US Vice-President Joseph Biden praised Montenegro’s progress towards joining NATO and said Washington supports Montenegro’s aspirations to closen ties with Europe.
“Montenegro has achieved progress in pursuing reforms and standards within the integration processes, particularly in the field of security, rule of law and strengthening of the public support for NATO integration,” Biden said on Tuesday after meeting Montenegro’s Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic.
Djukanovic, who is on an three-day official visit to Washington, said the US made a huge contribution to the overall progress of Montenegro when the country was making extensive efforts to preserve multiethnic harmony and peace.
According to the White House, Biden and Djukanovic discussed the situation in the Balkans generally as well as Russia’s pressure on Ukraine.
Djukanovic said that the US Vice President did not discuss the bribery allegations surrounding the privatisation of the state-owned Telekom firm.
In March, the US authorities said it had evidence of bribery in the privatisation of Telekom and called on Montenegro to conduct an investigation and bring any guilty parties to justice.
Earlier on Tuesday, Dјukanovic met US Senator John McCain and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
Senator McCain said Montenegro deserved to join the Western military alliance. “Montenegro’s membership to NATO could be a driving force for stability in the region,” he observed.
Recent surveys suggest that only around 40 per cent of the population support NATO membership, however, which is no more than in 2006, when Montenegro first made intensive contacts with the alliance.
Surveys also show that NATO is at the bottom of the priority list for most people, well behind the economy, unemployment, corruption, and education.