Secretary of Defense Speech

Remarks at a Bilateral Meeting with Montenegrin Minister of Defense Boskovic


 

Mr. Minister, members of the delegation, Ambassador -- welcome to the Pentagon, and welcome back to America, Mr. Minister. It is good to see our two flags flying together on the steps of the Pentagon, as they should be.

Since Montenegro regained its independence in 2006, our two nations have steadily fostered strengthened military-to-military relations, bolstered by shared values between two countries based in democracy.

After seeing each other earlier this month at the NATO Defense Ministerial in Brussels, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Montenegro to the NATO alliance. We are very proud and supportive of this, and I’m glad to see you here.

As Secretary-General Stoltenberg said during your accession ceremony last June, NATO is “a community of values,” and your country has become “an integral part of that community,” reinforcing our transatlantic unity.

The United States is proud to call you our ally, as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder alongside our fellow NATO members against common security threats, like those posed by Russia, as it seeks to redraw international borders by force and seeks veto authority over European diplomatic, economic and security decisions. In the face of such threats, the United States will continue to engage Russia to honor both the letter and spirit of its international commitments.

We appreciate Montenegro’s plan to reach two percent defense spending by 2024, sharing the defense burden and ensuring our militaries remains fit for our time.

We also appreciate Montenegro’s promise to increase troop contributions to the Mission in Afghanistan. I must recognize that more than 25 percent of your land forces have served in Afghanistan during 16 different rotations. Poet Lord Tennyson’s words on Montenegro from almost two centuries ago still hold true: there are no “mightier mountaineers,” no braver soldiers, than your country’s troops.

Today, I look forward to discussing steps to strengthen our military-to-military relationship, including signing a General Security of Information Agreement to enhance our bilateral cooperation.

Mr. Minister, welcome – it is good to host you on this, your first and surely not your last visit to the Pentagon.

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