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8th To Be Secure (2BS) Forum, which gathers more than 400 participants from all over the world, opened today in Budva. The message is sent that Montenegro is the leader of integration in the Western Balkans, however, the reforms should continue.


Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Palmer, said that it is always a pleasure to be in Montenegro.


Congratulating Milo Đukanović on taking over the position of the President of the country, Palmer said that a year after the accession of Montenegro to the Alliance, we must think about further steps and goals, such as European integration and Euro-Atlantic integration of countries of the region.


In his opinion, Montenegro is leading the process of the EU integration, while official Podgorica, according to him, should implement reforms in order to root out the organized crime. Commenting on the attack on journalist of Vijesti, Olivera Lakić, Palmer said that event reminds on the importance of the media.


Palmer said that Montenegro should encourage an atmosphere where media can perform their role bearing in mind that free media is the basis for democracy, while the ruling parties should lead this process.


“Democratic processes should further develop outside the Government, NGOs should be active, while the press should fulfill its obligations, report accurately and professionally, and distinguish between the opinion and news," Palmer said.


Speaking about the name issue between Greece and Macedonia, Palmer said the USA will do everything to support reaching of the agreement, so that Skopje would officially continue further integration to NATO.


In his words, there are a lot of challenges in BiH, and the nationalist rhetoric is a concern. As he said, it is the inability of leaders that keeps BiH away from the European track.


“BiH integration into Euro-Atlantic structures is something that guarantees our security”, Palmer said.


In his words, normalization between Serbia and Kosovo has an enormous potential, which is why it is extremely important to continue the dialogue.


“We are glad that Serbia, along with Montenegro, has been identified as a leader of European integration. Kosovo is making progress as well, it is a young democracy. Priština is making significant progress in fight against organized crime and corruption”, Palmer pointed out.


He stressed that the USA cannot come back to the Balkans because it never even left it.


“We are dedicated to long-term partnerships, we want Europe that is advanced and solid, and the Balkans as a part of it. We want for values that we share to be integrated into your institutions. We will continue to provide support to improvement of reforms, the rule of law and border safety in order to fight against the crime and corruption“, Palmer said.


President of the Government of Montenegro, Duško Marković, said that today Montenegro is in a position to discuss as a NATO member, which is also a guarantee of our sovereignty and economic growth.


Marković said that this year we have 20% more tourists compared to the same period last year. He also believes that Montenegro is on a stable path.


“Changed geopolitics in the Balkans is a burden for the region, but it is important to recognize positive trends. We are witnesses that there are attempts to prevent the region from a part of the EU and NATO. That is why it is important to work on full implementation of this vision”, Marković said.


In his words, Montenegro understands this very well, thus, our goals from the very beginning have been the EU and NATO.


No one can do our job instead of us. We must solve issues on our own and implement difficult reform. We are proud that Montenegro is leading the negotiation process. We are aware that the membership is based on the results and depends solely on us“, Marković said.


President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro, Savo Kentera, reminded that a year ago Montenegro became a NATO member, stating that a lot more time will pass before we start living in accordance with values of the Alliance. Kentera stated that there is still room for optimism.


“We are witnessing the comeback of the USA, Great Britain and other countries to the area of the Western Balkans, in order to prove that this area remains sphere of interest of western countries”, Kentera said, stating that Europe must take initiative when it comes to enlargement process.


Montenegro, in his words, created good preconditions for the EU membership.


“The EU membership will not happen by chance. There is still a lot of work ahead of us, primarily on strengthening of institutions of the system, the fight against organized crime and corruption and media freedom," Kentera said.


He believes that Montenegro will have the strength and wisdom to choose the right path, stating that Montenegro's pursuit of its path will not be suitable for some countries. We are witnessing, as he said, disinformation campaigns as well.


Kentera also assessed that the Western Balkans is the weakest point in Europe, which makes the presence of the United States and Great Britain of crucial importance, in order to keep in mind that the Western Balkans will not be left to anyone.



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