Montenegro’s NATO Opponents Slam US Ambassador

news
14 Sep 15
Montenegro’s NATO Opponents Slam US Ambassador

NATO opponents accused the US ambassador to Podgorica of interfering in the country’s internal affairs after she wrote a blog post advocating Montenegro’s membership of the military alliance.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica

The Movement for Neutrality, the most vocal anti-NATO organisation in Montenegro, reacted angrily after US ambassador Margaret Ann Uyehara’s blog post arguing that membership of the Western military alliance would help the country become more stable and prosperous was republished by local media on Sunday.

“Individuals want to make the argument that because of the past, Montenegro should not go towards membership in the alliance. But is not a coincidence that almost all the former Soviet countries in Europe have understood that joining NATO and the EU provide the strongest guarantees for their independence, security and economic development,” Uyehara wrote.

But the Movement for Neutrality said this represented interference by a foreign diplomat in the internal affairs of a state, particularly bearing in mind that the majority of people in the country do not support NATO membership.

“The process of NATO integration has nothing to do with the rule of law in Montenegro or anywhere else, it is the geopolitical interest of the country which Uyehara represents,” said the movement’s director Marko Milacic.

Montenegro’s government wants the Adriatic country to join NATO as soon possible, although the issue remains controversial among its 600,000 inhabitants, especially among members of the large Serb community, many of whom still resent NATO for its role in bombing Serbia in the late 1990s.

Pro-Serbian opposition party NOVA said that NATO’s promoters had decided to use “extreme measures”.

“We expected to deal with all sorts of machinations from the government, but we note that everything is happening under the umbrella of some Western embassies,” the party said in a statement.

The government has been pushing to join the alliance ever since Montenegro restored its independence in 2006. It was given a NATO Membership Action Plan in 2009, which is regarded as a final step before joining the alliance.

The Montenegrin authorities are pinning their hopes on formally receiving an invitation to join by the end of the year.

A recent poll suggested Montenegrins are almost equally divided between supporters and opponents of NATO integration, with 36.3 per cent saying they were in favour, 37.3 per cent against and 26.1 per cent unsure.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)