Interview of H.E. Mr. Miodrag Vlahovic, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Montenegro, to daily Danas
The acting head of the International Commission for Balkans and the former premier of Italy ,Giuliano Amato, has recently concluded that European Union is treating Balkans is if it were one of its colonies. He also warns that saving the State Union (of Serbia and Montenegro) does not provide for the stability in Europe. What do you think of these remarks?We are talking about a very experienced politician, whose opinions and proposals certainly deserve our attention. The State Union is really passé'. You will soon go on a one-day visit to Albania. Could you please tell us what the nature of this visit is, and what you think about the relations between Montenegro and Albania?Relations between Albania and Montenegro are very good, and are constantly improving on all levels. A good example are the meetings of two countries' highest officials that took place during the recent visit of president Mojsiua (the president of Albania) to Montenegro, which is in a historical sense the first visit of an Albanian president to Montenegro. This visit was a follow-up to a successful visit of the president Vujanović to Tirana, six months ago. The upcoming working visit to Tirana is a result of Minister Islami's and ours - mutual commitment to improve our relations through a continuous and open dialogue, and to take advantage of every opportunity to acquaint one another with attitudes and views on events and processes taking place in our countries, and the region as a whole. I suppose that Kosovo will be one of the topics of discussion with your Albanian colleague. The official position of Montenegrin government is that solving the status of Kosovo is not a responsibility of Montenegro. It would however be interesting to hear your opinion whether the independence of Kosovo is just a matter of time as this is a popular topic these days, even in Belgrade.Kosovo is certainly a topic of immense importance, although it does not represent a priority for the Montenegrin side. Kosovo is not a Montenegrin problem - in a sense that Montenegro is not interested to be involved in negotiations about its future status. It is not Montenegros place to be a negotiating side, nor is there a need or an interest to be involved, which is a fact, known and acknowledged in the region, and by the international community. This, of course, does not mean that Montenegro is not interested, and does not carefully follow the situation in Kosovo, and developments related to it. Whatever solution be recognized as the most acceptable one or the least negative one if you will - the most important thing for Kosovo and for the future of all of us in the region will be that the final status be reached in a peaceful and democratic manner, with full and equal participation of all sides involved, especially the citizens of Kosovo Serbs and Albanians themselves. It is also very important that special attention be paid to protecting minority rights and establishing a system where the minorities will enjoy a special protection. In reality, the problem of Kosovo is in a historical sense really a consequence of the continuous incapability and indifference of the political elite of majority, to understand the needs, rights, and interests of minority. I dont know whether a solution to the final status of Kosovo is a matter of day, but I am sure that people and political groups in Kosovo, and in Serbia itself, that are ready to courageously and openly battle the issue like Mr. Svilanovic has - need to be given a chance and the necessary support. What are your relations to Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro Vuk Draskovic? Does he consult with you before he visits foreign states to learn the position of Montenegro on certain issues? - I wish I had something new and different to tell you on this topic. Our relations are good in every aspect except in the line of the work Mr. Draskovic and I currently perform. Last September in New York, and later on in Sofia, I had an opportunity to talk to him about this and other subjects, such as the fact that Serbia formally does not have its foreign ministry but uses joint one as its own. However, we all know that it is not the fault of my Serb colleague that there is no Foreign Ministry of Serbia, and that he is not responsible for many other moves of the Serbian Government that could not be qualified as constructive towards Montenegro. However, it is not in our interest, especially know, less than a year before our independence, to insist on doing that simple and logical thing - to eliminate, in wider political sense, an imminently paternalistic and colonialist attitude towards Montenegro that characterizes the policy of the Foreign Ministry of the state union. It has always been my pleasure to support Mr. Draskovic when he promotes full cooperation of Serbia with the international community and in such attitudes and efforts he can count on understanding and sincere support of Montenegro. Do Montenegrin diplomats abroad have a possibility to advocate the interests of Montenegro, or official Belgrade obstructs such efforts?- I would need more space for a more detailed response. To make it short they do not have a lot of opportunity to do that, but they use the opportunities they have successfully only in a way that it does not harm or threatens the interests of Serbia. What are the relations between Montenegro and its neighboring countries, i.e. former Yugoslav republics? Does Montenegro have any open issues with them?-The relations are very good indeed and they improve all the time. Good-neighborly relations are the foundation of Montenegrin foreign policy and that is why, in past ten months or so, we had numerous, very useful meetings with diplomacies in the area of former Yugoslavia. Personally, I would highlight as very important the visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, when we visited Srebrenica the memorial in Potocari- because we want to have an active role in the process of reconciliation and normalization of the relations between peoples and states in the area of former Yugoslavia. Unambiguous condemnation of all war crimes and criminals on one side, and promotion of the multiethnic and multi-religious values on the other, represent the only possible healthy base on which it is possible to build the future of our countries. What are your planned foreign policy activities?- A lot of activities are in preparation. After the visit to Albania, we expect meetings with Danish foreign Minister, as well as visit to Strasbourg. After that, we have a Ministerial Conference of Adriatic Ionic Initiative in Cetinje in first week of June. We should go to Slovakia after that, and then to Brussels and the USA. As you can see, in the last months before the referendum, we intend to intensify our diplomatic activities.