10:33 GMT +319 October 2019
Listen Live
    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, right, and Montenegro's Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic, left, take their seats during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council and Montenegro at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, May 19, 2016

    Will Trump Open the Door to Montenegro's NATO Membership?

    © AP Photo / Virginia Mayo
    Politics
    Get short URL
    1199
    Subscribe

    The fate of Montenegro's NATO membership is now in the hands of US President Donald Trump. While some US lawmakers continue to push ahead with Montenegro's accession to the alliance, others regard it as a potential provocation against Russia and argue that the Balkan country adds "almost nothing" to the bloc's security.

    US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may recommend President Donald Trump to back Montenegro's NATO membership, Andrew Hanna of Politico.com reported on Monday, citing a senior administration official.

    The journalist noted that twenty-three of 28 NATO member states have already voted in favor of Montenegro's bid. the United States, Canada, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands have yet to announce their decision. 

    Meanwhile US lawmakers signaled their willingness to support Montenegro's NATO bid: the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor of the treaty with the Balkan state on January 11, 2017.

    "I look forward to welcoming Montenegro into the NATO Alliance and continuing to support its path towards further Euro-Atlantic integration," Senator John McCain said in an official statement commenting on the matter.

    "Because adding a nation to NATO is a treaty measure, support from two-thirds of senators is required to secure passage. But the Constitution delegates the power to negotiate treaties to the president and Trump could refuse to relay the ratification to NATO, indefinitely stalling the process," Hanna highlighted.

    Montenegrin Army soldiers fire artillery look at the Montenegro flag during preparations on the eve of Independence day, on May 20, 2010 in Cetinje
    © AFP 2019 / SAVO PRELEVIC
    Montenegrin Army soldiers fire artillery look at the Montenegro flag during preparations on the eve of Independence day, on May 20, 2010 in Cetinje

    It is no secret that NATO's eastward expansion, including the possible admission of Montenegro to the alliance, remains a sensitive issue for the Kremlin.

    "If we abstract from some media reports and statements, the attitude of the Russian Federation toward the further expansion of NATO to the east is well known. This attitude is negative," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday.

    Peskov added that the Kremlin would abstain from commenting on media reports on Montenegro accession to NATO. He said that Moscow has not yet received any official statement on the matter from the Trump administration.

    Meanwhile, on January 26 Montenegro's Prime Minister Dusko Markovic announced that Podgorica expects to become a full-fledged member of NATO before the next summit of the military alliance.

    "We were exposed to pressure aimed at blocking our accession to NATO, but we have resisted them due to the power of the state, its institutions, democracy and democratic principles," Markovic said in a reference to the opposition boycott, which he called "part of plans to destabilize Montenegro in political terms and disable it to become a member of NATO".

    However, national polls, cited by Hanna indicate that only 39.5 percent of Montenegrins favor the country's NATO membership while 39.7 percent oppose it.

    Furthermore, according to Andrei Kelin, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's European Cooperation Department, as of yet Montenegro has failed to meet the criteria for NATO membership.

    Speaking to Sputnik in mid-December, Kelin expressed his concerns regarding Podgorica's ability to add to the Alliance's security.

    "Montenegro is being dragged into NATO at an accelerated and strengthened rate. Montenegro does not meet in any way the criteria of membership in the alliance, which were developed in the past," Kelin warned, adding the country's economy is currently in deplorable state while its armed forces are comprised of less than 2,000 military servicemen.

    Daniel Larison of the American Conservative echoes Kelin: according to the US commentator, bringing Montenegro to NATO "makes no sense."

    "The alliance gains nothing from making Montenegro a member, and it takes on one more security dependent that we already know won't pull its weight," Larison said.

    He noted that besides the fact that Podgorica adds "almost nothing to the Alliance," its NATO bid does not have broad support at home.

    "It doesn't make sense to take in a new alliance member when there is no consensus in that country in favor of belonging to the alliance. NATO shouldn't be adding new members in any case, but it certainly shouldn't be taking in a country that doesn't have a majority behind the idea of joining," the US commentator noted.

    In his article Hanna cited Senator Rand Paul who has recently raised concerns over a potential provocation against Russia.

    "I think that many are referring to this as a provocation to Russia, and also, I think NATO is too big already," Paul said as quoted by the journalist, "Ultimately, joining NATO is not necessarily a benign thing."

    Related:

    Montenegro's NATO Accession Sidelined by US Senate Once Again
    Greek Parliament Approves Protocol on Montenegro's Accession to NATO
    Italian, Norwegian Parliaments Ratify Montenegro's NATO Accession Protocol
    How Montenegro's Economy Was 'Knocked Out' by a Strong Dollar
    NATO Activities in Black Sea Region Fight Against Non-Existent Threats - Moscow
    Trump's Push for 2% Defense Spending to Let NATO Cover 'Entire Earth' With Bases
    Tags:
    NATO accession, NATO expansion, provocation, NATO, Michael Flynn, Rand Paul, Donald Trump, John McCain, Dmitry Peskov, United States, Russia, Montenegro
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik