Igor Lukšić’s Address to the Central-European Initiative

Igor Lukšić, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, addresses the Summit of the Central-European Initiative (CEI) in Belgrade on 4 November 2011. Here are Primer Minister Lukšić’s remarks to the summit.

Mr. Chairman, your excellences, dear colleagues, ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to greet you all on behalf of the Government of Montenegro and to thank you for the invitation to participate in the work of the Central European Initiative Summit. I am convinced that this summit will give an additional encouragement to the strengthening of regional and economic cooperation between our countries, and our common European prospects and providing for improvement in the quality of life of citizens in this part of Europe. I take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to our host, the Prime Minister of Serbia, Mr. Mirko Cvetković, for his hospitality and successful organization of the this event.

The times we live in impose numerous challenges, both internally and from the aspect of our foreign policy. Aware of that fact, in the Government of Montenegro, we have been working persistently and continuously on the implementation of a whole set of reforms, within the demanding agenda that we have set. Our goals involve improvement of living conditions for our citizens, further democratization of our society, strengthening of regional and economic ties and all forms of cooperation, in the light of our European future. The European’s Commission recommendation to open accession talks is therefore historical contribution for stability of the Region.

I believe that in the period behind, we have confirmed our strong commitment to the strengthening of regional dialogue and stability of the region of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as its progress in economic and social terms. I personally see that as a prerequisite, but also as a good mechanism for the implementation of wider integration processes that we, as a society, are aimed at.

I wish to remind you that in the past year Montenegro chaired successfully the most important regional initiatives and represented a significant factor in the process of implementation of activities aimed at integrating the efforts of all stakeholders, with the aim of creating networks and connections between state institutions, the civil society and the people in this region.

As a politically mature and responsible society, we are continuously striving to ensure better future for our citizens, through concrete cooperation and communication, but also through the development of mutual trust, and to achieve the highest possible level of stability, the rule of law and to encourage economic cooperation.

Today, Montenegro is a stable country in political and economic terms. We managed to overcome the global economic and financial crisis with the minimum negative effects, accepting openly the reality and facing the economic challenges. The global crisis confirmed that the main guidelines of the economic policy of Montenegro, related to further stabilization of the public finance, improvement of the business environment and structural reforms, aimed at creating a stable, dynamic and competitive economy in the long run, as well as the improvement of the quality of life of all citizens of Montenegro, are well set.

A prerequisite for further stabilization of the public finance is to eliminate budgetary deficit in the years to come and to reduce the public debt below 40%, in order to ensure improvements in the credit rating.

56th position of Montenegro in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report for 2011 which includes 183 countries is a reason for satisfaction. Every step forward in this respect makes us happy, but we believe that it is necessary to improve even more successfully the business environment for entrepreneurs and investors in Montenegro.

We are implementing structural reform measures in the areas of health, education, science, labor, social welfare and the pension system, in order to recover and strengthen the Montenegrin economy. With such Government measures, we will improve the quality of services and create a more flexible labor market on one hand, while responding to the long-term demographic challenges on the other.

Ensuring continuity in attracting new capital and creation of prerequisites for realization of new investments will eventually result in the attainment of our ultimate goal – improvement of the quality of life of all the citizens in Montenegro.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the process of integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures represents a goal that is directly connected with the improvement in the quality of life of our citizens, followed by more intensive economic relations, based on the stability of the overall political circumstances. I am convinced that, through our individual and common efforts and activities, we will manage to create an environment in which we share and cherish common values and that we will cease the opportunities before us.

In such a context, the importance of CEI membership, as the oldest regional initiative is unquestionable. CEI proved to be a comprehensive forum for continuous dialogue, based on mutual understanding. I am convinced that we will work intensively on concrete implementation of the Budva recommendations, in support of empowering of CEI and strengthening of institutional connections with the European Union, and on the implementation of macro-regional strategies in the Danube and Adriatic-Ionian regions, and further, even more successful, cooperation with EBRD. Our experiences and knowledge must be used properly to promote project-oriented cooperation, through the initiation and implementation of joint project activities in the priority areas.

The financial crisis that we have faced confirmed in the clearest possible way the necessity for all countries, including the countries in Central and Eastern Europe, to review and adapt their policies to extreme situations and global economic trends, and to implement policies aimed at sustainable growth.

Effects of the global economic crisis can be felt everywhere around us and represent an additional challenge to find, in regional terms, efficient formulas how to minimize negative trends from the global market that affect economic stability of this region. I personally believe that the only success formula in this respect is the continuation of, as well as additional impetus to our regional dialogue.

Reforms require time and, despite the fact that we have achieved significant progress, there is still a long road ahead. At the same time, I believe that the Central and Eastern Europe as a region has a strong potential for economic growth and that such a potential should be, and I firmly believe that it will be fully used, through the implementation of adequate policies and forms of cooperation.

Dear colleagues, please, allow me to avail of this opportunity and commend Serbia for the chairmanship over the Central European Initiative so far and for the successful organization of numerous meetings at the political and expert-project level, convinced that Ukraine, which will take over the chairmanship over this Initiative, will work with the same intensity and commitment on the implementation of our common agenda, in which Montenegro will always be your reliable partner.

Thank you for your attention!

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