Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Luksic has said the support of Turkey, which he describes as one of the most important members of NATO, is very important for his country. During a joint press conference with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday, Luksic claimed relations between Turkey and Montenegro are very positive.
Luksic placed emphasis on strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries. “We took important steps and signed several agreements to develop relations, especially in terms of the economy,” said Luksic, adding that agreements on civil aviation and social security were also important. He expressed hope that Turkish entrepreneurs would be encouraged by the agreements and take positive steps to make the most of the opportunities Montenegro presents. Currently, there are a number of Turkish companies in Montenegro, operating in the construction, infrastructure and energy sectors. The trade volume between the two countries was $42 million at the end of 2011. The Montenegrin prime minister maintained that they are waiting for proposals from entrepreneurs for the construction of three airports. Also noting that there was cooperation between the defense ministries of the two countries, Luksic said Turkey and Montenegro had similar views on regional matters. He said Turkey’s support for the Balkans was very important for stability in the region.
He added that Montenegro would extend Turkey support in its aspiration to host the 2020 Olympics in İstanbul and also for its EXPO 2020 bid. The northwestern province of İzmir is a candidate for host city of the 2020 EXPO, a global economic fair organized every five years. In remarks parallel to those of Luksic, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also said during the conference that Turkey’s support for Montenegro will continue as part of its goal to promote peace and stability in the Balkans. “We have always supported Montenegro in its NATO and EU accession process,” Erdoğan asserted. Montenegro applied to join NATO after it split from Serbia in 2006. The country anticipates being granted membership at an upcoming NATO summit in Chicago in May. It was also granted candidate status by the EU in 2010. The country’s accession talks are likely to begin in June, provided Podgorica makes progress in dealing with organized crime and corruption. Erdoğan claimed that Montenegro would support Turkey’s UN Security Council membership for the 2015-2016 term. He further noted that Turkey was one of the first countries to support Montenegro’s independence. “We encourage Turkish businessmen to invest in Montenegro,” said Erdoğan, adding that Turkish Airlines (THY) flights to this country would increase from three to four weekly. Prior to the press conference, Turkey and Montenegro signed several agreements on social security and employment.