The political elite is for join NATO, but the majority of Montenegrins are against




On October 24, Montenegro was covered by a new wave of protests, during which about 30 thousand people reached the streets of Podgorica. By order of the authorities, police used chemical agents, resulting at least 200 people got to hospitals.


The cause of what is happening is NATO’s insistence to replenish its ranks with a small country, sandwiched between Albania and Kosovo. Why the North Atlantic Alliance needs a small, youthful in a sovereign experience Balkan state?


Political scientist Dmitry Baryshnikov explains: «NATO needs a potential ally who has access to the Adriatic Sea. To take control of the entire coast, to establish a coherent line of defense and to exclude any abnormal situations. And well… annoy Russia a little. They see in Montenegro springboard for economic and energy maneuver».


Montenegro is a home to just over 600 thousand people and financial costs of NATO’s «remake format» of the country «by itself» won’t be significant. But hereby it is possible to create another naval base, not too far from Russia, in what the alliance is certainly interested. These plans don’t speak openly, as even Montenegro’s political elite remains on its place, however after the country gained the status of a NATO member — nobody would be asked how is better to use it.


For today, in the chain of NATO Montenegro is probably the only missing link. The authorities explained that the course towards NATO membership is chosen solely for reasons of national security, as far as Montenegro is a country which «needs support». The commander of NATO forces in Europe, General Philip M. Breedlove said recently that in military terms Montenegro is ready to join the Alliance, it is up to political decision. 


The political elite is for join NATO, but the majority of Montenegrins are against, and last-mentioned, according to the polls are come up to 60%. Yet most of the population is dissatisfied with the socio-economic situation, poverty, which covered the country after Russian businessmen, who neatly pay taxes and provide jobs, began to be expelled from its borders. However, persona non grata for the government have become all Russian who settled in Montenegro, a fraternal country at all times.


Protest fervor of Montenegrins, took to the streets of Podgorica with anti-NATO banners and singing Russian songs, was a surprise to the West — such turn of events wasn’t expected. A small state suddenly became the epicenter of instability in Europe.


The Parliament of Montenegro on Sept. 17 adopted a resolution supporting NATO integration. 50 out of 79 MPs voted for it. Against were 26 people, including representatives of the Democratic Front, Demos and Socialist People’s Party. The Parliament’s approval of the course to join the Alliance was not greeted kindly by the people, protests even after the usage of force by law enforcement officials, are gaining momentum. 


Montenegrin opposition «Democratic Bloc», acting under the slogan «No to NATO! No to war!», on September 27, established a campground, blocking traffic near the government buildings. Firstly, the authorities reacted calmly but on October 14, a NATO delegation led by secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and ambassadors of 28 member countries arrived to the country. People answered with new protests, which were accompanied by appeals to Russia for help. 


On Oct. 17 police units were ordered to eliminate the campsite. This operation was not bloodless. Government quarter was surrounded by thousands of Montenegrins. They demanded the resignation of the government, calling PM Milo Djukanovic as a «murderer». During the scuffle were severely affected 6 policemen and two protesters. Were arrested two members of parliament from the «Democratic Front» opposition. 


This brings up a question: why European politicians are in no hurry to support the protesters in Podgorica, feed them with cookies, as it was, for example, in Ukraine? Why there is no international publicity of what is happening, and if the world’s media are acting like sewed up their’s mouth despite the fact that within their sight are beating peaceful protesters, defending the legitimate right of people to self-determination? Why no one of the UN or OSCE expressed «concern about what is happening?» Just a small country broke the existing stereotypes. West got used that everyone run to it, but not from. Montenegrins tend to go not where it is necessary, they say. But if the protests were anti-Russian, the events in Montenegro would be broadcasted by Western TV channels around the clock. But everything is going not «according to plan», the deviation from the script has not been counted, and the task now is not to give the events in Montenegro be widely publicized.


Russia to whom the people of Montenegro are calling for today, cannot remain indifferent, of course. Our country has repeatedly helped the fraternal people, regularly supported the local economy with large investments, high income was bringing by tourism — Russians enjoy visiting Montenegro, resting on its beaches. 


Recently, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement: «Recent events in Podgorica are regrettable. We have repeatedly stressed that Russia is interested in a stable and successfully developing Montenegro. At the same time, it is impossible not to see that despite the assertions that the Montenegrin leadership receives from western states, the inclusion of this country in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration doesn’t lead to its consolidation and prosperity. Quite the contrary — there is a political and ideological polarization of society, aggravation of social and economic problems».


NATO, however, won’t deviate from the planned so easy, the question of Montenegro’s joining the alliance remains on the agenda in Brussels headquarters, discussed in expert circles.


On the eve of a new round of protests, in Moscow Institute of the Russian Diaspora on Oct. 21, was held a round table devoted to the possible integration of Montenegro into NATO and consequences of this process for the Russian-Montenegrin relations. The dialogue was attended by political experts from Russia and Montenegro.


The moderator of the round table was the general director of the Information Agency «Inforos» Denis Tyurin. «The Government of Montenegro adopted a policy of alienation from Russia. Many Russian citizens who have real properties and business in the territory of Montenegro, are in a situation when they are fit to seek protection in international courts. Their property illegally expropriated under various pretexts, they are denied the right to enter the country. There receive threats. PM Djukanovic shamelessly, authoritatively, despising people’s opinion, without any procedures and approvals pulling the country into the alliance», — said Tyurin.


The representative of the Democratic Front, Kocha Pavlovic said during a teleconference that the opposition in Montenegro are serious, anti-government protests in Podgorica which were attended by several thousand citizens, lasts for several weeks. Pavlovic is predicting more strong protests in the country: «The government through the media is trying to intimidate protesters, but they are not going anywhere and will remain here until the end». Coordinator of International Cooperation of the Montenegrin Movement «No to War — No to NATO» Igor Damjanovic also expressed his opinion on the ongoing protests: «People come for many reasons. Most of them don’t approve the government’s actions. When the Montenegrin police attacked peaceful demonstrators, it has hit the country’s constitution and international laws.


Accession of Montenegro to NATO is the main topic of conversation today by citizens who are not indifferent to the fate of country. Our people will never forget what a great role played Russia in the fate of Montenegro, helping to fight against fascism. However, it must be recognize that today in the country conducted an open anti-Russian propaganda, it is carried out at the state level, it overflew central television channels. The authorities are under the influence of the West, as it was in Ukraine and some other countries who have experienced similar interference into internal affairs».


Igor Damjanovic said that among the inhabitants of Podgorica movement is becoming widespread.


Deputy Chairman of the Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots of Montenegro, founder of the movement «Our Home is Montenegro», Veniamin Striga stated that the campaign for NATO membership of Montenegro was ambiguously perceived by society and stressed that were used methods of the black PR. «According to opinion polls conducted 2-3 years ago, against joining the Alliance were 80% of the population, now this figure dropped to 60%. But the clan system in the parliament made it possible to push through a decision to support the course of NATO. The population took it very negatively», — said Striga.


Politicians who even indirectly talked about the benefits of cooperation with the Alliance, were directly attributed to support of the course to NATO, that was not true. In the upcoming actions of the opposition, as reported Striga, is expected to attend at least 20 thousand people. «That’s enough to block the roads in the capital, — he said, — people want to force the authorities to reckon with them. If the government doesn’t take actions, the opposition will put forward an ultimatum».


Director of the Center for International Humanitarian Law presented in the Moscow studio, political analyst Valery Mishchenko called the situation in Montenegro as ambiguous. In recent years, we are facing with the facts, when Russian businessmen in Montenegro are literally forced out of business, they were subjected to robberies and looting. And everything is tied on the mechanisms of power, on the officials. From the standpoint of international humanitarian law, it’s necessary to protect own interests. It is necessary to apply to the Montenegrin Ministry of Justice, to seek protection in the structures of the UN. There is a system of individual petitions to the Council of Europe, any citizen has the right», — reminded an expert.


The chief editor of the portal «InfoSCO» Tatiana Sinitsyna said that events in Montenegro are another blow for Russia. «Over the past quarter of a century, our country has taken to the soul and heart a dose of betrayal, which would be fatal for any nation. But Russians are strong ethnic group, they remain themselves, because they don’t know how to hate. We continue to love, to forgive, it’s the main value of our soul. It is hurts for the fraternal country. Everybody understands that the government and people couldn’t be mixed. 


Leaders of young sovereign, who visited Brussels like hocus with potion of hatred to Russia. What gets Montenegro after NATO join? Officials will receive compensation for agreeing and what people will get? Jobs like cleaning toilets at the US Marines. As Montenegrin Metropolitan Amfilohije said «NATO puts Montenegro to the anti-Russian side. But the Montenegrins to war with Russia — it’s just crazy!»


The whole history of Montenegro is imbued with the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation with Russia. And suddenly — the Montenegrin authorities dutifully join the Western sanctions against Russia when the majority of the population are against those sanctions. And now NATO’s joining. Russia, of course, will come through it, but Montenegrins probably surely face trials.


Written by Daria Shulyakova

Translated by Catherine Nollan