June 28, 2006

Montenegro became 192nd member of United Nations

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Montenegro on Wednesday became
the 192nd member of the United Nations, a month after it ended
its 88-year partnership with Serbia that completed the breakup
of the former Yugoslavia.

"I declare the Republic of Montenegro admitted to
membership in the United Nations," U.N. General Assembly
President Jan Eliasson announced after calling for approval by
acclamation in the 191-nation body.

General Assembly members then broke into applause as the
Balkan country's president, Filip Vujanovic, Foreign Minister
Miodrag Vlahovic and U.N. envoy Nebojsa Kaludjerovic were
escorted to their new seats, next to the Mongolian delegation.

"I am confident that Montenegro will strive for good
neighborly relations and strong regional cooperation in the
western Balkans, thus promoting stability in an area struck by
conflict in the recent past," Eliasson said.

The resolution accepting Montenegro as a member was
introduced by Austria's U.N. ambassador, Gerhard Pfanzelter,
whose country currently heads the 25-member European Union.

Montenegro has about 650,000 people, compared to Serbia's
population of 7.5 million, with a landscape of forested
mountains and a sparkling Adriatic coast destined for a tourism

It declared independence from Serbia on June 3, after a
referendum passed by a slim margin on May 21.

The U.N. seat previously assigned to Serbia and Montenegro
is now in Serbia's hands. The last country to join the United
Nations was East Timor, in September 2002.

After Serbia's U.N. envoy congratulated Montenegro,
Vujanovic said he particularly wanted to develop close
cooperation with Belgrade "in all spheres of common interest
reflecting our social and historic ties."

"Montenegro has been very proud of its multiethnic and
multireligious harmony, as one of its fundamental values,
recognizable both in a regional and broader international
context," Vujanovic said.

After the General Assembly plenary, U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, Eliasson and the Montenegro delegation went to the
front lawn of the U.N. complex to raise Montenegro's red flag
bearing a gold coat of arms.

Montenegro has been recognized by the United States, the
EU, Russia and many other countries. U.N. membership means
acceptance of Montenegro as an independent nation by nearly all
countries in the world.

Montenegro is the last of former Yugoslavia's constituent
republics to leave the orbit of Serbia, after Slovenia,
Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia split during the bloody Balkan
wars of the 1990s.

Its decision restores the independent status it gave up at
the end of World War One when Yugoslavia was formed. Separation
from Serbia, its closest ally, ends a long partnership of two
peoples sharing the same language, religion and culture.

(Additional reporting by Ljubinka Cagorovic in Podgorica)