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Miodrag Vlahovic, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro:Union of sovereign states is good for relations within Montenegro as well

Published date: 10.01.2005 12:38 | Author: Intervjui

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Proposal of the official Podgorica on union of independent states with Serbia does not only concern the establishment of relations with Belgrade, but could also represent a bridge between the opposed blocks in Montenegro, Montenegrin Minister of Foreign Affairs Miodrag Vlahovic assessed today.

"This model gives us an opportunity to stay with Serbia, which is the prime request of the minority, but significant political part of Montenegro, and on the other hand it will help us realise a logical political project and the request of the indisputable majority - to become a sovereign state", Vlahovic said in an interview with MINA news agency.

He said that it could be a bridge between the opposed blocks and a chance for a historical consensus in Montenegro that would confirm its democratic potentials, assessing that such model would help avoid a political game that would result with one side as an absolute looser and the other as an absolute winner.

"If the idea on the union of independent states is not realised, not even the referendum itself should be seen as a judgment day", said Vlahovic and estimated that, due to lack of the concrete results in functioning of the existing state union, Brussels would concentrate more on that idea.

Asked if the international community was trying to solve the problem of Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia in one package, he said that the issue of Montenegrin independence was the smallest problem in the region, but was in a shadow not only of Kosovo issue, but of Serbia as well, which is more and more seen as the biggest problem in the region.

He added that Montenegro was asked to be patient so that some bigger problems in the region could be solved, or the process of reaching solution launched, and then Montenegro could be put on the agenda.

He assessed that the Brussels administration had changed its stance towards Montenegro's independence to a great extent, and no longer holds "firm" position towards that possibility, but views the situation in the region in a more realistic manner.

"It is not so obvious, but significant change of attitude, which however does not affect its basic view that the state union is still seen as one address and one subject of the international law", head of Montenegrin diplomacy explained.

Vlahovic claimed that the foreign policy function of Montenegro was fully preserved, assessing that the Belgrade Agreement stipulates that the task of Foreign Ministry of state union was to coordinate the work of the organs of member states in charge of foreign affairs.

According to him, the problem was that, officially, Serbia did not have its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Foreign Ministry of the state union was acting as if it was a Serbian one.

"Foreign policy functions of Montenegro are preserved and recognised internationally. Montenegro is clearly recognised as such and we communicate with our foreign policy partners on equal bases", he said.

To support this, Vlahovic gave example of the participation of Montenegrin delegation o=in annual UN General Assembly in New York in September 2004, as well as the participation in OSCE Ministerial Conference in Sofia in December last year.

Speaking about the recent initiative of Montenegro to be granted twin track approach for admission to NATO's Partnership for Peace program, he admitted that it was still not possible, but explained that Podgorica believed that it would be necessary to clearly "individualise responsibility" for non-cooperation with the Hague Tribunal.

"Serbia is, beyond any doubt, responsible for non-cooperation with the Hague Tribunal. We believe that it would be useful to delimitated responsibility and give a chance to those ready to cooperate, since it would be better to encourage those who fulfill their obligations", Vlahovic said.

He explained that it was better to encourage then punish additionally those who are not ready to cooperate, which would be counterproductive and would consequently strengthen retrograde forces in Serbia.