Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

Brussels, 15 July 2022

Check against delivery!

Thank you, Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, Ranko Krivokapić].

I am very happy to be here in Montenegro, in this beautiful country. It is my first official visit and we had very good discussions this morning with the Foreign Minister about our common future and how Montenegro can continue being [at] the forefront of the enlargement.

We also discussed about the unprecedented geopolitical context, the unprecedented geopolitical crisis.

Montenegro is one of our most trusted partners and deserves strong appreciation from the European Union.

For the last 10 years, you have been consistently, 100% aligned with our positions and decisions in our foreign and security policy. This includes your concrete commitment on the restrictive measures that we introduced following Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine.

And this is a very good, strong signal of Montenegro’s commitment to its European Union future. You stand with us in defending international law and the rules-based international order. We know that it comes with a cost. It comes with a cost and a price. And we stand with you, we stand with Montenegro in countering this together.

That is why, Minister, we are mobilising €5 millions of urgent support to the Western Balkans partners to strengthen their resilience in dealing with those that try to manipulate information and standing in front of those who try to weaken our sanctions and to blame us for being the cause of the food and oil worldwide crisis.

We will also continue to support Montenegro in facing the consequences of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. We will work to strengthen your military and defence capacities, not least by supporting the Balkan Medical Task Force, and more military and defence support is in the pipeline.

Furthermore, we are launching in Brussels the European Diplomatic Academy. Something new that will be the cradle of the new diplomatic forces at the European level. And I am very happy to say that young diplomats from the Western Balkans, and in particular from Montenegro, will be invited to participate in this pilot project for this European Diplomatic Academy where we will be forming the men and women that in the future will be representing the European Union in the world. Not coming from each Member State but being put together to have the same basis in order to do the same work.

This academy will bring together Junior Diplomats from our Member States. We will be putting together officials from the European Union’s institutions and young diplomats from the Western Balkans, and also from Ukraine. They will, over a period of 9 months, be equipped with the knowledge needed and skills necessary to shape our common policies, to implement our common decisions, to use all of our institutions to defend a Stronger Europe in the World.

I am very pleased to announce it here today in Podgorica. I believe it will be a real opportunity for the young diplomats of the European States to join the future work of a joint network of European diplomats.

And I think we have to push for this kind of decisions and to build this kind of institutions. Remember Jean Monnet said: “men and women are important, but they pass by. The institutions remain”. Nothing can be done without the institutions, so we need to build institutions that will shape our future because our future is a historical cross-roads. And Montenegro has the choice of which road to take.

When you are at a cross-roads, it is a choice and there is a question mark: “Which is the best one?” The best is not always the easy [one]. And that is a dilemma for people, for societies.

When you face the history and the history shows to you two or three possibilities and you have to choose, you have to think of – not tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow – but of the long-term future.

Montenegro could show the way forward in the Western Balkans. Montenegro, by doing the work and staying on a clear strategic course, [it] takes you towards your goal of joining the European Union.

You are, Montenegro is, the most advanced candidate country, the forefront country on the [EU] accession path. But for this story to become a real success story, there is still a number of requirements, in particular related to reforms in the rule of law area.

And for that, a lot of time has passed without advancing a lot. That is why the country needs today a strong political commitment, a genuine engagement and consensus-building, concentrating all your political efforts and will, concentrating all relevant institutions and actors on the purpose of fulfilling the requirements to join the European Union.

I think that the political leaders here in Montenegro should make the strategic priority for the country to accelerate European Union accession negotiations, and not let other events divert them from this important – if I can say, the most important – endeavour.

Thank you for the extraordinary welcome that I got here in Montenegro, in Podgorica. Thank you, everybody, for the very important talks that we have had. After these discussions, I am confident that this will happen.

Thank you.

Link to the video:https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-228359

Source – EEAS