Vice-President Mike Pence said on Wednesday in Montenegro that the U.S. sees the future of the region “in the West” and not with Russia.
“We truly believe the future of western Balkans is in the West,” Pence said after meeting Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic.
The comment came ahead of a conference with premiers from the region in the final stop of his tour of countries bordering Russia’s sphere of influence.
“We look forward to reaffirming the commitment of the U.S. to build relationships that will strengthen the ties between the European community, the Western Balkans and the U.S.,” he added.
At a dinner with with President Filip Vujanovic and Markovic the night before, Pence said how Montenegro’s “courage, particularly under Russian pressure, inspires the world,” the Montenegrin government tweeted.
Montenegro is the latest country to join NATO, in June, after reversing its previously warm relations with Moscow.
The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, in power longer than 25 years, also had to fight through resistance from the pro-Russia opposition, which promised to hold a referendum on revoking the membership in NATO.
“We have irrevocably tied our destiny to values promoted by this alliance (NATO),” Markovic stressed.
The U.S. Deputy Leader was due to participate in an Adriatic regional conference with the premiers of Montenegro, Croatia, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Slovenia and Kosovo.
He travelled to Montenegro after stops in Estonia and Georgia.