Montenegro on the path to Nato membership
Nato officially invited Montenegro to join the organisation on Wednesday. Expanding the military alliance at this point in time is a provocation for Moscow, some commentators criticise. Others see the move as an important step towards stabilising the Balkans.
US adding fuel to the fire
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Moscow last week described potential Nato membership for Montenegro as "another blow" to Nato-Russia relations. The step is indeed a provocation, the Catholic daily Avvenire agrees: "Can anyone perhaps explain the reasons for the US's inordinate tactical recklessness, political superficiality and stubborn superpower posturing? … To initiate membership proceedings for a Balkan state at this particular moment in time is to challenge Russia to launch an immediate and harsh counter-reaction. … Even if certain rules have been suspended in the asymmetrical game of risk in which Russia, Turkey, the US and Nato are involved in the seething arena of the IS militant organisation, the question remains: why add fuel to the fire now? Why overstep the borders with a gesture that to all appearances is a provocation vis-à-vis a partner, Putin, who is vital for resolving the conflict in the Middle East?"
Accession crucial for West Balkans
Nato's accession invitation to Montenegro is an important step in stabilising the West Balkans, the liberal daily Jutarnji list believes: "Albania and Croatia are already in Nato. Nato troops are stationed in Kosovo, and Serbia is a member of the Partnership for Peace. After almost twenty years of Nato activity in the region - involving peace missions but also military interventions such as airstrikes on the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - Montenegro's accession shows that the best alternative to a Nato presence in the region is simply having these nations join the alliance. This time too, Russia is calling Nato's invitation a provocation. ... But Montenegro lies far away from Russia, so the stationing of Nato ships or even missile systems there could hardly be assessed as a threat to Russia."
Nato's signals not really contradictory
Nato wants to include Montenegro despite protests from Russia, while at the same time reactivating the Nato-Russia Council, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has announced. These signals in fact fit in with each other, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk writes: "Nato cannot allow third parties, even important third parties like the Russian president, to dictate whom it should invite to join the alliance. … International law recognised the right of each state to choose which alliances it wants to belong to. … The message [to the Kremlin] is: we want more contact so that military misunderstandings can't escalate into catastrophic chain reactions. And also because we need you as a strategic partner on the international stage. The efforts to revive the Nato-Russia Council could help achieve this. Neverthless despite an overwhelming desire for cooperation we won't allow the Kremlin to dictate our agenda, even regarding Syria."