At a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., Montenegro's Ambassador to the U.S. Miodrag Vlahovic signed NATO's Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement, for which the United States is the depositary government. The U.S. welcomes the signing of the Status of Forces Agreement as another indication of Montenegro's growing integration into the Euro-Atlantic community and commitment to regional stability.
Partnership for Peace is a program of practical bilateral cooperation between individual Partner countries and NATO. Based on a commitment to the democratic principles that underpin the NATO Alliance itself, the purpose of the Partnership for Peace is to increase stability, diminish threats to peace and build strengthened security relationships between individual Partner countries and NATO, and among Partner countries.
The Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement is a multilateral agreement between NATO member states and countries participating in the Partnership for Peace. It deals with the status of foreign military forces while present on the territory of another state. The agreement was originally drawn up in Brussels on June 19, 1995 to facilitate cooperation and exercises under the Partnership for Peace program. These Status of Forces Agreements fully respect the principle of territorial sovereignty, which requires a receiving state to give its consent to the entry of foreign forces. Montenegro was invited to join Partnership for Peace at the NATO Summit in Riga in November 2006.
The U.S. partnership with Montenegro took another step this month with the launch of the STARS project. The STARS initiative will work with entrepreneurs, small and medium business and citizens, as well as the central and local governments to promote economic development in Northern Montenegro.
The U.S. has also dedicated more assistance to strengthen Montenegro's criminal justice system, including a multi-year program announced in August implemented by the U.S. Department of Justice. The U.S. Embassy in Podgorica, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, and the Southeastern European Cooperative Initiative, provided law enforcement equipment valued at $75,000 to Montenegrin police. U.S. Assistance, with the help of the Department of Justice, FBI and other Federal agencies is intended to help Montenegro fight organized crime, drug trafficking, human smuggling, and terrorism.
The U.S. is committed to working with Montenegro to foster democracy, prosperity, and security for Montenegro and the region.