Open Letter to U.S. Senators: Four Reasons Why Not To Approve NATO Protocol with Montenegro by Filip Kovacevic, PhD
On May 19, 2016, 28 NATO foreign ministers, including the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, signed the accession protocol with Montenegro in Brussels. In order for Montenegro to be admitted, all NATO member states must ratify the protocol. Since this is a treaty document, the U.S. Senate has to approve it by a two-thirds vote.
Here are four reasons why the green light should not be given.
1. Montenegro is not a democracy. Since 1989 and the end of Communism in East-Central Europe, Montenegro has been ruled by one political party – Democratic Party of Socialists – and its leader Milo Djukanovic. Djukanovic has used the state power and resources to enrich himself and his loyalists. He frequently sports watches worth more than his annual salary. Furthermore, the parliamentary and presidential elections have been rigged and the political opponents harassed and discriminated against. There have been several high-level political murders which have never been solved.
2. The majority of Montenegrin citizens are against NATO membership. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the devastation wrought by NATO bombs in 1999 and the violations of international law which preceded it to the historical and religious ties with Russia. The Montenegrin government disputes this fact, claiming that it does have a clear majority support, but at the same time is unwilling to organize a national referendum. If the government leadership is so certain, why doesn’t it let the people have the final say? This would be democratic, would it not? But, alas, Montenegro is not a democracy.
3. NATO membership will destabilize Montenegro internally. It is already apparent that the Montenegrin political scene is split into two antagonistic camps. The opponents of NATO will not take lightly the effort to push Montenegro into NATO without a national referendum. The country is on the brink of conflict and it may take very little to spark violence with tragic consequences. Recall what happened in Ukraine when it was forced to choose the sides. Montenegro is no different.
4.Montenegro’s NATO membership will be costly for the U.S. both financially and strategically. In terms of the medium- and long-term strategy, the U.S. may lose more than it gains by taking Montenegro into NATO. First, it will make necessary the raising of the U.S. military budget and the percentage the U.S. has to contribute to the common NATO budget. Secondly, it will upset the traditional balance of power in the Balkans as the U.S-Russia will deteriorate even further. Why provoke Russia when it could be a U.S. partner on many global issues, especially the serious threats of terrorism and extremism all across the Middle East and Eurasia? Why re-create the conditions in the Balkans which led to the outbreak of the World War I?
Filip Kovacevic, PhD, is the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro and university professor. He currently teaches at the University of San Francisco.