Will Montenegro become a NATO member in 2016? (update)

Yet more of what we already know from NATO: “Later this month, NATO Foreign Ministers are due to sign Montenegro’s Accession Protocol. Montenegro will then become an ‘invitee’ and will be able to attend almost all NATO meetings, including the Warsaw Summit, as an observer. Every NATO Ally must then ratify the Protocol in their national parliaments in order for it to become a full member”[1]. At least this confirms my understanding of the matter.

A little more interesting is this: “Montenegro has agreed a new contract with the Washington-based firm Orion Strategies to advocate for the country’s accession bid, according to a US Department of Justice filing. The firm will provide strategic communications, PR and advocacy around issues and news relating to Montenegro in the US and Europe and around the country’s bid for membership of the Western military alliance. Orion Strategies will receive $150,000 for services delivered over a 12-month period ending on February 1, 2017″[2].

A few thoughts about this latter nugget: First, I wouldn’t want to make too much of the 2017 termination date. It’s probably just a result of when the contract was signed. Second, $150K doesn’t seem like much. How much value are they going to get for that kind of money. This would get you two experienced IT guys, if you’re lucky. That’s all you’re going to spend on lobbying the US gov’t? Perhaps Montenegro’s gov’t doesn’t think much work needs to be done. Third, who the hell are these Orion guys? Though the article refers to Orion as “Washington-based,” it looks like it’s actually located in West Virginia[3]. I’ve sent them an email asking for clarification. It’s not a big deal, but why would you wire a WV firm to lobby in DC? Honestly, Orion seems a little bush league. Again, I’m not sure whether Montenegro’s gov’t thinks that this one is in the bag or whether they’ve just made some bad choices, and their accession protocol is going to receive ratification more slowly than it otherwise might have.

As of this writing, no NATO member has, to the best of my knowledge, approved the accession protocol for Montenegro.

[1] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_130581.htm – also reported on in the “New York Times,” http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/05/06/world/europe/ap-eu-montenegro-nato.html

[2] http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/montenegro-hires-us-lobbists-to-push-nato-case-05-05-2016#sthash.Y9gI9Hox.dpuf

[3] http://www.orion-strategies.com/pages/about.html

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