Donald Trump has just approved Montenegro as NATO’s newest member state. The move is contentious as Montenegro was bombed in the illegal 1999 NATO war of aggression against Yugoslavia of which it was then a part.
Montenegro peacefully split from Serbia in 2006 to become a small independent state.
While the Montenegrin government has supported moves to join the US led alliance, socialist and pro-Serbia opposition parties have been dramatically opposed to such moves. The moves also roused public opinion during a series of anti-NATO protests in the small west Balkan state.
Serbia now finds itself totally encircled by NATO countries, except for its comparatively small southern border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where NATO powers are also making moves to radicalise and militarise the mostly Sunni Albanian minority in a majority Orthodox Christian nation.
The issue of Montenegro membership became a point of contention in the US Senate when Join McCain famously said that Rand Paul was ‘working for President Putin’ because Paul opposed Montenegro’s membership in NATO.
Russia does not officially take positions on which countries should or should not be in NATO, but Russia is an historic and current ally of Serbia where the move has been looked upon as a further attempt to isolate Serbia from a fraternal former Yugoslav nation. In spite of historic ties, the government of Montenegro is moving further from Serbia. Serbia was angered when in 2008, Montenegro recognised the Serbian province of Kosovo as a state.
Donald Trump who campaigned as someone sceptical of NATO has seemingly changed his tune on yet another foreign policy matter. The White House released a statement saying
“President Trump congratulates the Montenegrin people for their resilience and their demonstrated commitment to NATO’s democratic values”.