June 28, 2006

Montenegro admitted as 192nd United Nations member

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.

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.

After Serbia's U.N. envoy wished Montenegro well, 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.

Jackie Sanders, a U.S. deputy ambassador, told the
assembly, "We join our colleagues in extending our
congratulations to the Republic of Montenegro on this momentous
occasion in its history."

Shortly 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.

"The people of Montenegro demonstrated that adherence to
democratic values and the rule of law offer the most effective
way to achieve political goals," Annan said. "These are
especially important messages given the recent violent past in
the Balkan region."

(Additional reporting by Ljubinka Cagorovic in Podgorica)