Brexit 'is not actually done' for UK says Nandy
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In an interview with the Express, Montenegro’s new Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić said he respects Boris Johnson and sees the UK as an important ally. Speaking from his office in the nation’s capital Cetinje for the first time to a British publication, he said: “I deeply appreciate everything the UK does for this small country.”
Prime Minister Krivokapić was elected to office in September 2020 after beating the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and is the country’s first independent Prime Minister following decades of socialist rule.
Sitting down to discuss all aspects of diplomacy from Brexit to coronavirus, Montenegro’s Prime Minister claimed Brexit has caused significant suffering for the UK.
Mr Krivokapić told the Express: “Just like there was a part of the population that was for Brexit and the second half was opposing Brexit.
“A huge amount of the population in the country were following the whole process with utmost attention especially what is considered to be the greatest challenge the EU has come across since its establishment.”
The Montenegrin politician claimed the validity of support for a pledge such as Brexit was a “referendum” stressing it is the “best expression of democracy.”
He added: “Citizens will is the measure of every politician. I accepted that as a measure that determined the future way of the United Kingdom.”
The European leader, who runs a grand party coalition, compared the UK’s process of leaving the EU as a difficult step in a marriage.
The former university professor said: “Just like in marriage when there are some points of contention or misunderstandings between the spouses, there is always someone or one side that has to do something.
“My grandfather used to tell me, if you ever find yourself in a situation like this, do it fairly, justly and give even more than you are able to give.
“This final act talks in favour of good cause that really had to happen.
“The measure of all this is this recent trade agreement which in the best case will be the subject of historical research.”
Turning to his thoughts of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mr Krivokapić said he “hadn’t had the opportunity” to meet him in person but stressed he hoped to have “a stable and continuous relationship” with the Conservative party leader.
Prime Minister Krivokapić claimed Mr Johnson’s term so far had been a “huge challenge” especially with leaving the EU.
He said: “It was a huge challenge for Boris Johnson to find the most suitable and most just answer to every problem during Brexit.”
The independent politician said the seal of a politician’s activities is “best judged by history.”
Mr Krivokapić also stressed the importance of Montenegro’s strategic goal of EU membership and the importance of establishing closer ties with Brussels.
Montenegro leaders started the process of Accession to the European Union in November 2005, just months before the state became fully independent and severed ties with Serbia in a Union.
After years of talks, Brussels said accession would be possible by 2025 with Mr Krivokapić stressing the country’s future lies “exclusively within the EU.”
When asked whether he thought other countries such as Albania or North Macedonia who are currently negotiating membership could join the Bloc ahead of them, he said: “In my opinion, this is not a sports field where this is a competition around participants.
“This is a field where every participant has equal and equitable chances for success.”
He pledged Montenegro is the “leading country in the region regarding the EU negotiations and accession process”.
But he added: “It doesn’t mean that some other country cannot be better.”
Mr Krivokapic also raised hope for nations such as Scotland who are considering their constitutional future and wish to rejoin the EU could participate in bloc schemes such as student exchange scheme Erasmus.
He told this publication: “Some countries who haven’t had their independence confirmed, also take part and participate in some of the European institutions.
“And that gives a chance to be able to be in a preparation stage for everything that comes in the future.”
Addressing countries who seek or wish to join the Bloc in the future, he claimed: “We want to share our knowledge and experience in order for the other countries to be as successful.”
Mr Krivokapić’s new government is backed by around 20 small parties with a broad range of political stances.
Discussing the coronavirus pandemic, he pledged to have half of all Montenegrin citizens vaccinated by the middle of April making clear that tackling the pandemic will be one of the Government’s successes.
He said: “Montenegro is in a very unpleasant situation which hasn’t been provoked by this Government.
“Our population is not huge but currently we are leading regarding the number of infectious people in our country.
“Like many other countries, we have been through phrases from total lockdown to total ease of restrictions and currently we are in some sort of intelligent control of the virus.”
Despite the vaccination pledge, he claimed more than 100,000 Montenegrin residents were immune claiming that “would be enough” to reopen the country for international travellers.
So far, the country has recorded 86,782 coronavirus cases and 1,194 deaths.
He said: “That gives us hope that this part of the economy, Tourism, will be much better after the vaccination campaign.”
Reflecting on Health Secretary’s Matt Hancock’s thanks to NHS staff, he made clear the greatest heroes were the country’s health workers claiming the country “owe them gratitude”.
The Montenegrin Prime Minister also expressed support for newly elected President Joe Biden stressing they had shared characteristics.
Referring to the newly elected President, Mr Krivokapić said: “In essence, I am a democrat who is also a Christian.
“In those terms, I am very close to the new American administration although I don’t belong to any political party.”
He made clear that a “huge majority in Montenegro” believed and expected that the change from Trump to Biden will bring about some “very radical changes.”
Mr Krivokapić concluded: “That is the perception being created at the local level.
“But as far as I know, the new American administration won’t change any strategic principles regarding others just like our Government will not.”
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