Thursday, August 2, 2018

"Aggressive" Montenegro: A Comment

Siobhán O'Grady, "After being called ‘aggressive’ by Trump, Montenegro insists it’s a friend to America," Washington Post (July 20)

Image from

My main point below: Montegrenins are of course part of "Europe" and "pro-American," but Russian interests in their country have a long history. 

(from an edited Facebook entry)

As someone who had the privilege to serve in the Balkans in the mid-90s as a US diplomat (of course, at a tragic time for that often suffering/tormented part of Europe), I had the opportunity to travel to Montenegro on quite frequent occasions to share plans/ideas on cultural/informational exchange programs ["public diplomacy"] with the Montenegrin director of the US cultural center in the capital, Podgorica (a dedicated, cultivated, energetic lady of tact and elegance).

Thanks to her contacts, it was a pleasure (in USG interests) to meet over lunch/dinner with Montenegrin decision-makers (among them intellectuals), in order to seek their views/ideas on how to expand US-Montenegrin relations.

My guests were unfailingly hospitable, impeccably polite, and wonderful conversationalists who had a self-deprecating sense of humor.

The humor was noteworthy. One joke (if my memory serves me right) that a distinguished member of our breaking-bread shared:
"Why did the opposition lose again in Montenegro? Because it offered everybody jobs."
Still, despite the unforgettable Montenegrin hospitality to an American diplomat that I experienced with such pleasure and gratitude decades ago, one must remember that a quite strong official/cultural/economic Russia-Montenegro relationship existed in the past.

(Still exists now? I must confess I've not kept up with the latest information).

Could this explain the Russian government view (not officially stated: so far as I know) that Montenegrins are "our" [my quotation marks] traditional allies Slavic/Orthodox brothers & sisters with their country having an all-important coastal window (from a narrow European-landlocked Russian military/strategic interest) to the Mediterranean? 

Maybe the Russian official thinking (again, take my poor "thinking" as a speculation of Russian government official thinking):
Could this thinking, if it in fact exists, also explain why Mr. Trump, after meeting with Mr. Putin (and possibly repeating what he said), called Montenegro "aggressive"?

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