Montenegro in NATO

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Budva, May 9 – (Nova Agency) – According to the President of the Atlantic Treaty Association and the Italian Atlantic Committee, Prof. Fabrizio Luciolli, Montenegro’s impending accession to NATO “comes to consolidate the integration process of the whole Western Balkans in the European and Atlantic institutions. The Atlantic Treaty Association brings together 37 national Atlantic councils into a single organization acting as a trait d’union between NATO and the civil society in member and partner countries of the Atlantic Alliance. On the occasion of the “2BS – To Be Secure” forum, organized by the Atlantic Council of Montenegro in Budva, President Luciolli stated to “Nova Agency” that “Montenegro is walking the last mile before seating with full rights at NATO’s table, although it is already taking part in several operations and has been fulfilling the standards of the Alliance for some time now”. To date, Podgorica has received the invitation to join in, while its entrance will be signed in a few weeks during the NATO ministerial meeting that will be held in Brussels, as per the adhesion protocol. Thus, Montenegro will be able to participate in the Warsaw NATO Summit on July 8-9 as an observer. “The very membership – President Luciolli points out – will be gained after the ratification by the 28 members of the Alliance. This process will hopefully be finalized in a short time frame, depending on the procedures of the different national parliaments”. However, this is just a “technical” phase: “Basically, the accession is already occurred – President Luciolli highlighted – and the stability and security of the region will greatly benefit from it. Indeed, Montenegro’s membership reasserts the ‘open door’ policy of the Atlantic Alliance and is an important step forward in the direction of the full integration of the Western Balkans in the Euro-Atlantic institutions”.

President Luciolli participated himself in the “2BS – To Be Secure” forum and addressed the panel “EU and South Eastern Europe: Failure to Protect Borders”, examining the migration crisis and related security challenges. In his remarks, President Luciolli observed that the crisis was not born “today”, but it has been included in the agenda of the European and international institutions for many years. Nevertheless, no organic strategy has been outlined to prevent its outbreak. “We usually tend to react – he declared – and not to act following a vision, a coherent strategy. The problems we are facing with the migration flows were apparent in the early 2000s, when the United Nations issued a series of reports on the 22 countries of the Arab League. These studies forewarned about the demographic increase in a region where the youth rate was already very high. In particular, the reports predicted that 60 per cent of the young population would have been under 25 years old today. Moreover, 60 per cent of the youth interviewed in 2002, manifested the intention to emigrate as soon as possible”. The UN reports also provided significant economic data whereby “the European Commission acknowledged the necessity to create in the southern Mediterranean about 20 million jobs by 2010, in order to stop the migratory flow”. This would have been possible “only with a yearly growth of the GDP by 8-9 per cent in each of these countries, but the GDP of the Arab League’s 22 member states altogether was inferior to that of Spain”. As for the current situation, President Luciolli cautioned against “the risk to make the same mistakes of the past: we are able to recognize the incoming problems, but we do not succeed in elaborating an organic strategy to face them”.

Also the crisis concerning the refugees and the migratory flows “is being tackled partially, without a comprehensive view combining a long term strategy and short term actions”. President Luciolli identifies four fundamental components in the immigration issue, as “the refugee crisis is only a tiny part of a larger problem”. The first component refers to the origins of the phenomenon and calls for “addressing the root causes at local level in the region”. In the second place, there are the transit countries: “Acting immediately in the transit countries would be possible: we need to understand how these hundreds of thousands of people are able to move and then tackle the criminal organizations behind the traffic”. In this regard, “we can intervene directly and effectively with short-term actions”. However, “the European Union and our countries focus only on the third component, which appears when the refugees cross the Mediterranean or try to enter Greece. At this point, most of our strategy has already failed, and I do not think that the solution can be the deployment of 5-7 different fleets in the Mediterranean by NATO and the EU, as well as the Greek, Turkish and Italian coast guards. This can be – as President Luciolli observes – only part of the solution”. Finally, the fourth component is “the integration process in our countries, which is usually neglected. In Europe there is no common integration policy, while the policies implemented so far have certainly not been as successful as expected, looking at the banlieue in Paris or some London suburbs”.

The forum in Budva serves not only the purpose to discuss relevant security issues, but also to conduct “technical” gatherings such as the Council meeting of the Atlantic Treaty Association, which involves the presidents and general secretaries of each national Atlantic council. President Luciolli explains that “this is the true NATO, namely the civil society made up of political, diplomatic, military and academic figures, along with representatives of the media and the business community”. The national councils represent a “transmission belt” between the political world and the civil society. “In this sense – President Luciolli concluded –, the 2BS Forum organized in Budva has played a very important role throughout the past 5-6 years in informing the public opinion and raising awareness among the decision-makers in Montenegro as well as the whole region. This work has had positive effects on the regional cooperation programs both on security and socio-economic development”.