The Prime Minister of Montenegro Dusko Markovic will hand over Monday to the US government the instrument of accession of his small country of 620,000 inhabitants to the Alliance, in a midday ceremony at the US State Department.
The Atlantic Alliance is once again integrating a country of the former Soviet bloc, much to the dismay of Moscow which regards this accession as a “provocation”.
With this integration, NATO now controls all the northern coast of the Mediterranean, from the Strait of Gibraltar to Syria.
But this new extension comes at a time of concern in Europe over the commitment of US President Donald Trump to the alliance, which he described as a “obsolete” during his campaign.
According to Politico, which cites several sources in the administration, Mr. Trump decided at the last moment not to affirm his support for article 5 of the Alliance, which stipulates that an attack against an ally is an attack against all.
The decision took the president’s national security team by surprise, persuaded until the last minute that the speech contained a contrary reference which was supported by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Councilor National Security Committee HR McMaster.
More anecdotally, the Prime Minister of Montenegro himself seemed to have paid the price in Brussels for the tension between Mr Trump and his NATO partners.
On video, Mr. Markovic was ruthlessly pushed aside by a Donald Trump seeking to place himself in the front row of the Alliance’s leaders.
In Washington on Monday, Markovic will hand over his country’s instrument of accession to US State Department No. 4, Thomas Shannon, in the presence of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
In 2015, the announcement of the accession of the small country predominantly Slavic and Orthodox had led to violent demonstrations, organized by the pro-Russian opposition.
Like the negotiations with the European Union, this rapprochement to the West was initiated by former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, ruler of Montenegro from 1991 to the end of 2016, when he handed over to Dusko Markovic.
The Montenegrin authorities claimed to have foiled a coup a few hours before the October 16, 2016 legislative elections, accusing plotters backed by “Russian state organs” of planning to enter parliament to proclaim victory of a coalition of the pro-Russian opposition.
The White House said it had obtained credible information that Moscow had supported the coup.
Moscow ruled in April that Montenegro’s accession to the Atlantic Alliance “reflects the logic of confrontation on the European continent, the establishment of new lines of demarcation.”
Russia has sanctioned Montenegro by blocking the import of its wines, which means a shortfall of 1.7 million euros on the 2.5 million exported to Russia.
In the Balkans, only Macedonia and Serbia have kept their distance from NATO, even if the former was formally a candidate, a process blocked since 2008.