Euro-Atlantic prospects of Balkans
Today the European Commission presents reports on the progress of candidate-countries for membership of the European Union – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. The prospects of their membership of the EU and NATO are still not clear. Sergey Panteleyev, the director of the Institute of the Russian Diaspora, says that Montenegro is recognized as an ideal candidate for NATO membership. The only real obstacle to this is social activity.
There are other countries on the NATO agenda, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia. “Montenegro, in terms of public sentiment, is much more problematic for NATO than Macedonia or Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, Macedonia has a well-known conflict with Greece, which is a member of NATO. Bosnia and Herzegovina, of course, are problematic countries from the perspective of NATO because there are significant conflicts within the community, especially the Serb community, the Muslim community, the Croat community. But the political elite of Bosnia and Herzegovina, just by joining NATO, expects to smooth over these contradictions,” the expert states.
He pays attention to the fact that there are not too many voices from Serbia. “The former Yugoslavia, which has undergone NATO bombing, today is also slightly drawn into the process of NATO integration. Serbia itself, for example, corresponds to a number of parameters for NATO, and one of the most important parameters is the need to spend no less than 2.2% of GDP on defense. So Serbia, unlike all the others, corresponds to this. In this respect, the current Serbian government does not attract public attention to this problem, knowing that if it were put to a public debate, made public, it would lead to an explosion of the protests that we are seeing, in fact, in Montenegro. So we need to understand this very well.”
According to Panteleyev, in order to avoid involvement of the countries of former Yugoslavia in NATO, Russia needs to build more social contacts, public attraction; it needs to work with the European audience, with European public opinion: “NATO does not decide the problem of refugees. NATO, by taking advantage of the acute geopolitical situation and continuing to advance on Russia and provoking Russia, is doing everything to ensure that the conflict becomes more acute, to some extent, including to humiliate Russia, since it is clear that the accession of Montenegro or Serbia would be a huge, excuse me, spit in the direction of Russia.”