Montenegro should turn towards West and the Western values, said President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro Savo Kentera at the seminar entitled „The EU, China and the Western Balkans: Challenges and perspectives for the future integration“, which has been organized at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Montenegro.
Kentera emphasized that China benefited from the EU’s slow response and employed clever diplomacy to present itself as a savior, not only in the Western Balkans but beyond.
At the seminar, he warned that we need to be extra careful and that we should not overlook the role of the United States and the European Union during both the COVID-19 pandemic and in all other situations.
„China is not using the COVID-19 crisis and launching infrastructure projects in the Western Balkans for the sake of the regional countries; it is doing that to enter Europe and to position itself within the European Union“, Kentera emphasized.
The President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro added that the Unites States and the European Union must develop prompt-reaction mechanisms. „If they were not present in the Western Balkans, no one will have a right to be angry when China, Russia or some third party take over this part of the Western Balkans“, Kentera highlighted.
When it comes to the future cooperation between Montenegro and China, Montenegro should go after things that are in its best interest, without jeopardizing its European path, the President of the Atlantic Council concluded.

The Western Balkans countries are striving to become a part of the West, to become a part of the Western civilization, and to become a part of Europe, said the President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro Savo Kentera.

On the other hand, Europe’s reaction is not adequate and as if the European Union felt tired of enlargement, he highlighted while appearing on the Klub A TV show on the A1 TV.

Kentera believes that the consequences of such an attitude of the European Union and the United States should be analyzed, and it should be understood that China and Russia would take over this region if the EU and the United States do not make some concrete moves regarding the Western Balkans.

However, the President of the Atlantic Council emphasized that a strategic course of Montenegro should not be and cannot be questioned.

“I still believe that there is a pro-Western majority in Montenegro and that if we look from the historical point of view, Montenegro has always been turned towards the West.

Commenting on the challenges and the missteps that happened in the security sector, Kentera believes that the security sector is ready to resist the challenges to the extent to which the institutions of the system are strong.

That means that the institutions of the system, particularly the security sector, should be managed by professionals who will perform their job in a way that is in the interest of the state, and not by individuals or political parties, he highlighted.

The President of the Atlantic Council particularly emphasized that the credibility of Montenegro among Western partners has not been gained overnight but that it has been built for years.

He also highlighted that in the previous period, Montenegro had very quality-based and constructive cooperation and that there was a relationship based on trust between Montenegro and its NATO partners. Likewise, Kentera believes that missteps in the security sector are perceived by NATO allies and wider Western circles as a short-term episode.

When it comes to Russian influence in Montenegro, Kentera said that Russia changed its modus operandi since it is using more sophisticated methods nowadays than in 2016 – it launches fake news and disinformation.

The goal is to destabilize the state, polarize society, cause a split, and present Montenegro, which is a NATO member state, as an unstable country where the conflicts can escalate anytime, Kentera thinks.

When it comes to China, he emphasizes that this country used the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic very well.

In a moment when the EU has not been coping so well and has not been able to help its member states or aspiring countries due to an excessive administration and bureaucracy, China used the situation to make an excellent PR, in order to change the perception that the citizens from the EU and the region have of that country, Kentera said.

The President of the Atlantic Council said that a trap that Montenegro got into, i.e. debt diplomacy, China used with other European countries.

Commenting on the Montenegro-Serbia relations, Kentera said that he saw Serbia as the key partner in the region, both to Montenegro and NATO. He thinks that Serbia will become a part of the West in the future and that everything that is occurring with Montenegro nowadays would be just one episode.

“Serbia is a too important factor in the Balkans to remain excluded”, concluded the President of the Atlantic Council.