Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović met with US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker at the Prespa Forum in Ohrid.
A senior State Department official expressed pleasure with the meeting with President Đukanović and confirmed that the new US administration also considers Montenegro an ally, close friend and partner. He emphasized that they are proud of how much has been done together and how far Montenegro has come.
“The importance of unity and togetherness was also confirmed at the recent NATO Summit,” Reeker reminded, “which shows that we are now closer and more ready for challenges”. He emphasized the US commitment to continue supporting integration and reforms on a very complicated European path, as it is very important that all Western Balkan countries be integrated and united in the EU as well as in NATO. “You have a very important role as head of state to remind your citizens and the rest of the world that Montenegro is an independent state with its own history, and you have a significant role to play in not let that be forgotten,” said Reeker.
President Đukanović thanked Reeker for the meeting and for the repeated clear messages of support and partnership with Montenegro. He acquainted Reeker with the current situation in Montenegro and the region since their last meeting at the Munich Security Conference, the change of government in the parliamentary elections, which, especially after a long continuity of one government, is an opportunity for new dynamics of democratic political development. This was confirmed through the recognition of the election results and the smooth transition of power, said the President, with the assessment that realized scope and results of the new majority can be seen now, as well as the impact of that policy on the future of Montenegro and the stability of the region, bearing in mind and broader context.
Welcoming the role of the State Department envoy in the Balkans, and joint action with the EU representative, he pointed to the need for stronger EU incentives and US presence in the region in order to further integrate, fully stabilize and combat third party influence, which is reflected in reviving retrograde ideas from the 1990s. In that context, he stressed that the encouraging decrees of the US president are being activated, which he understands as a concrete confirmation of the US return to the Western Balkan. He emphasized that he is absolutely sure that there is an identical view and reiterated his firm commitment to the defence of European and Euro-Atlantic values. For us, NATO membership and the path to the EU is the only right choice, which has no alternative, he said.
Reeker thanked the President for the attitudes he highly values, during the years of cooperation. He agreed with the assessment that the United States is following the EU’s policy towards the region, but also stressed the need to further encourage EU enlargement.
He was pleased with the President’s participation in the Prespa Forum, which is a significant opportunity for talks, and concluded that Washington is closely following Montenegro, and the dialogue will continue soon in Podgorica.