Press Release
April, 24 1999

Will NATO defend Montenegro?

Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania, all have received security guarantees from NATO in return to providing their territory and/or airspace for NATO operations. Montenegro is likely to become the next addition. Is NATO committing itself to defend most of the Balkan nations no matter whether they are members of the Alliance or not?

„We will not tolerate threats by the Belgrade regime to the security of its neighbours. We will respond to such challenges by Belgrade to its neighbours resulting from the presence of NATO forces or their activities on their territory during the crisis. We reaffirm our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries in the region. We reaffirm our strong support for the democratically elected government of Montenegro. Any move by Belgrade to undermine the government of President Djukanovic will have grave consequences.“, said the NATO statement on Kosovo, issued yesterday at the Alliance’s Summit in Washington.

NATO’s security guarantees are seen as being at the core of the advantages of becoming an Alliance member and as the main reason, why NATO enjoys substantial interest in membership from most of the Central-Eastern and South-Eastern European countries.

„NATO makes no clear-cut distinction between the security guarantees given to Serbia’s neighbors and those issued to the Alliances’ members“, says Otfried Nassauer, Director of the Berlin Information-center for Transatlantic Security. „The Alliance might have to live up to those guarantees to non-members. In these days this has a higher probability than NATO having to defend one of its members“.

„Parliaments in Europe as well as the US-Congress will be very concerned about these „de-facto guarantees“, says Karel Koster, a Dutch security analyst working with the Project on European Nuclear Nonproliferation. „They did not agree to any NATO enlargement through the backdoor.“

Indeed, even at the highest levels within NATO there seems to be at least some confusion about whether their is any exact difference between the guarantees given to member states and those issued to Belgrade’s neighbors. Javier Solana, the NATO Secretary General said recently: „...of course the security guarantee will be exactly the same as the guarantee that the NATO countries do have but the difference will be very slight. Any problem that those countries may have stemming from the presence of NATO troops on the ground will be taken with the utmost concern by the Alliance and therefore the response will be very strong and very rapid but of course, they are not members of NATO and article 5 would not apply to them but very close to that.“ (Transcript, Solana Briefing Following the NAC-Meeting April 12, 1999)

For further information please contact Otfried Nassauer  or
Karel Koster on (202) 785 1266