Serbia and Montenegro, can live their destinies on their own, as friendly neighbours and in peace?
Our determination to regain independence is well thought out. Such a choice is no belated whim of national-romanticism, but the expression of our wish and our need to take full charge of our European future.
Our experience of the last fifteen years or so of a dual federation with Serbia has shown that such a disproportionate union cannot be efficient and functional. In such a union, fifteen to eighteen times bigger Serbia has the need to dominate and Montenegro does not want such a position.
Besides, during various phases Montenegro was held hostage of the policy pursued in Serbia and in the first place of the insufficient Serbia’s cooperation with the Hague Tribunal. We do not want the position of a hostage.
That is why Montenegro is determined to restore its statehood in order to take full responsibility for managing its European future. By end of April 2006 at the latest we will exercise the right provided for by the Belgrade Agreement and the Constitutional Charter and organize a democratic referendum in which the citizens will pronounce themselves on the state status of Montenegro.
Montenegro will undoubtedly achieve its strategic national interests and these are taking charge of its European future and membership of European and Euro-Atlantic integrations.
We believe that such a solution is also in the best interest of Serbia. We believe that Serbia, too, should take charge of its European future and address its own issues. Serbia is the biggest state in the region, therefore it has the greatest impact on the regional stability. So, whatever our status, it has to be in our interest to have democratic and European processes taking place there in order that a democratic and European Serbia can be the factor of stability in the Balkans. And Serbia will be democratic and European when it becomes an independent state.
Our openness for building close relations with Serbia in future, too, has been demonstrated by a very concrete offer we have made to Serbia proposing establishment of a union of independent states of Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia, however, has rejected this initiative and the citizens of Montenegro will in a democratic referendum determine the status of their state. I am confident that their decision will convincingly be in favour of independence.