The United States is fully aware that there are external influences that are trying actively to destabilize and disrupt Montenegro’s democratic progress and derail it from its Euro-Atlantic future, the United States Ambassador to Montenegro Judy Rising Reinke said the opening of the 11th 2BS Forum organized by the Atlantic Council of Montenegro.
She said that the Unites States encouraged all political leaders to do everything they could to unite around shared democratic values including multiculturalism and tolerance, as well as to support a unified, sovereign Montenegro in which all citizens of Montenegro have a home.
Rising Reinke said that she was concerned by the level of divisiveness visible in our society.
When I arrived in Montenegro in 2018, this country was a point of pride in the midst of the Western Balkans. Recent event, however, have stoke tensions, deepening societal divisions, she said, adding that the potential for these divisions to be further exacerbated does exist.
She illustrated that on the example of the United States’ questioning the utility of a national census at this time that focuses on divisive questions like national ethnicity; “certain political forces have been cynically promoting the undertaking hoping it would further drive a wedge between those who identify as Serb and those who identify as Montenegrin, and potentially further marginalizing those who embrace other protected identities.“
Montenegro’s tradition of multiculturalism has long been a stabilizing force in the Western Balkans, the Ambassador said. However, what she sees alarming is the seeming erosion of the celebration of diversity that is particularly visible and escalating political rhetoric.
Rising Reinke appealed to the politicians to stay focused on achieving progress in areas that speed the EU accession process, which would in turn bring prosperous future for the citizens of Montenegro. The United States remains very ready to support constructive dialogue that will lead Montenegro towards its Euro-Atlantic path, the U.S. Ambassador said.
That path means meeting the agenda that includes strengthening the rule of law, confronting trans-national organized crime, rooting out entrenched corruption, and the establishment of independent judiciary, she said. She commended some recent successes in the security sector and the high-profiled arrests of high-profile organized crime cases.
Referring to the position of NATO, she said that that Alliance faced nowadays threats that included some greater power efforts to weaken or even destroy the Alliance. Rising Reinke reminded that NATO remanded only as strong as each and every one of its members’ commitment to the Alliance.
It is essential that all of us, NATO members, do our parts to strengthen the Alliance, whether that means meeting financial obligations or sending military troops to participate at NATO missions that bolster regional cooperation. In that sense, she commended Montenegro as a credible Alliance’s ally.
In the end, the Ambassador said to the people of Montenegro to stay true to the vision of a secure, democratic, and multiethnic Montenegro, one that is destined to take its rightful place among the European democracies as a member of the European Union.