In December last year, NATO officially invited Montenegro to become the 29th member state of the most powerful military organisation of our times, if not, in fact, of all time. The country’s Prime Minister, Milo Đukanović, assured the NATO secretary-general that “you can count on us at any time.” It is always nice to hear that someone has your back. But in Montenegro’s case, it means that they have our back with an entire active-duty military force of only two thousand personnel. It is not quite clear how the tiny nation of less than 700,000 people enhances U.S. security in the slightest. In fact, one might argue that adding Montenegro to NATO actually detracts from U.S. security.
That the invitation will have flattered the already over-inflated ego of the country’s Prime Minister, Milo Đukanović, and his ruling clique, there is, of course, little doubt. Nevertheless, this was flattery to deceive, for as everybody knows, Montenegro’s voice in NATO will be like a whistle in a whirlwind.
With an ‘ideological war’ being waged in the small Balkan nation over the last several months, city streets across the country have been turned into a battlefield between the government and pro-democracy, anti-NATO demonstrators. Now it looks as though the government of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic will avoid risking a referendum on the issue.
Ironically, the Montenegrin government’s official Twitter account cited the prime minister as saying that Wednesday’s decision was a “historic day…the most important after the 2006 referendum,” (in which voters narrowly chose to secede from Montenegro’s union with Serbia).
Although Montenegro’s opposition, the Democratic Front coalition, formed in 2013, has repeatedly assailed the Đukanović clique for its corrupt, criminal, nepotistic clientelism, for its vote-rigging and for its abusively manipulative relationship with the media, none of which has shaken US support for Đukanović.
All the Balkan nations have the same tradition – they unite to face a common threat despite all the differences. The one who identifies the threat, who unites and protects the people, can surely count on their loyalty and support. Political strategists of the Milo Đukanović had no scruples in taking advantage of this virtue during the election campaigns of 2006, 2008, and 2012.
This year election wasn’t doomed to make an exception. The prime-minister and his team prepared two scenarios relying upon the police and special services as a repressive factor.
First of all, the first scenario envisaged a threat coming from the outside. It’s an open secret that nationalists still hatch a design to reconstruct “Greater Albania” with southern Montenegro in mind. Besides one shouldn’t forget about unrecognized Kosovo teeming with terrorists who have been granted a pardon by the West. Memories about the 90s full of tragedy and sorrow are still alive in memory of Montenegrins, that is why series cross-border collision were elaborated. A military conflict would have entitled the authorities to impose emergency rule and consequentially postpone the parliamentary elections sine die.
This scenario could have passed, although it had to be thoroughly prepared. However, there was a certain restriction that played a key role. Countries with border conflicts are not allowed to join NATO, so another way to raise an international scandal and start political intrigues was chosen.
It was an arrest of 20 Serbians accused of a coup attempt. They were charged with preparing acts of terrorism in Podgorica and even kidnapping of Milo Đukanović! It does’t matter that no evidence has been found to this very day. What is more, instead of looking for evidence the investigative bodies involved destroyed it. According to Milivoje Katnić, chief special prosecutor of Montenegro, “the weapons for the terrorist attacks were seized and destroyed within the territory of a foreign country”.
There is an amusing coincidence. Six of the detainees have been released despite the gravity of the charges. As many as 14 people are still under arrest, exactly the same number of people were arrested during the parliamentary elections back in 2006. The only difference is that they were Albanians then.
Some facts suggest that the “Serbian threat” was staged by Milo Đukanović himself. Provocateurs of a person called Pajo Božović recruited the “conspirators”. Đukanović personally ordered that 100 militants formed into four groups should be trained. For this very purpose Božović hired a number of provokers and built up financing via tried out scheme of “Prva Banka Crne Gore” (First Bank of Montenegro). The Bank issued the money to certain people who then paid the deceived Serbs. The records of telephone conversations of Božović (+3816540XXXX) also point to this fact. Why were Serbs chosen to fall victim of a provocation? Since the well-known referendum on Montenegro’s independence Serbs have been Milo Đukanović’s key enemy. It is primarily Serbs making a little fewer than half of Montenegro’s population who pose a real opposition to the NATO membership plan cherished by the prime-minister.
Furthermore, it was necessary to “appoint” a suitable conspiracy leader. Former commander of Serbian Gendarmerie Bratislav Dikić ideally suited for this role. On receiving a call from a former colleague, he moved on to Montenegro in order to put two and two togeteher what was going on and foil the provocation whatsoever. The phone call records (+3816414XXXX, +3826902XXXX) testify to the fact that the coup plotting and staging were Božović’s handwork, with influential persons of Montenegrin special services being involved.
The next was the corrupt media to join the battle by overblowing a scandal. Apart from it, the chief special prosecutor took active part in the crude provocation against Dikić by accusing Serbs of mounting a coup with no proof presented.
These mean steps taken by Đukanović made it possible to have the population frightened and impact the election results. The second scenario finally worked out. Innocent people were tossed into jail under trumped-up charges. They are undoubtedly being exerted pressure on in order to disclose the sort of evidence Milo Đukanović needs.
Since the EU, NATO, and Western countries accepted the election in Montenegro, it all looks like a large-scale crime against Montenegrins and people of Serbia.
Frankly, adding Montenegro to NATO is ridiculous. New York City would be a more useful NATO member. After all, according to Michael Bloomberg, the New York City Police Department “is the seventh largest army in the world.” With just under 35,000 officers, the NYPD is over seventeen times larger than the Montenegrin armed forces. In fact the NYPD budget, clocking in last year at $4.8 billion, amounts to just under half of Montenegro’s GDP. Adding New York City to NATO also has the additional benefit of not worsening tensions with Russia.
Facetiousness aside, NATO expansion is no laughing matter. It is nothing personal against Montenegro, but its addition to NATO is simply irresponsible. It will not contribute to U.S. security and will serve as another point of contention with Russia. The U.S. senate should exercise its veto power over Montenegro’s invitation into the alliance when it is introduced, and in the future should put the kibosh on any more attempts at NATO expansion that don’t contribute to U.S. security.
By Alice Donovan