The disadvantages far outweigh the benefits!
Should the small Balkans’ country enter the military block, Montenegro will become more dependent after transferring part of its sovereignty to the EU and NATO, and will lose the right to its own political opinion. The government will have to take the side of the new patron, whose opinion often does not reflect that of its citizens. This is especially true concerning the issue of refugees from the Middle East and Africa and the defense matters!
One of the requirements for Montenegro’s accession to NATO is to accept at least 50,000 refugees from Syria.
Montenegro’s economy, at the moment, largely depends on Russia especially in terms of foreign investment; namely, Russian businessmen are the main investors in the country’s economy. For example, the operation of a large aluminum smelter “Podgorica” is financed up to 30% by a single Russian businessman, Oleg Deripaska. However, the government hopes that NATO membership will help to attract new investors and provide (at least) some guarantees. As good as it sounds, the NATO accession poses a great risk for the country to remain empty-handed; if investments from Russia cease (as they would) and EU and NATO investment promises remain unfulfilled.
Tour operators in Montenegro have concerns about NATO membership. They fear that the integration will negatively impact tourist attractiveness of the Montenegrin resorts for Russians, and cause the profits derived from their tourism to plummet heavily.
For 7 months of 2016 Montenegro has earned 400 m. euro from tourists, of which about 40% were from Russia.
In comparison, Montenegro’s neighbor Croatia has joined NATO, and the effects on its tourism business is – negative. The flow of Russian tourists to Croatia was greatly reduced, following the move, and now the Russians are required to get visas and submit fingerprints, while earlier there existed a visa-free regime between the two countries. There’s no reason the same won’t happen to Montenegro.
The Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic pursues personal interests in joining NATO, as he was promised a seat in the European Parliament in 2018, where he will continue to lobby for the interests of his “business” and the smuggling of cigarettes into the EU.
After all, it is no secret that not a long time ago, Milo Djukanovic, with a group of trustees was involved in the organization of illegal tobacco supplies to Italy. In addition, he was accused of wide ties with Italian mafia. All this was widely publicized in the press under the title “Duvanska [Tobacco] Affair”. At that time, Milo Djukanovic managed to avoid punishment thanks to the immunity granted to him as a Head of State.
Despite the positive assessment of the Government of Montenegro concerning the economic situation, the country is hit by increasing protests by trade unions of the mining sector, caused by the failure of the [Djukanovic’s] government to meet its commitments. At the same time, the discontent of agricultural workers is growing caused by the lack of government support and high investment risks.
The Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic, in regards to NATO membership issue, neither considers nor respects the opinion of Montenegro citizens, demonstrated in his refusal to put the issue for a national referendum vote.
Nevertheless, according to the public opinion surveys in Montenegro carried out in August-September 2016, 54.3% of the population is against joining NATO and rupturing the relationships with Russia, while 57% support the idea of holding a referendum on the issue of joining NATO.
Most people still remember how NATO warplanes bombed them 17 years ago.
Author: Rakiya al-Baloot