On 5 June 2017 Montenegro has become the 29th NATO Member State. This Balkan country was invited in December 2015 to start accession talks to join the Alliance, and the Accession Protocol was signed by Allied foreign ministers on 19 May 2016. Then followed the long ratification process by Member States parliaments that was completed by Spain, the last country to do so, on 10 May 2017.

Montenegro is the 4th Western Balkan country that is entering the Alliance after Slovenia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009. This small country of 650 000 inhabitants has professional armed forces that are 2 000-strong and actively participated to NATO-led operation ISAF in Afghanistan from 2009. This integration in NATO structure might help Montenegro to access as well European Union since majority of NATO Member States are also EU members.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic was invited as an observer to the NATO Heads of State meeting in Brussels on 26 May 2017. He has the opportunity to hear in direct the American critics that NATO nations aren’t meeting their defense spending obligations. As his predecessors already did, Mr. Trump very clearly and loudly requested NATO members to boost their defense spending.

According to the World Bank, Montenegro’s defense spending is 1.6% of $ 3.9 billion GDP (in 2015). It means that one of the first Mr. Markovic’s missions will be to convince Montenegrin citizens to invest more in defense. Since the last opinion poll in May 2017 only showed a 55% support to NATO accession, this task might be quite tough. Looking at NATO Member States situation, 23 of them don’t meet as well the 2% of GDP target that they all agreed to in 2006.

Talking about the Czech Republic, the current finishing government approved to raise Defense spending to 1.4% of GDP by 2020. That is not yet the 2% target, but the growing trend is there. Alas, the budget plan published last week showed only a 1.18% defense share in 2018 and a 1.16% one in 2020. French President Chirac once said “a politician’s promises only bind those who believe them”. Looks like he was right!!!

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