Tuesday

19th Feb 2019

'Russian riviera' to become 29th Nato member

  • The Budva deep-water port plays host to some of Russia's wealthiest businessmen (Photo: Sarah Tzinieris)

Montenegro, the tiny Balkan state beloved by yacht-owning Russians, was, on Wednesday (2 December), invited to start accession talks with Nato.

“It is a great day for my country and for the alliance ... It is great news for the Western Balkans, for its unity and security," Igor Luksic, its foreign minister, told press.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato chief, called it “another important step in the Euro-Atlantic integration of the entire Western Balkans region,” which “makes clear that Nato keeps its door open.”

US secretary of state John Kerry added: “Countries have chosen of their own free will to want to join Nato to be part of a Europe that is whole and free and at peace. Nato is not a threat to anybody. It’s not an offensive organisation. It’s a defensive alliance.”

The accession talks are set to start in early 2016.

Stoltenberg noted that “work remains to be done” on “defence adaptation” and “domestic reform, especially rule of law.”

He also urged Podgorice to “make progress in demonstrating public support” for the step.

His remarks come amid violent protests against Montengerin PM Milo Dukanovic, who has ruled the country, on and off, since 1991, over corruption allegations.

For his part, Luksic has accused Russia of whipping up the protests as a way of halting the Nato bid.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, on Wednesday voiced Moscow’s displeasure, saying: “Moscow has always noted … that the continuing expansion of Nato and Nato’s military infrastructure to the east, of course, cannot but lead to response actions from the East, namely, the Russian side in ensuring security interests.”

Srdjan Milic, the head of Montenegro’s opposition Popular Socialist Party, added most Montengerins don’t want to go ahead.

“To extend an invitation ... represents an act of aggression against the peace, stability and security of our citizens,” he said, AFP reports.

Montenegro, which is also known as the Russian riviera, because of the popularity of its deep water port with yacht-owning Russian tycoons, began preparatory Nato talks in 2009.

Albania, Croatia, and Slovenia are already members.

Macedonia is next in line, but is being blocked by Greece over a name dispute.

Bosnia and Kosovo want to join. But Serbia, a historic Russian ally, doesn’t.

Ukraine

Stoltenberg and Kerry on Wednesday also met with Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin.

They held out an olive branch to Russia, but warned that EU and US economic sanctions are likely to stay in place.

Stoltenberg said he has decided to restart meetings of the Nato-Russia Council, suspended last year over the Ukraine conflict, for the sake of “political contact and dialogue.”

But he noted that “Russia has not withdrawn its troops or its equipment” from east Ukraine, adding “we see a real risk of a resumption of violence.”

Kerry said Russia could be “an extremely constructive and important player” on the Syria war.

But he also said: “if Moscow wants relief from sanctions … it’s there for the getting if you simply live up to the promises that have been made.”

Greek bombshell

For its part, Russia is cultivating relations with friendly governments in Cyprus and Greece to lobby on its side.

The Greek defence minister, Panos Kammenos, on Wednesday contradicted Nato and US statements, which said the Russian SU-24 shot down by Turkey had invaded Turkish airspace.

"The attack took place in Syrian airspace. This is beyond doubt," Kammenos said, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

"This is undoubtedly a military action in the territory of another state.”

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who visited Cyprus the same day, noted: “"We appreciate Nicosia’s interests and the efforts that our Cypriot friends have been taking for the sake of normalising [EU] relations."

"We regard Brussels’ freeze on relations with Russia as absolutely counter-productive.”

Nato invites Montenegro to start accession talks

A Nato that includes Montenegro would cover almost the entire coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. The extended hand to Montenegro can be expected to trigger sharp reactions from Russia.

News in Brief

  1. Visegrad countries meeting with Israel called off
  2. EU ministers call climate change 'direct and existential threat'
  3. Seven MPs leave Britain's Labour Party
  4. Czech PM: May's EU elections 'most important ever'
  5. 'History will judge us': May tells MPs on Brexit
  6. Trump warns EU on release of Islamist fighters
  7. Venezuela expels 'conspiratorial' MEPs
  8. Holocaust dispute upsets Israel's EU lobbying

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  2. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars
  3. British MPs condemn Facebook CEO's misrule
  4. EU's chance to step up on Hungary and Poland
  5. ESA pushback against new EU space agency plan
  6. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  7. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  8. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us