06 Mar 15
Montenegro Shrugs off French Veto on NATO Enlargement
Prime Minister remains optimistic that Montenegro will receive an invitation to join NATO by the end of 2015 despite French President’s stated opposition to enlargement.
Prime Minister Minister Milo Djukanovic on Wednesday said Montenegro expects an invitation to join NATO by the end of the year and is working hard to meet the conditions.
Commenting on the French President’s statement of opposition to NATO enlargement, Djukanovic said he did not see in Francois Hollande’s words any intention to revise NATO’s policy towards Montenegro.
Hollande said after a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Paris on Monday that “France’s position for the moment is to refuse any new membership.”
“The statement was likely influenced by current efforts to resolve the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and by concerns about antagonizing Russia, which has been critical of NATO expansion plans,” Djukanovic said.
Pro-Serbian parties and anti-NATO organizations welcomed Hollande’s statement, saying it removed from discussion an issue on which citizens of Montenegro do not agree.
The majority of ethnic Serbs in Montenegro, who make up almost 29 per cent of the country’s population of 650,000, oppose the government’s aspirations to join NATO, partly because NATO bombed Serbia in 1999.
Podgorica has pushed to join the alliance since it split from a loose “state union” with Serbia in 2006. It obtained a Membership Action Plan in 2009, which is regarded as a step towards joining.
However, Montenegro’s bid to join the NATO received a setback last September at the summit in Wales when NATO members decided against inviting the country to join, saying they would reconsider Montenegro’s case in 2015.
Public support in Montenegro for NATO membership remains low, according to opinion polls. The government claims 46 per cent of Montenegrins support membership, but opposition parties and NGOs believe that figure is much lower, around 35 per cent.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)