Montenegro's President says his decision to go to Belgrade - the only leader of a former Yugoslav republic to attend the inauguration of President Tomislav Nikolic - reflected his respect for the will of Serbian voters.
Filip Vujanovic, Montenegro's head of state, was the only president of a former Yugoslav republic to attend the inauguration of Serbia's newly elected President, Tomislav Nikolic, on Monday.
He said that he came to the ceremony to express his respect for the will of Serbian people who had elected Nikolic.
“We need to cooperate as partners, as two independent states which respect each other’s sovereignty and do not interfere into each other's internal affairs, but know how to cooperate closely,“ the Montenegrin leader said, noting Nikolic's promise to foster good-neighbourly relations.
He added that Montenegro extends its own hand to such cooperation and expressed expectations that Nikolic will be a partner and will help secure the equality and the future of the two states.
Soon after he was elected president, Nikolic, once a deputy chairman of the Serbian Radical Party and an opponent of Montenegrin independence, said that he recognised Montenegro as an independent state.
However, he caused controversy by describing the town of Vukovar in Croatia - a symbol of their fight for independence in the 1990s - as "Serbian", and by denying that the mass slaughter of Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica in 1995 was an act of genocide.
Barik Izetbegovic, chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina's presidency, Danilo Tuerk, the Slovenian President and Ivo Josipovic of Croatia all declined invitations to attend Nikolic's inauguration.