It is my pleasure, and a very warm welcome to President [of Montenegro, Jakov] Milatović here in Brussels.
This is our first meeting since you took up office, Mr President, and we appreciate that your first official visit abroad brings you to the capital of the European Union.
The fact that you choose Brussels is a clear demonstration of your strong commitment to the European integration of Montenegro.
In fact, Montenegro is the most advanced accession candidate, an important ally, and a future Member of the European Union. For that, I want to stress that you are the first on the line, the most advanced accession candidate. And it is taking a long time – I know.
For the last decade, Montenegro has been consistently aligned with our positions and decisions in our foreign and security policy – 100% alignment. This, Mr President, deserves our strong appreciation.
Of course, there are actors who do not like this principled position and try to undermine Montenegro’s stability, security, and its way to Europe.
Therefore, from us, our answer has to be to strengthen our support, especially in the area of fending off foreign interference and cyber threats.
We will continue providing assistance to increase cybersecurity and to build cyber-resilience through our Euro Rapid Response Programme.
We are facing this situation created by the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and in this situation, maintaining Montenegro’s strategic orientation will be more important than ever.
As I said, on the accession side, Montenegro continues to be the frontrunner, and to maintain this leading position and to move forward, the country needs to continue advancing on important reforms, especially in the area of the rule of law.
It is not to please Brussels. It is not to please the Member States – the 27 capitals. It is about ensuring that the citizens of Montenegro begin to feel the benefits of the European Union membership as soon as possible.
And you know, Mr President, that you can count on the European Union’s support to move your country forward [on] this European Union path. That is what we are going to discuss today.
I am looking forward to our discussions and our cooperation in the coming years.
- Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-241861