Important signal from Washington

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Strong support of State Department and Pentagon officials and all republican and democratic senators during discussions on Montenegro’s NATO membership in Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is a definite affirmation that the process of ratification is picking up and that Washington will openly encourage Montenegro to become 29th member of the Alliance. Many analysts thought so after the hearing on Wednesday.

We are inviting the Senate to make history with a cooperation with the Government and support to American ratification of Montenegro’s Accession Protocol”, said Hoyt Brian Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, during the discussion.

Former American diplomatic representative in Montenegro, one of the most important people in Washington when it comes to South Europe, he said that Podgorica took giant leaps in solving corruption and crime issues and it is close to meeting NATO criteria, thinking first and foremost of defense, intelligence and security reforms.

Michael Carpenter is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and he said that Montenegro has achieved success in transformation of its army forces, its regional relations and in international missions.

The Russian issue

Interior reforms and foreign policies of Podgorica are key reasons that Washington is sending out positive signals regarding NATO. But, these are not the only ones. During the Wednesday’s hearing, it was clear that the diplomats recognize the danger of Russia’s aggressive influence in Montenegro and possible breaks in NATO expansion to Western Balkan.

“NATO must hold strongly to its principles because no third party can block NATO expansion. It is especially important in the time when Russia is attempting to overthrow democratically chosen leaderships that wish to integrate, such as in the case of Montenegro”, said democratic senator from New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen, who was particularly interested whether Washington has a response for Moscow’s attempts “to punish Montenegro”.

State Department representative soon replied.

“The US is determined to do whatever necessary to defend the allies. First confirmation of our dedication is to protect the territory and sovereignty of Montenegro. Montenegro will have all NATO resources availabel”, Brian Lee responded.

Montenegrin membership demonstrates that the Open Door policy still holds, denying Russian influence on Western Balkan.

The timing

Three hours long discussion was the most vivid illustration of Washington’s readiness to ratify the Protocol.

“There are no more dilemmas of whether the Senate will ratify, it is only now a matter of time, whether it will happen in October, or once the presidential elections are through in December”, diplomatic source from Washington said to Pobjeda daily.

Montenegro’s Accession Protocol needs to have full Senate house in order to be passed.

Republican senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson spoke to WoA saying he does not expect any issues in this process.

“Administration fully supports this, you have seen our strong support, I hope we will ratify as soon as possible”, he said.

According to information of Pobjeda daily, business meeting of Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is scheduled for September 23rd. It is expected that they will give unanimous recommendation to Senate to ratify.

If this was not the year of presidential elections in the US, the ratification would be on the schedule in the mid October already. Still, the election campaigns are ongoing, and this is the priority of the Senate. It seems more realistic that the Accession Protocol will be ratified in December.

Recommendation

October or December? It is not the most important of questions. Strong support demonstrated during the hearing is an important signal, and never before has the Senate voted differently than it was recommended from Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

In summary, official Podgorica will soon receive yet another confirmation of its foreign policies. More than that, as soon as Washington gives the green light, the process will pick up in the countries of Western Europe that are yet to ratify the Protocol.

It is all conditioned on Montenegro’s political scene and support to NATO integration.

Source: Cafe Del Montenegro