Türkiye and Montenegro as NATO partners share the possibility for intensive cooperation on regional initiatives, Montenegro's president told Anadolu Agency.
Noting that the two countries share "traditionally friendly relations," Milo Dukanovic said the bilateral ties between Ankara and Podgorica have gotten "increasingly richer" with each passing year.
He also drew attention to the support and intense cooperation opportunities that Türkiye and Montenegro have on other international platforms, especially the UN, and in multilateral treaties.
"I would say that we are using actually quite well the historical and cultural background that we have, and this has actually been used to lay the foundation for the new generations to work in the interest of our countries and to develop new friendships," said Dukanovic.
Describing Russia's ongoing war on Ukraine as "a brutal aggression of Russia against an independent European country," Dukanovic said: "And what makes this mistake even bigger is the fact that this aggression is being committed by a country that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and the country that should be respecting the Charter of the UN and the international order."
He further said Montenegro had a "prior negative experience" with Russia's attempts to "control our future" back in 2016, when Montenegro was "just about to join NATO."
"And this was a time period when we had permanently on a daily basis high level political messages from Moscow that Montenegro should not be joining NATO, and that this would be bound to make our relations worse with Russia," he said.
Dukanovic recalled that Montenegro's "centuries-long tradition of interstate relations" with Russia should also be taken into account.
"Recently we celebrated three centuries of those relations. We do at the same time respect that tradition and approach it responsibly. But, of course, at the same time, we do not think that tradition should be a reason for us to renounce the rights to decide about our own future ourselves," he said.
The Balkan state leader stressed that Montenegro is an independent EU and NATO member country that adopts the European value system, adding that each country should "decide its own future."
"This is why we do not think it's proper or appropriate to decide on behalf of any other country about that country's future, which applies to Ukraine. We especially strongly oppose these methods that are being used by Russia in Ukraine, in an attempt to influence its future," he added.
'War can't resolve political misunderstandings'
"It is obvious that Russia has chosen the path of being destructive towards the West and towards the Europe specifically," he said, adding that Russia is trying to use focal points to implement that "aggressive or destructive policy."
"And for the implementation of its distracting doctrine for Europe, the Western Balkans seemed like a fertile soil for Russia," the president said.
Dukanovic underlined that the Western Balkan countries are "still not strong enough" and that there is a "strong pro-Russian sentiment" based on historical solid foundations in the population living in the region.
"So, Russia is trying to play with those sentiments, I would say, in a manner which is fully irresponsible."
He underlined that the situation will continue until a "more reasonable relationship" is established between the East and the West, and until the dialogue on the relationship between Russia and Europe is renewed.
Dukanovic said that Russia needs to meet "some preconditions" on Ukraine, such as "stopping aggression and killing of people," as well as reestablishing normal interstate relations between those two countries.
"Because everyone has to understand today that a war has no means for resolving political misunderstandings," he said, noting that the only possible way for resolving any misunderstanding is a political dialogue.
"The chaos in Ukraine today actually brings nothing but huge victims and suffering," he said.
Stressing the importance of taking urgent action regarding the situation in Ukraine for the future of Russia-Europe relations, Dukanovic said "this is the only thing that could guarantee that Russian destructive policy including towards the Western Balkans would stop."
Noting that the matter of a NATO membership is "vitally important" for his country, Dukanovic said: "Today it's clear to everyone that the war in Ukraine is not just against Ukraine, it's also the war against the European unity and European value system."
He also stressed that NATO proved to be a "very reliable, secure collective security system" for all the member states, as well as a "strong deterrent" against threats, and the "strong guarantor of peace for those countries that are still not NATO members but around it."
He said thanks to the NATO membership, Montenegro is perceived nowadays by its citizens, foreign investors and by the region as a "much more prosperous and secure place than it used to be a couple of years ago."
"Such perception is created by all the activities we have undertaken and implemented in the past years and one of them being the reforms we have undertaken to be able to join NATO."
Noting that his country's experience with NATO is "most positive," Dukanovic said he would "highly recommend" to any interested or aspiring countries to join NATO.
* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from AnkaraAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.