Lajcak: Montenegro Needs to Focus on Economic Matters

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Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, May 24 (TASR) – Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak has conceded that there are some political forces in Montenegro that haven’t come to terms with the country’s independence even ten years after its secession from Serbia, TASR learnt on Tuesday.

“The main area that still needs to be improved is the economy. Living standards are increasing, but there are still differences across regions, and the economy is quite vulnerable, as it’s based mainly on tourism,” stated Lajcak, who recently visited Montenegro on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of its independence.

Montenegro’s referendum on independence was held on May 21, 2006. More than 55 percent of all those that took part voted in favour of secession from Serbia. “I was commissioned by the EU with organising this referendum. We set the threshold for independence at 55 percent of all those taking part. But what’s more important is that the results can’t be doubted because the turnout was above 86 percent,” said Lajcak.

Lajcak has been monitoring Montenegro ever since it became independent. He’s glad that in ten years it’s achieved far more than anyone would have expected. He stressed that the country is the closest to EU membership among other countries of the Western Balkans seeking admission. It’s opened 22 chapters and already concluded two.

Montenegro signed the accession protocol to join NATO last week and has become a de facto member of the Alliance. “It’s a constructive country within the region. It doesn’t have any problems with its neighbours, and it’s a stabilising element in the whole region. It’s been proven that Montenegro is vigorous,” said Lajcak.

Lajcak would welcome it if Montenegro became a full EU member. The country should focus on questions of an economic and social character. One such issue is the extension of a motorway that leads to the south of Croatia so that it will continue as far as Montenegro, thereby giving Slovaks among others easier access to the country.