DPS leader Milo Djukanovic said in an interview with the Austrian national television ORF That Montenegro’s entry into NATO and the admissions procedures in the European Union are steps to be done with fairness and prudence, accompanying these important changes by introducing new reforms. With respect to NATO, he said he was happy that there could be place in the world for the promotion of European values; In the matter of European Union, he believes that EU membership can contribute to and strengthen stability in the Balkans. He also said that the European Union supports the governments in the Balkans that are in favor of the EU itself. This can give legitimacy to these governments and avoid the emergence of centrifugal forces.
Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković attended the ceremony of the Atlantic Council on Monday evening. He said that entry into NATO is a historic moment for Montenegro and that this goes to reiterate the ties of alliance and friendship that exist between his country and the United States. He stressed that Montenegro is ready to take on all the responsibilities that this international commitment entails and will ensure that this goes not only for the benefit of political or economic alliances, but also for the benefit of the citizens themselves. Vice President of the United States Mike Pence particularly welcomed Prime Minister Marković and his Country: He also reiterated the principle on which the alliance is based, namely that a single country attack is considered as an attack on everyone else as well. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright welcomed Montenegro as well.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Srdjan Darmanovic was surprised by the strong involvement of Russia in Montenegro’s internal affairs. It refers in particular to the support that, in his opinion, Russian intelligence has given to anti-NATO oppositions within Montenegro. He stressed that Montenegro’s involvement within NATO is not an aggressive assault against any country, including Russia: in fact, as he added, Podgorica keeps having strong commercial relations with Moscow and also economically under different profiles, such as the tourist one. He stressed that the Balkan area is heading towards NATO, with particular reference to Albania, and towards the European Union.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Coalition Forces to counter Islamic State (ISIS), Brett McGurk, of supporting Kurdish forces in Syria, and called for the removal of McGurk from his position. “Brett McGurk, the USA’s special envoy in the fight against Daesh [Islamic State], is definitely and clearly giving support to the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] and YPG [People’s Protection Units]. It would be beneficial if this person is changed,” Cavusoglu told NTV television on Thursday (May 18). Turkey sees the YPG and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as “terrorist organizations” as it says they have ties with the PKK, which is designated as a terror group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU. The comments by the Turkish foreign minister came after McGurk, along with officials from the State Department, paid a visit to Syrian Kurdish controlled areas on Tuesday (May 16) in order to meet Kurdish officials there. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he told U.S. President Donald Trump that Turkey would not hesitate to attack if it faced any sort of attacks from the YPG, according to Turkish media. “We clearly told them this: if there is any sort of attack from the YPG and PYD against Turkey, we will implement the rules of engagement without asking anyone”, Erdogan said being cited by Sabah newspaper. In the battle to free Raqqa from ISIS, the U.S. has actively supported the YPG-led SDF, but was initially wary of allying directly to the YPG due to concerns from NATO ally Turkey. U.S. ties with the Syrian Kurds have grown deeper despite the concerns of NATO ally Turkey, which views the YPG as a terrorist group because of its links to the PKK.
The Croatian ambassador in Podgorica, Veselko Grubisic, said that through the entry into NATO, Montenegro has met many democratic criteria that will be useful for joining the European Union. He also said that relations between Croatia and Montenegro are good and are very optimistic about their development. He also hopes that Montenegro will be able to join the European Union within the deadlines set.
On May 9th, the Trump administration made public its plan to provide the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with substantial heavy weaponry. The announcement signals Washington’s decision to rely on the SDF, which is dominated by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), for the operation to liberate Raqqa from Islamic State (ISIS) control. Ankara’s reaction to this decision, as it was to the Obama administration’s similar conclusion, will be vociferous. Turkey views, with a good deal of justification, the PYD as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) affiliate in Syria. The PKK has been fighting the Turkish state for most of last 33 years. Your humble columnist dearly wishes he could be a fly on the wall listening to the upcoming meeting between Trump and Erdogan on May 16th. Mr. Trump nonetheless made the only right, and only real, choice for an administration that promised to defeat ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. Going with Turkey for the Raqqa operation would have been a terrible choice. The Turks were never willing to send much of their army to Raqqa, their Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies are not as good or proven fighters as the Kurds, the Turkish-aligned FSA are less numerous than the SDF/PYD, and in many cases they seem about as Islamist as ISIS. Turkish forces and their proxies would also have been fighting the Kurds all along the way to Raqqa. Naturally some policy elites in Washington appear intent on second guessing Mr. Trump’s decision on the matter. James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq, argues in an April 10 Foreign Policy Magazine piece that the U.S. should have gone with Turkey on the Raqqa operation. Although this columnist has not seen any evidence for Mr. Jeffrey’s contention that local tribes want a Turkish role in the liberation of Raqqa, the rest of his argument deserves some scrutiny. Jeffrey argues that by focusing on the short-term tactical goal of destroying ISIS, the Americans are forgetting the more important strategic contest (which he likes to a “great game” of chess) going on in the area: Efforts by Turkey, Israel and other Arab Sunni states to push back against Iranian and Russian attempts to overthrow the regional order in the Levant. Jeffrey’s then goes on to draw a misleadingly simple tradeoff, where Washington can either 1) Fight ISIS without Turkey and let Iran and Russia win the larger game; or 2) Join Turkey against the Iranian-Russian attempt at hegemony in the Levant. Mr. Jeffrey, like many American and Turkish policy makers, appears unable to see more than a two-dimensional game of chess. He works hard to argue that Turkey is an American ally while the PKK (and its Syrian PYD sister) are proxies of Iran, Assad and Russia. Things are a lot more complicated than that. Sometimes the PKK and these actors cooperate, while at other times they fight each other. To understand what the Iranians’ and Russians’ three-dimensional chess game looks like, in contrast, one need only ask how Iran, which Jeffrey himself acknowledges to be much less economically and militarily powerful than Turkey, enjoys so much leverage and influence outside its borders? Russia as well, with an economy the size of Australia’s, seems to punch in a foreign influence weight class far beyond its real size and power. The answer has to do with both Iran and Russia’s complex policies of supporting and working with various actors internationally, adroitly applying patronage and cooperation to maximum effect. Iraqis, for instance, know very well how Iran supports myriad groups in that country including various Shiite parties competing with one another, some Kurdish political parties and even Sunni Arab parties. When Iran thus wants to get something done in Iraq, it has a lot of often mutually hostile groups it can turn to. If something occurs in Iraq that Iran opposes (such as the 2012 no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Maliki), it can use its influence to overthrow the whole process. If the Americans, either by shrewd design or by accident, are to play a similarly high level of three-dimensional strategic chess in the Levant, they might well start with more support for the PYD at the same time that they remain NATO allies with Turkey. This seems especially wise given Turkey’s own ties with Jihadi groups in Syria and elsewhere (Jeffrey conveniently ignores the question of replacing ISIS with Jabhat al Nusra or Ahrar al Shams, which would hardly offer much of an improvement from the American point of view). In such a game, why couldn’t the U.S. support the PYD against ISIS and simultaneously oppose Iran? A simple rhetorical flourish might even do the trick: While leaders in Washington have repeatedly stated that American weapons given to the SDF/PYD must not end up in PKK hands or be used against Turkey, they never said anything about such weapons finding their way to the PKK’s Iranian branch, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK). PJAK, of course, has been fighting a guerrilla war against the government in Tehran since 2004. This way, Ankara gets to keep supporting Hamas, Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria) and other American friends, while Washington can pursue its own Kurdish friendships outside of Turkey, and both can still pretend to be the best of friends at NATO summits — just like Turkey and Iran pretend to be friends at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
US deputy assistant secretary of state Hoyt Brian Yee said that MP who boycott Parliament shirk his responsibility. At the 2BS Forum in Budva on Friday he said that Montenegro’s membership in NATO is one of the most important changes in the international scenario and – he added – USA will follow this country in every part of the integration process. But, he also said that Montenegro’s accession to NATO reveals the russian efforts to undermine the Balkan path in Europe and the russian support to some kind of movement in Bosnia to isolate Kosovo. He also added that Montenegro’s governement has to fight against corruption.
Montenegro Prime Minister Duško Marković said during a meeting that Euro-Atlantic area is facing new threats and according to him the best way to deal with these new challenges is to join the security framework provided by NATO. He also said that Montenegro membership in NATO will give a new kind of balance not only for the country itself, but also for the entire Balkan area. Furthermore, speaking about the European integration of Montenegro, he added that the country will be able to satisfied the remaining criteria for membership in the next five years, improving through that European enthusiasm, stabilisation and cooperation with the Balkan area.
Belgrade will address the UN because of a statement made by the former head of the OSCE verification mission in Kosovo. This comes after reports that William Walker spoke about his work on a project of creating the Greater Albania. Walker is known for heading the OSCE “verification mission” in the Kosovo, whose activities and reports during 1998 and 1999 influenced the public opinion abroad in favor of launching a war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Earlier that year the bodies of 45 Albanians were discovered in the village of Racak and the Walker-led OSCE mission accused Serbian security forces for killing them without presenting any evidence – although it was never determined whether the victims were in fact civilians. Reports coming from the Serbian side said that Albanian terrorists – members of the KLA – were the ones killed in Racak, but in the West, the event was qualified as a crime against civilians, used as an excuse to launch NATO’s bombing of Serbia. According to the Minister without portfolio, Jadranka Jankovic, who is in charge of EU integration, Walker’s statement is proof that the Greater Albania project is not merely flirted with at election time, but is instead “something that exists and is not only Serbia’s problem. It includes the territory of several countries in the Balkans, and I think all of us need to be concerned”.
President Donald Trump said Thursday his first foreign trip later this month will include visits to the Vatican, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, stops that his top aides hope will both combat views of the President abroad and build toward Middle East peace. The stops will come before Trump attends a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 meeting in Italy on May 26. “Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam, and it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence, and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries”, Trump said Thursday in announcing his trip.