January 18, 2013

President of the Republic of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić on Official Visit to Montenegro
The President of Montenegro Filip Vujanović welcomed today in Podgorica, with the highest state and military honors, the President of the Republic of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić, who is on an official visit to Montenegro.

The President of Montenegro and the President of the Republic of Serbia held a press conference, following the bilateral meeting which was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European integration, Igor Lukšić PhD, and Ambassadors of Montenegro and Serbia, Igor Jovović and Zoran Lutovac.

President of Montenegro, Mr. Filip Vujanović:

Esteemed President of Serbia, Mr. Nikolić, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today Montenegro has a pleasure to have the President of Serbia, Mr. Tomislav Nikolić, on an official visit and to confirm what our joint ambition is - that the relations of the two close and friendly countries, two close friendly peoples, serve as a basis for our outmost, comprehensive and intensive relations. We talked as we did on all earlier occasions, openly and constructively, above all friendly, about the joint ambition to use all resources in order to improve our relations. The relations are at a high level, but there is always room for their improvement. We talked about the integration process, because we are together on the path of the European integration. We made some steps forward here, with an ambition to win experiences and to help the acceleration of the European integration of Serbia as well, whose dynamics of integration is not only an interest of Serbia but of a region as a whole. Therefore, we are very interested for Serbia to start its negotiations as soon as possible. We think that it is in the interest of Serbia, in the interest of the region, in the interest of the EU too, and in that sense, we are ready to use all of what are our already acquired experiences for the purpose of winning these experiences so that the integration path of Serbia towards the EU would be accelerated. We explained that, the President of course from our earlier contacts has all of these details and information regarding Euro-Atlantic integration, and I have to say with pleasure that the President of Serbia, as on earlier occasions, expressed his understanding for our NATO integration, although, as you know, our stances towards the Euro-Atlantic integration are, naturally, different. We have talked on this occasion, most intensively about bilateral relations and we found room for their improvement, first of all, in economic terms, because our joint resources of cooperation are very abundant, and we are obliged to foster them. We have talked also about quite specific relations and projects, from those in infrastructure, railway, transport, Port, to those projects which are in purpose of the joint appearance in the third markets, where we could achieve what is the joint interest of the two economies. We have talked about the positions of the both Diasporas. We, in Montenegro, are ready to do everything so that the Serbian national community achieve the fullness in its representation and all of these values relating to its national identity, and we heard the willingness of the President of Serbia to accelerate normative and factual activities for the national community of Montenegrins in Serbia, in order to be recognized and to act stronger. We have, of course, talked about the regional circumstances, we shared opinions that our public knows. On this occasion also, as on all others before, we have had above all friendly and cordial relation which is in purpose of promotion of the relations of the two countries that will serve as an example not only in the region but beyond. Therefore, on this occasion too, and in this public statement I express my thanks for the visit which made a strong contribution to our cooperation, and I am convinced that, as the President of Serbia has demonstrated it so far, this kind of relation will be encouraged in further activities as well.
Thank you.

President of the Republic of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić

Dear Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Journalists,
Serbia has an interest to achieve in the Balkans, particularly in the Balkans, an excellent cooperation with all the countries and a special interest to have the best relations with Montenegro. With the country, whose territorial integrity, wholeness, sovereignty are acknowledged by membership in the UN, with which there was unnecessary, by nothing justified, stagnation in the relations for which Mr. President and I, would like to be immediately broken, and to put the problems on the table if there are any, unsolved issues if there are any, because nothing is unsolvable for us anymore, and not to leave it to others. Serbia and Montenegro are absolutely connected, they have many common interests. Serbia and Montenegro could appear together in many spheres, in many markets, in many political markets. Serbia and Montenegro will set their own legislation and acting in internal affairs so that Serbs and Montenegrins in both countries feel like citizens of their own country, the citizens of the first or normal or the only order that exists. When I was in opposition I resented because Serbia did not have good relations with Montenegro, it is my duty today to boost these relations to the highest possible level. I personally think that it is not good that Serbian people is in opposition in Montenegro and I will talk about it with the people who are elected by Serbian people to represent them politically, and I think that those who lead Montenegro are absolutely ready to talk, with much attention, with much consideration, in a completely different way with the Serbian national community which will also address them completely differently. We share the same values, we have the common goals. Serbia proclaimed military neutrality, but it didn’t hold it against Montenegro for it wishes to be in the composition of NATO or NATO pact as people would say. It does not endanger us. And we do not meddle in anything that does not endanger us. If Montenegro knows the way by which to get easier to the better life for its citizens, then, may it go that way. We do not wish, neither we can influence that. There is a great job ahead of us, to understand - all of us from the former Yugoslavia - that our interest is that our citizens live better and our interest is to cooperate, and not to search in the past, in closer or further, the reasons why we would not cooperate. Our own children expect from us to provide conditions for them to grow up and to develop, and not to teach them right away what should separate us. I wish a lot of success to Montenegro in difficult times that it is living in and that is ahead of it, in times in which Serbia is. We launched many, many initiatives to help our people, we are seeking friends all over the world. We can gladly go this way together and we can, together with representatives from Montenegro, agree on investments and joint businesses and export to the third market. Serbia has a lot of favorable agreements with many countries in the world, especially with the Russian Federation. I call on Montenegro to take advantage of our agreement. Therefore, we agreed on these visits, at this or lower level, to be regular from now on. Not to convince you that we wish better relations, but to create much better relations. Because, it is unnatural for Serbia and Montenegro not to have the best possible relations. When we in Serbia, we Serbs, say that we like very much some people, we search for similarities with that people so we say, here is the similar past, similar religion, similar language. And when we talk about Montenegro and people living in Montenegro we are looking for what is it that is not same for us. But how, with the people with whom we are almost the same, how not to cooperate with them and not to live nicely and comfortably and as is proper? Therefore, I assure the President of Montenegro that Serbia is absolutely on a way to cooperate with Montenegro, without prejudice to what Montenegro represents for us today, the UN member, its own state in its own territory, and I’m not arrogating when I say that I would like to develop together and to grow together, side by side, closer than many others, and who unfortunately cooperate better than we do today. I wish a lot of luck to Montenegro. Hard years are ahead of you. We will slowly follow you down the European path, and I hope we will not encounter obstacles other than ones we can overcome, and we are prepared to overcome many obstacles in order for Serbia to become the EU member state. Then we will probably totally open all borders that exist between us, or remove them completely, and in that way convince the people that it makes no difference whether they live in Serbia or in Montenegro.
Thank you very much.

Journalist’s question: TANJUG

You are saying also now that the relations between Serbia and Montenegro until the election of the President Nikolić as the head of the state were worse, namely, that this is an occasion to be better. On what do you base this optimism that the relations will be better, or, in other words, why they were worse, colder, or whatever before the election of Nikolić?

President Vujanović:

We have always thought and we think that these relations of the two states, two peoples, with their closeness, historical, present and future should develop the best relations which will serve as an example not only in the Balkans and South-Eastern Europe, but at global level. Therefore, if we have to be as close to that extent as the history dictates to us, then our relations should be close in present and future as the interests dictate to us, and also the future as the joint projections of those needs and achievements for better quality of life oblige us. We had remarks on what was misunderstanding of something that was the need of the specific conduct of the Montenegrin policy from the aspect of our integrations and we thought that some specific matters should be treated more carefully in order to recognize that interest of Montenegro in terms of that carefulness. Therefore, we know how hard was for Serbia the issue of Kosovo’s recognition from Montenegro, but we thought that it would be understood in a way that will dynamically mean that such experience of Montenegro will be accepted in Serbia in terms of reality, and not to remove our Ambassador from Serbia, not to allow to this person, for whom we were interested in, to return back. We also thought that the Office, I talked about it with former President of Serbia, acted in the way that was not appropriate to our relations and personal relations that I had with former President of Serbia. We thought that such behavior was not in purpose of friendship and, in Montenegro, it was experienced without real basis as something that was not appropriate to the brotherly relations of the two peoples. Therefore, we had the remark that our relations were burdened and I am very glad because of what President Nikolić stated, and what I know from the very beginning. Finally, in the mere inauguration of President Nikolić in which I was, we talked even then, and also later that we will build relations that will be without these burdens and they are already like that. I think that we take a solid upturn which is finally pursuance of the obligation of friendship, I would say, above all the history which obliges us to a relation that really has to be a relation of the two peoples, but two brotherly peoples, two states that will of course, forever be partners as two independent sovereigns, but particularly close with common interests.

President Nikolić:

Since I represent Serbia, let me somewhat justify those who represented Serbia before me. It was a hard period. Two events, referendum, independence of Montenegro and then the recognition of Kosovo from Montenegro, had probably influence the behavior of the leadership of Serbia, because, unlike me, the previous leadership tried to do what the polls said the people wanted. But I want to lead Serbia, without minding what somebody might think of me, that day, in that moment. I believe it is in the interest of Serbia to have good relations with Montenegro, and I will lead it in that way. And if one thinks that it is not good, they can always organize, there is a constitutional option to organize my dismissal. But, I do not believe that there is a normal and reasonable person in Serbia, who would say that Serbia and Montenegro should not live just as Mr. Vujanović presented.

Thank you very much.

Journalist’s question: RADIO-TELEVISION OF SERBIA

Even today, alike many years ago, we hear about, so to say, a list of nice wishes concerning the reconstruction of the railway line Serbia – Montenegro and Port of Bar through which goods would be exported from Serbia etc. It seems to me that the nice wishes have been far ahead of deeds, all these years. I will ask this time something I ask the doctor every time, both here and in Belgrade, and that is the issue of church and I know you will tell me that church is separate from the state, but I am afraid that the problem concerned has been smoldering for way too long and that the state would have to intervene eventually. I would like to hear the answer of the President of Serbia as to whether he has a proposal for his counterpart in relation to that problem.

President Vujanović

I shall answer to this question also. As regards my answer that have foreseen, I shall say that church is separate from the state and that the state does not interfere with the church affairs, that the church has understood it and that they have clearly understood the message of non-interference into state affairs. We expect that within these relations, it will be taken care of the stability of Montenegro, not anyhow jeopardizing its stability which is the fundamental value of Montenegro and which should not be affected by the church. My answer is well known to our and to the Serbian public – adherence to the Constitution i.e. appreciation for and exercising of the constitutional provisions.

President Nikolić

First of all, Serbia will initiate reconstruction of the railway line Belgrade – Bar for which purposes it provided for a loan from the Russian Federation. Serbia will, and that will be the topic of our negotiations in Azerbaijan, initiate construction of a highway towards Montenegro and Serbia is actively thinking about the Port of Bar which serves to transport goods to Serbia or further, through Serbia, and in case that Montenegro decides to change ownership over the Port of Bar, I think that there would be companies, individuals or funds interested in participating in a tender. As for the churches, the Serbian Orthodox Church has a problem with the Macedonian Orthodox Church and Montenegrin Orthodox Church. Relations in Macedonia affect the relations between the states and I have been trying, and I believe I will be successful in solving the situation in the best possible manner. So that it would no longer pose a problem between the two states. In Montenegro, that is not a problem regarding the relations between Montenegro and Serbia. That is why it is still the field in which the churches should act. In case security would be jeopardized or relations would be jeopardized, if we would start giving each other evil eyes, then I would certainly interfere and look for a solution that would not allow for disruption of relations between Serbia and Montenegro. For the time being, owing to the conduct of the leadership of Montenegro, that is not a problem in the relations between Serbia and Montenegro.

Journalist’s question: SRNA

Data of the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro reflect that the economic relations between Montenegro and Serbia are at the best level in the region. What will you specifically do, in political terms, to achieve such a good flow of goods, people and capital existing between Montenegro and Serbia, what have you specifically done at the political level to achieve that level of quality?

President Nikolić

Well, we have done something today – we made the citizens of Serbia and Montenegro and businessmen of Serbia and Montenegro see that there is no difference between Serbia and Montenegro, there is no envy, there are no harsh words, no bad initiatives; this could additionally spur the economic cooperation, and would convince the citizens that our relations are sincere. If you believe me when I, who am no longer a politician but the President, say that our relations are friendly and that I will be making efforts so that our relations remain friendly forever, then it is the duty of each and every of us to convey that to the people. Hence, Serbia and Montenegro are led by people who are friends and who wish that such friendship exists between the citizens of Serbia and Montenegro.

President Vujanović

Allow me to join the statement of President Nikolić. I think that the problem regarding the infrastructure is the problem of finances only. Hence, what we need are the actions for construction of highway, reconstruction of railway, for joint projects which are a realistic opportunity for cooperation of the two countries. We are sincerely committed towards stimulating all of this. The President spoke about the plans for the Bar-Belgrade highway, which is a long-term project, but we all want to jointly make investments. We talked about the activities taken in Serbia as regards reconstruction of the Bar-Belgrade railway line, which is a high priority, since it is easier to provide for finances from the railway reconstruction funds. You also spoke in concrete terms about the railway and its needs and even more active communication will be established after this meeting between the two railway infrastructure companies. We also talked about the other specific projects which are an opportunity for cooperation and I think that President Nikolić sends a message: if we cooperate at the political level, that means that at the economic level, you are fully committed to strengthening the cooperation.

Journalist’s question: BETA AGENCY

You come into a visit to Montenegro on the day when the presidential elections are called in Montenegro. At the same time, you state that Serbs in Montenegro should not be opposition. This is perceived by a part of the public as your direct support to the ruling party’s candidate at the forthcoming presidential elections.

President Nikolić

I hear from you that the elections have been called. When have they been called?

Journalist: An hour ago.

President Nikolić

The visit has been agreed upon earlier. I did not know that the elections would be called, until I heard it from you. I did not come for the campaigning purposes, nor will I come again until the elections are over, you will certainly not see me in Montenegro by then. Hence, this is up to Montenegro. This is up to all the citizens of Montenegro – who will run as a candidate and whom they will elect. I was not referring to the presidential elections when I spoke about the Serbs who live in Montenegro. I referred to the municipal communities, through local governance to the republic authorities – that such a numerous, large national community has to be represented in the power. And they will elect their candidates on their own, the candidates who will run for the position of the President. I really do not want to interfere and today’s day was not intended for something like that. and if that has been the plan in Montenegro, then they…I did not take part in it.

Journalist’s question:

Mr. Nikolić, I would just like to clarify this question. You have said that you consider that Serbs in Montenegro should not be opposition, but to be a part of the ruling structure. Will you talk today to the representatives of the political parties who represent Serbs in Montenegro? However, as far as we know, the opposition parties do not think very highly of the current ruling structure, they consider it to be mafia-related or whatever; will you advise them to enter the ruling structure regardless of who holds the power and is not that interference into the internal affairs of Montenegro?

President Nikolić

There, I have been making efforts ever since I entered into politics, and even more so since I became the President, to make sure that representatives of all the national minorities in Serbia be in the Government of Serbia. To cooperate in all the local governances, as a part of those who have assumed the responsibility to provide a better living for people. In that respect, I address Serbs in Montenegro so as to be able to establish communication with them, and I cannot talk to the Bosniaks in Montenegro and to the Albanians since I do not communicate with them and they do not expect my help in any way in the sense of achieving some of their ambitions. I speak from that position only with those political representatives behind whom stand the Serbian people in Montenegro. While I was in the opposition, voices were heard that Serbia has the mafia-related Government, and the party I was heading could do nothing in fight against crime until it entered the ruling structure. You can keep on wailing for a hundred years on someone’s criminal activity, but you cannot fulfill your ambition until you have established who is engaged in crime. Hence, those who believe that mobsters rule Montenegro, should enter the ruling structures, take over the function and speak seriously in the public on the data collected, from that position. By the way, I knew how many mobsters there were in Serbia, but I could not indict anyone until I appointed Aleksandar Vučić into the position from which he could ascertain that, nor could I decide on what was going to happen in Serbia. Hence, from that point of view, it is good that you have reminded me that in the fight against crime in Montenegro, political representatives of Serbia should be in the ruling structure.

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