President Borut Pahor met his Montenegrin counterpart Milo Đukanović on Thursday as part of his official visit to the country. They talked about the situation in the Western Balkans and exchanged views on the progress of Montenegro’s talks to join the European Union, the president’s office said in a press release.
Pahor said at a joint press conference after the meeting that Montenegro was an important factor of stability in the region, that led constructive and friendly policy toward all its neighbors.
The Slovenian president noted that the leaders of the countries of the Brdo-Brijuni process had stressed at the recent summit in Tirana that enlargement of the EU was a geo-political and not a technical question.
This means that the leaders have assessed that the political will for enlargement will probably be weaker in the future, and it is thus “our duty to have a more visionary approach to enlargement to make Europe see the Western Balkans as an opportunity”.
Pahor also expressed the hope that the new European Commission will be constituted as soon as possible, while noting that the process would be harder than ever. In the meantime, an attractive plan should be made to help the European Commission keep enlargement on the agenda, he added.
Pahor and Đukanović also focused on the progress of Montenegro’s talks to join the EU, with Pahor confirming that Slovenia supported Montenegro in the process, including with expert assistance in the closing of negotiating chapters.
It is key that Montenegro stays clearly committed to the negotiations and implements concrete reforms, he said, adding that the country’s NATO membership had boosted its reputation, also from the aspect of foreign investments.
The Slovenian president stressed that the relations between the countries were excellent and without open issues. The countries conduct a regular dialogue at the political and expert level and mutual trust has been established, added Đukanović.
Pahor noted that Slovenia was the first country to open a diplomatic office in Montenegro in 2006, while Slovenian companies were among the first to invest in the country.
The country’s economic cooperation has been on the rise, with the amount of bilateral trade increasing by 6.5% last year to EUR 114.7 million. Pahor and Đukanović expressed the interest for further boosting of cooperation, in particular in energy, renewables, infrastructure projects, tourism, agriculture, information technology, and digitalisation.
Montenegro has also been a priority country for Slovenia’s development aid, receiving EUR 1.24 million of such aid in 2017.
The first official visit by the Slovenian president to Montenegro after the country joined NATO in June 2017 is also a symbolic confirmation of Slovenia’s support for Montenegro in its Euro-Atlantic integration, the president’s office said.
Pahor also held talks with Montenegrin Speaker Ivan Brajović about the Parliament’s role in Montenegro’s accession to the EU and the country’s progress in membership negotiations.
The meeting with Prime Minister Duško Marković focused on the situation in Western Balkans. On Friday, the Slovenian president attended the 9th To Be Secure (2BS) conference in Budva, discussing regional and global security challenges.
Foto: STA/total-slovenia-news, twitter.com/BorutPahor