03 January 2019 - Minister of Foreign Affairs, Srđan Darmanović, says in the interview for CdM portal that Montenegro and China have great relations, but also points out that our state’s path is clear – EU membership and it has no alternative. Tensions between Podgorica and Moscow eased. He says that Montenegro is definitely the best EU candidate and announces opening the last chapter and as well as closing several already opened chapters.
CdM: Can China have an impact on the European path of Montenegro?
Darmanović: Opinion about what China wants is different across the world. There’s an opinion that China’s interests are related to business primarily, and that they resolve their issues thanks to their economic success. Another idea is that there cannot be economic impact without political intentions and ambitions. And a variant of this attitude is that China wants to divide the EU with its economic approach. On the other hand, the fact is that China has excellent cooperation with the EU and thinks that Europe is their most important foreign-policy partner. For now, we can’t tell that China disagrees with the EU policy.
However, an anecdote would probably best answer the question what China wants. During the administration of President Richard Nixon, at the beginning of the 1970s, there was opening towards the USA and China. One of the main people for holding talks was the State Secretary at the time, Henry Kissinger. And during some informal chats with the Chinese PM of the time, Zhou Enlai, Kissinger asked him: “What do you think about the French Revolution?” Enlai replied: “It’s still very early to have an opinion about that.” Therefore, we’ll probably see in the future what is that China wants. Our cooperation is, first end foremost, of economic nature. China has never intervened in our internal policy. It acknowledges our EU path. Just like it was the case with NATO. We are developing our relations with China but not at the expense of our primary national objective – European integration.
CdM: This year is an election year in the EU. Can that slow the integration process down?
Darmanović: The main question is what the outcome of these elections will be. There are those who think that the populist right parties will make a spectacular success and that they will challenge almost all aspects of traditional European policy. I’m not sure it’s going to be that way. I can imagine the success of right populist parties in the sense of the increasing number of their seats in the European Parliament. I think that traditional parties will be able to form coalition Government, that is, a commission based on the principles of moderate European values and that this Government will present the continuation of the policy conducted so far. That’s why I believe that during the Romanian presidency, we will open the last chapter and we are ready to close five or six chapters. I expect this trend of Montenegro being the leader of the EU agenda to continue.
CdM: How ready is Montenegro for the EU membership today?
Darmanović: Montenegro is without any doubt the readiest of all WB countries. But we still need to work more in many areas. Key areas are the rule of law and additional improvement of the judicial system. Also, there will be challenges in other areas as well. We opened Chapter 27, which is very important for us, essentially and symbolically. Essentially, because of environmental protection of one of the most important issues in every state. And, symbolically, it’s crucial because Montenegro is an ecological state.
CdM: What are relations between Montenegro and Russia like?
Darmanović: Bilateral relations are certainly calmer than they used to be. The overall situation is normal. President Vladimir Putin was among the first ones to congratulate us on presidential elections. Russia is still revising foreign policy, in which they want to make an impact on the change of powers in the world order, and they have spread their activities in several world regions. The policy of the so called hybrid warfare is still in force, and we are aware of that. However, Russia has accepted the fact that Montenegro is NATO member now. Official Moscow is in good relations with many NATO members, so I don’t see why couldn’t be the same with us. We have never wanted to have conflicts with anybody; we defend our right to be where we want to be.
CdM: What do you think about relations with Germany after Angela Merkel withdrew?
Darmanović: Angela Merkel is one of the greatest statesmen after World War II. When such a political colossus withdraws from the political scene, it must be felt. There’s always a question if the successor will be just as good. However, Germany is one of the most successful post-war democracies in Europe. Great democratic leaders managed Germany before Merkel, and I believe the same will be after Merkel. As far as we are concerned, we still count on German support in our EU journey. Relations between our states are great.
CdM: What are the key benefits of the NATO membership? Did it protect us from the recent turbulence?
Darmanović: NATO membership is the most important achievement after regaining independence. For the first time we became the state of the Western world. Apart of well known safety benefits, economic benefits are very important too. Investments in Montenegro increased, number of tourists broke all records… Their perception is that they come to a safe state.
Source: Cafe del Montenegro