Does this matter?
A number of political and public figures of Montenegro signed a declaration against integration of the country into NATO. They are Metropolitan Amfilohie, Bishop Ioanichie and professor Nikola Kusovac and others. The document strongly criticizes Milo Djukanovic’s decision to join NATO.[a]
Probably not. It can’t be a surprise that at least some “political and public figures of Montenegro” are not in favor of joining NATO. Is there any major U.S. policy that isn’t strongly resisted by at least some political and public figures here? Ah, the course of true NATO membership never did run smooth. Moreover, Russian sources (like this one) tend to skew anti-NATO, so whatever value this news item should be discounted.
More important, perhaps, is the continued silence about Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s comments on joining NATO is mid-2017[b]. Maybe Djukanovic is trying to calm down the Russians, though I’m not sure this would do the trick. Maybe Djukanovic is trying to give his domestic opponents the sense that there is more time on the shot clock than there actually is. Or maybe Djukanovic just foresees Montenegro joining NATO in mid-2017.
@Counterintelligence is quite right to put out that there has been a recent history of completing the process of joining NATO in less than a year. Sure, the sample size is small, but I take it that what’s salient here is the fact that it can be done in less than 13 months. Montenegro is a tiny, itty-bitty speck of a nation-state. (The population of Montenegro is roughly equal to the population of Memphis, TN.) Off-hand, that suggests that questions of military and political integration might be far easier to resolve than in the case of larger nation-states like Albania (whose population is roughly equal to that of Chicago, IL – so, still pretty tiny).
Corruption levels are crazy high in Montenegro[c][d]. But not as high as in Albania[e], and Croatia’s not that much better[f], if we want to focus on a couple of recent NATO joiners. Come to think of it, corruption levels in Montenegro are about the same as those in Italy[g]! So I don’t see any special reason that corruption is likely to gum up the works.
And what’s all this about Russia then[h]? I suspect – without the slightest bit of actual evidence, mind you – that Russia is pressing NATO leadership for some quid pro quo. Russia can’t, of course, veto Montenegro membership, but it can create a lot of headaches that NATO leadership doesn’t want to deal with. Negotiations with Putin et al. might slow down Montenegro’s membership, but we’re unlikely to be privy to any of that (unless we’re fluent in neo-kremlinology[i], and I’m not).
So I’m sitting tight for now and waiting to see what comes next: 0.25 probability.