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.

After August 30 the foreign policy of Montenegro truly comes into question, said the President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro Savo Kentera at the international conference organized by the Foreign Policy Center with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Serbia.

Even though it seems that all the efforts have been taken so that the international community and partners would see that Montenegro stays strongly committed to the EU, NATO, and Western values, we have a completely different situation in practice, he added.

Kentera emphasized that the Montenegrin society today is divided more than ever and that the image of Montenegro as a divided and unstable society suits only Russia.

Last year, Russia used the situation and people in the field to implement one sophisticated operation successfully, which resulted not only in the government change but also in these divisions in Montenegrin society and also had as a result the institutions of the system being susceptible to the foreign influence from the inside.

He put a particular emphasis on the security sector of Montenegro, as a sector that was very compromised at one point.

Referring to all these events in Montenegro, Kentera highlighted that danger is not latent and added:  „The kid gloves are completely taken off, and here we are witnessing a very rough game, the game that has not been played this way before, accompanied by crossing the borders that used to be respected and which should be respected. “

The President of the Atlantic Council believes that the case of Montenegro should serve as a good case study that will explain a successful Russian hybrid war manifestation. Montenegro should serve as an example for other countries so such things do not occur tomorrow in North Macedonia, Croatia, or any other NATO member state, Kentera emphasized.

A key thing now, he considers, is how to overcome this situation and how to ensure that the institutions of the system function properly and that someday tomorrow Montenegro remains strongly committed to the Alliance’s interests and that its EU membership is not questioned.

Kentera congratulated Russians on the successfully won battle, but he said that they will not win the war. Montenegro remains a part of the West, Montenegro will completely fulfill its commitments as a member of the Alliance, and it will eagerly seek to become an EU member state, Kentera said.

The President of the Atlantic Council particularly emphasized the role of Serbia in the stability and security of the region. „Serbia is a state that is now far too important in the Western Balkans to be left outside of all these integration flows, and outside of the Alliance after all“, Kentera said.

„I truly believe that this is the best possible future, not only for Serbia but also for all other regional countries that are not part of the Alliance; and only then can we talk about the stability and security of the whole region“, Kentera concluded.

The Assembly of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro held on February 25, 2021, in Podgorica elected the new Governance Board composed of Milica Pejanović-Đurišić, John Allen, Sharyl Cross, and Amadeo Watkins.  The Board members are prominent figures with many years of political and expert experience both at home and in the international scene.

The former President of the Parliament of Montenegro Ranko Krivokapić was elected Vice President, while the current President Savo Kentera remains at the head of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro.

The Atlantic Council of Montenegro will continue to be the leading platform gathered around democratic and development principles of euroatlantism. Bearing in mind its commitment to regional and global peace, as well as good neighborly relations, the Assembly underlined the strategic importance of the North Atlantic Alliance for the stability in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic area, including the Western Balkan region. Considering this, the Atlantic Council will enhance its efforts to raise awareness through all possible dialogue forms and to fight propaganda against the Alliance, which has brought peace to the region and defense, security, and stability to Montenegro.

There is a tendency in the Western Balkans for flaws of its nascent democracies to allow room for autocracies reviving retrogressive ideas directly opposed to euroatlantism and once promoting the political platform of wars and conflicts in this region. Unfortunately, these conditions have again brought to the surface the stigma of the Western Balkans as soft underbelly of Europe and euroatlantism, where situations and relations aimed at destabilizing and dismantling the unity of both NATO and the EU occur.

Considering this, as well as the fact that there has been a change in the course of security challenges, which prompts a stronger focus of the Alliance on the political dimension, the Atlantic Council will intensify its participation in global consultations on further adjusting and defining of the new NATO2030 strategy. Therefore, it will take part in seeking a global response to attempts of undermining of the member states’ political institutions, and in tackling radicalization and all forms of extremism, discrimination, and intolerance.

Technological development and digital transformation have fundamentally reshaped the global geopolitical landscape by changing governance structures, posing professional challenges, and requiring innovative political responses. In this context, the Assembly concluded that the Atlantic Council of Montenegro has potential to continue, in cooperation with its partners, developing towards carrying out of comprehensive analyses of political, socio-economic, environmental, and security implications of new technologies, by mapping possibilities for the development of innovation ecosystems and by recruiting young talents from Montenegro, the region and beyond.

Whoever thinks that Russian influence has weakened when Montenegro or Northern Macedonia accessed NATO, definitely does not know much about Russia or its functioning. Russian influence has just strengthened here during the last two years, assessed Savo Kenetera, the President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro.

In an interview for Oslobođenje, Kentera stated that Russia had a very well-conceived strategy and a very good game that they play wisely, using disinformation.

Last year before the election, we identified right here in Montenegro the best example of probably one of the biggest disinformation campaigns and hybrid war coming from Russia, which produced very good results. What happened to us, tomorrow may happen to any NATO member state and that is why everyone should learn from our mistakes, said Kentera.

President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro reflected on the benefits of Montenegrin NATO membership, repeating that the first results of the membership will be visible after five years.

However, Kentera says that some of the results occurred and were visible long before those five years. Above all, they reflected in a democratic government change. It’s something that no one in Montenegro could have imagined, Kentera added.

While commenting on the situation in the region, Kentera said that it is only when Bosnia and Herzegovina become a NATO member state as well as Serbia, i.e. when this story complete, that we can talk about the true stability of the whole region. Here, everything is very interlaced, just like in the case of communicating vessels. Therefore, it is important in that context that Bosnia and Herzegovina finally put an end to this issue. Until then, everything will be fragile. Kentera thinks that all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be obliged, sooner or later, to consider what is the national interest and not just their personal one.

When it comes to Serbia, he said that this country had already realized that it could not play on two fronts, or in their case, on three. It is in the best interest of the Serbian citizens, and also of the whole region, that Serbia, as perhaps the most prominent factor in the Western Balkans in terms of stability and everything else, decides to build its future towards West, the ACM President thinks.

Kentera expressed his pleasure that the Balkans will be one of the new US administration’s priorities, since it has not been the case so far. That is why I expect from new administration, together with the EU, not to be passive but much more active, he concluded.

Click here to take a look at the 2BS Forum 2020 Summary which offers an overview of the keynote speeches and panels, but also the messages and conclusions from the Forum, held on December 11, 2020. in Podgorica.

In the last documentary of the set Journey to Safety, our interlocutors shared their personal experiences and reasons for departing to battlefields. The documentary brings a first-person story and firsthand experiences. We also talked with Dragan Pejovic, the National Coordinator for prevention and suppression of radicalization and extreme violence (2018-2020), and Hafiz Sulejmani Bugari from the Islamic Community of Montenegro, who explained the phenomenon of departing to battlefields, the approach to solving the issue of reintegration of returnees into Montenegrin society, mechanisms and methods of prevention of radicalization, as well as the importance and the role of dialogue.

The project has been supported by the Embassy of Canada.

The topic of the second documentary within the project Journey to Safety is migrants who have sought international protection in our country.

Watch emotional testimonies of people who have found their safety in Montenegro.

The project has been supported by the Embassy of Canada.

Watch the first out of three short documentaries within the project Journey to Safety. In this documentary we are talking with the women working in the security sector, whose everyday’s work contributes to the building of peace and stability in Montenegro.

The project has been supported by the Embassy of Canada.

The Atlantic Council of Montenegro is proud to announce the featuring of the project JOURNEY TO SAFETY.  Journey to Safety represents a series of three short documentaries whose goal is to create a more inclusive, tolerant, secure and prosperous democratic society in Montenegro. The topics of the documentaries are: Women in the Security Sector, Migrants and Returnees from the Battlefields.

The first documentary film will be premiered on January 18, 2021 on the television Vijesti at 4:55 pm. The other documentaries are planned to be featured on January 21 and 25, 2021 at 4:55 pm as well. The films are also available on the official YouTube channel of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro and our social media websites.

With this project, the Atlantic Council of Montenegro wants to contribute to peace and safety in Montenegro.

The project has been supported by the Embassy of Canada.