|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic
Joint Press Availability
Washington, D.C., November 4, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome Montenegrin President Djukanovic, one of the leaders in Yugoslavia's struggle for democratic change.
Yesterday, I met with Yugoslav democratic leaders from Serbia and pledged American support for their efforts. Today, President Djukanovic and I have discussed his work to advance democratization and economic reforms in Montenegro and Yugoslavia as a whole.
President Djukanovic's government was democratically elected. His proposals for reform enjoy popular support and the United States wanted to help him succeed. To that end, we have committed $55 million in support for Montenegro this fiscal year. We have exempted Montenegrin enterprises from the sanctions Serbia faces and we are looking at other ways to help. We are working with Congress to insure that, although we don't yet have a budget for next year, our support will continue.
The United States supports a democratic Montenegro within a democratic and reformed Yugoslavia, and President Djukanovic assured me that this, too, is his objective. We discussed the results of my meeting yesterday with other leaders of the Yugoslav opposition, and President Djukanovic expressed his support for their call for early, free and fair elections as well as the other steps I announced yesterday.
The United States is firmly committed to building peace, democracy and prosperity throughout Southeast Europe. We are providing extensive resources to this effort through our assistance programs and our contributions to NATO peacekeeping in Kosovo and Bosnia.
As we have repeatedly emphasized over the past year, we have an important interest in the security of the region, including that of Montenegro. President Djukanovic briefed me today on his efforts to insulate Montenegro economically from Milosevic's disastrous policies by legalizing the use of foreign currency. We understand the desire of all Yugoslavs in Serbia and Montenegro for monetary stability and full participation in the global economy.
The United States will be providing technical assistance to Montenegro, consulting with our European allies and partners on how best to work with President Djukanovic in promoting economic development. By providing political and material support for Montenegro, exempting Montenegro from sanctions and promoting its participation in the global economy, we are demonstrating the welcome that awaits the rest of Yugoslavia when democracy takes hold in Serbia, as I believe it will.
Again, it's my pleasure to have President Djukanovic here, and I turn the floor over to him.
PRESIDENT DJUKANOVIC: Ladies and gentlemen, it was a great pleasure that I have accepted invitation of Secretary of State Mrs. Albright and to visit Washington and have a whole series of very interesting discussions.
I wish to inform you that today I have already had talks at the Pentagon with the Secretary of Defense, Mr. Cohen; then with Senate Majority Leader, Mr. Trent Lott; that then I had at the State Department talks with Ambassador Holbrooke and Ambassador Dobbins; and, finally, I concluded these talks at the State Department with talks with the Secretary of State, Mrs. Albright.
And in the continuation of my visit, I will be having talks with the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Summers, with the Chief Administrator of the USAID, and with a large number of representatives of Congress and Senate. I omitted to mention a meeting with Adviser for National Security, Mr. Sandy Berger. I apologize.
The discussion with Secretary of State Mrs. Albright has been very useful and very fruitful. We have given particular attention to the realization of the project of economic and democratic reforms in Montenegro and the implementation of the project of the democratization of Yugoslavia.
With regard to the first topic, I have informed Mrs. Albright of the firm result of the government of Montenegro to proceed with intensive and transparent economic and democratic reform. With regard to the first topic, I have informed Secretary of State of the measures that the Montenegrin Government has taken in monetary sphere and through which it has tried to protect the economic interest of Montenegrin economy and Montenegrin citizens. I have informed Secretary of State that we have been compelled to take this move because we needed to protect the living standards of our population and to enable further implementation and proceeding of our economic reforms.
I have also informed Secretary of State that this is not a prelude to secession by Montenegro, but an attempt to relieve the pressures on the Montenegrin Government coming from the economic and living standards considerations so that these issues of the status of Montenegro can be put off and the atmosphere and the pressures to bring up the status of Montenegro could be taken up in a more relaxed atmosphere at a later time.
I wish to say that we in the government of Montenegro are aware that this is not a sufficient move in terms of reform, but that this is just a prerequisite which can give an impetus to further work on a comprehensive reform effort.
The second part of the discussion was dedicated to the issues of the democratization of Serbia. I have informed the Secretary of State of my support to the arrangements which were agreed yesterday in a discussion with the representatives of the opposition, and these are things that have already been made public to the US and general international public.
Montenegro supports strongly the democratization of Serbia, believing that thereby it is creating preconditions for its democratization and organization and stability of the region we live in.
Finally, I wish to repeat Montenegro does not have an alternative path. Montenegro's path is the path of economic and democratic reforms and of integration into European and trans-Atlantic structures; and this is a path that we offer to Serbia too, and on this path we expect assistance from the international community. But no matter what the choice of Serbia is and no matter what the decision of the international community is, I wish to assure you that Montenegro will certainly continue along this path.
Thank you very much for your attention.
QUESTION: Mr. President, there's a report that your premier met – your Prime Minister met with a Serb general who's been indicted on war crimes charges. I wonder if you could tell us if that's true and put it in some context. Is there some reason for being that close to a war criminal?
PRESIDENT DJUKANOVIC: I wish first to state our firm commitment to ensuring full cooperation with the International Tribunal in The Hague. We regard this as an international obligation that Mr. Milosevic has assumed at Dayton. And more than that formal consideration, we sincerely believe that people who are indicted and suspected of having committed war crimes must be held accountable for this.
Still, I think that you will agree that Montenegro is not the most responsible and it is not that player which should bring to the court, to the tribunal in The Hague, those who have been suspected and indicted as war criminals, especially if such attempts from our part were linked to a high degree of risks, risks that the international community is cautioning Montenegro not to take.
QUESTION: It seems, Mr. President, that there is a race between democratization inside Serbia and a trend towards independence for Montenegro. And which do you think will win, and what makes you think that element will win?
PRESIDENT DJUKANOVIC: You know what is the choice of diplomacy that I pursue that is an attempt to try and preserve the Yugoslav union while trying to redefine the relationship between Serbia and Montenegro on a new basis.
Also you're right, because of misguided policy pursued by Mr. Milosevic for longer than a decade, there is a growing pressure from Montenegrin citizens in the direction of independence. So it's now up to us whether we will show ourselves to be skillful enough to show the citizens of Montenegro that they can, even within the Yugoslav union, see better prospects for their future.
When I speak of and I refer to our skill and our skillfulness, I do not have in mind only the skill of Montenegro and ability of Montenegro, but that of the international community because Montenegro cannot do this by itself.
Should that support through the democratic and reform-oriented Montenegro such as it is today fail to materialize, then it is only too logical to expect that the pressures for independence among the population of Montenegro will tend to grow.
QUESTION: Television Montenegro. Madame Secretary, would you please comment on today's decision of the Belgrade government to cut off all financial transactions with Montenegro?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say in discussions with President Djukanovic we have been talking about the economic problems caused by Belgrade's policy for Montenegro and the threat posed to the Montenegrin economy as a result of the inflationary practices in Serbia.
I believe from my discussions with the President, not only today but over the weekend, that he was well aware of the problems that might be created as a result of his move on the Deutschmark and that he made the choice in full realization of the fact that there might be this kind of action. And he believed that the steps that he took would help the Montenegrin economy in a way that would actually create a better result than staying linked to Serbia – economically, that is. Let's be absolutely clear: in terms of their economies.
But I do believe that this is not a helpful act in terms of showing the unity that is necessary for all Serbian and Montenegrin people and it is a sign as to why it is important, as President Djukanovic has said, for the international community to be supportive of a democratically elected Montenegrin government that is supporting economic reforms.
Thank you very much.
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