Montenegro is on the brink of NATO


On December 1, during the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels Montenegro may receive an official invitation to join the organization. But such fateful decisions for the country’s membership in military alliance could be realized only by the will of people at a referendum. Moreover, in the case of Montenegro’s accession to NATO membership, Russia will have to change its policy in relation to this friendly country. 




Referendum or Crisis


Such an opinion was expressed by the State Duma during the international “round table” with representatives of the Montenegrin parliamentary opposition parties dedicated to the crisis in the Adriatic republic. 


As noted vice-chairman of the State Duma Sergei Zheleznyak – today in Montenegro important decisions are made without wide public consideration that pushes the republic into a deep crisis. In late September, it has already led to harsh clashes between police and demonstrators in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica. And in the end of November, in the second largest city of Niksic (industrial center of Montenegro) with a population of 57 thousand people was held a rally which brought together 12 thousand people against the policy pursued by the authorities. “Any decision on the accession of Montenegro to the bloc, should be taken on the basis of international law as well as on the basis of the Montenegrin legislation, which is based on the acceptance of the peoples will, – stressed the deputy. – For that reason, we fully support those initiative groups that try to insist on holding a referendum”. He stressed that Russia will accept any results of the popular ballot.


According to the State Duma deputies, based on the position of republic’s citizens, “neutrality could give Montenegro more political and even economic benefits than the subordination to one or another block”. Republic’s accession into NATO will not pass unnoticed in Russia. “If there will be placed the military infrastructure of the alliance, we will have to react accordingly, in an appropriate manner limit our contacts in the economic and other ambits, in which citizens of Montenegro rely on Russia”, – said Sergei Zheleznyak.


Security Won’t Be Enhanced


On the other hand, no need to think that the possible accession of Montenegro into NATO is able to enhance the security of the country, stressed the participants of the “round table”. A living example are the recent events in France. At the same time it won’t strengthen the North Atlantic alliance itself, taking into consideration not only floating to the surface Montenegrin leadership’s ties with semi-criminal structures. “Comprising a state in which there is an open conflict, NATO could run into the need of responding to the actions of another country, which discredits and destroys what NATO says by its behavior”, – said Zheleznyak. According to him, the Montenegrin leadership feeling the loss of support from the population, seeks to implement given tasks as soon as possible, in fact.


In this context, Montenegrin people can always count on the Russian support, considers Sergei Zheleznyak. “We will prove in all civilized formats that it exists”, – he added. This evidenced by taken on November 20, corresponding application by the lower house of the Russian parliament, with an appeal to the parliamentarians of other countries to prevent NATO expansion at the expense of Montenegro’s joining to Alliance. 


According to a member of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Ties with Compatriots Vasily Likhachev – another aspect that causes serious concern is the “rigidity of NATO members” manifested in solving various problems. “They put those goals and achieve them by any means”, – he stressed. In this situation it is necessary to seek a decision on the accession of Montenegro into NATO only through an all-people’s referendum. 


However, the possibility of its organization still remains a big question. Thus, according to the historian and journalist Elena Ponomareva, the decision on the accession of Montenegro into NATO is likely to be taken by the Assembly (Parliament) of the country, but not the people during a referendum. According to the constitution it is Parliament, not the citizens during the national-wide vote decides on the country’s accession to the military and economic blocs. Ponomareva considers that the best solution for Montenegro will be the option of maintaining the concept of military neutrality. “It is due to the unique geopolitical position of Montenegro, which may be an important link between the West, the Russian Federation and members of the Eurasian Union”, – believes the expert.


Authorities Ignore Peoples Mind


During the September’s vote in the Assembly of Montenegro – majority of parliamentarians supported the policy of NATO joining. But about third part of deputies spoke out strongly against. According to one of the leaders of the Democratic Front Andrija Mandic, it cannot be ignored. “Montenegrin PM Milo Djukanovic and NATO officials want to drag the country into Alliance by deception, without taking into account the will of people. At the same time citizens of the country actively support the holding of a referendum, they wonder what percentage of fellow wants to join the bloc”, – stressed the politician during the “round table”. 


According to him, holding a referendum is the only legitimate way to solve the country’s future. “The government of Montenegro is literally wants to “drag” the decision to join NATO by the Assembly, but they won’t succeed, people once again will take to the streets, the opposition will work towards this”, – stated Mandic.


In the meantime, he said, the country is on the verge of social explosion. However, although the media in Montenegro is dominated by the government’s position with respect to accession to North Atlantic Alliance membership, the citizens of the republic have plenty of opportunities for an alternative, objective information on the situation in the country. In this regard, Mandic expressed gratitude to the State Duma for making recourse to the European parliamentarians with an appeal not to involve Montenegro in NATO. 


According to the Montenegrins, the most viable option for the Republic is the preservation of neutrality. This, in particular, points out the chairman of the Democratic People’s Party, Member of the Assembly Milan Knezevic. “Russia jointly with NATO should ensure this neutrality” – believes the politician.


Whatever the result of today’s meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Montenegrin people have a chance which was used by the majority of candidates for membership in the Alliance and express an opinion on such an important issue, as the accession to this organization. “Without a doubt, the people of Montenegro, as a subject of power can come back to this issue and to reconsider the decision on accession to NATO, which was adopted at the session of the Assembly in September”, – said Vasily Likhachev. Russia, with the assurance of Deputies, is ready to support the Montenegrins on this issue.


Translated by Catherine Nollan