147914 3/31/2008 16:03 08PODGORICA104 Embassy Podgorica UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY VZCZCXRO9232 PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHPOD #0104/01 0911603 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 311603Z MAR 08 FM AMEMBASSY PODGORICA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0717 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE RUEHPOD/AMEMBASSY PODGORICA 0795 UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PODGORICA 000104
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MARR, SR, MW SUBJECT: MONTENEGRO'S FINAL PRE-BUCHAREST BLITZ ON NATO
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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Affirming that Montenegro is ready and capable of entering a "new phase of relations with the Alliance," PM Djukanovic called on NATO Ambassadors 3/31 to support his country's inclusion in Intensified Political Dialogue (IPD) at the upcoming Bucharest Summit. Granting IPD to Montenegro would help prevent the deepening of gaps within the region following NATO invitations to Adriatic Charter countries; would provide a positive stimulus to Serbia; and would help build stronger public support for NATO among Montenegro's population, he said. Regarding Serbia, the PM feared that that country is "determined to have a last experiment with a Radical government" and that the GOS' "satanization" of NATO would retard Serbia's integration into NATO for years to come. Most of the ten NATO countries present explicitly indicated their support for IPD, although the UK Ambassador (protect) told us he had received unclear signals from London. END SUMMARY
2. (SBU) Recently-elected PM Djukanovic emphasized to NATO Ambassadors 3/31 that his Government is firmly committed to Montenegro's integration into NATO and that he plans to intensify ("dynamize") the country's efforts vis-a-vis NATO during the 18 months left in his mandate. He called on NATO representatives to support Montenegro's inclusion in IPD at the Bucharest Summit later this week, affirming that Podgorica is "ready for the challenge of entering a new phase of relations with Alliance." He also stressed repeatedly that Montenegro "has the capacity to be a credible partner" of NATO, pointing to significant progress it had already made since joining PfP.
3. (SBU) In terms of progress to date, the PM pointed specifically to institutional defense reform; committing to at least 2 percent of GDP for defense spending; the creation of a high-level "PFP Council" and inter-Ministerial commission; and the adoption of IPP, PARP, and IPAP documents. He added that the creation of a "Council for National Security" chaired by the President, combined with an enhanced parliamentary role in adopting Defense and National Security strategies, had strengthened civilian oversight of the military. Montenegro was a party to the Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) agreement signed earlier between SAM and NATO, had initiated the process of acceding to the PfP SOFA; and was close to receiving certification from NATO regarding its protection of classified information. The GOM was committed to participating in international peacekeeping operations, including "within the PfP framework," and had already identified various resources for this purpose (e.g., a medical unit; an infantry capacity; a general-purpose helicopter, and a tugboat).
4. (SBU) The PM argued that IPD for Montenegro would be in the interest of both the Alliance and of Montenegro, as it would have important and positive consequences for regional stability. Such an invitation would minimize the risk of "deepening gaps" within the region in the event of membership invitations to the A3 countries (which the PM said he fully supported). It would also be a positive impetus to Serbia, just as Croatia's progress toward NATO had had positive repercussions in Montenegro. It would also help Montenegro make up for the "time it had lost" as a member of the state union with Serbia and would help build public support for NATO in Montenegro. The PM expressed his hope that NATO would maintain its "Open Door" policy at and beyond Bucharest and that it would continue to judge aspirants on their own merits.
5. (SBU) The PM said he was "absolutely convinced" that the Montenegrin leadership would be able to build majority public support for the country's orientation toward NATO. "We must be active, persistent, and serious" in implementing our NATO Communications Strategy, he said. The GOM is also enlisting the support of NGOs to support this campaign and suggested that NATO Embassies could also play a role. The current low levels of support (around 30 percent) derive largely from the "trauma" of the 1999 NATO intervention, a trauma that had been exploited by some opposition politicians during the ongoing Presidential election campaign. This was particularly true among the population in the North, which still looks toward Serbia, he averred.
6. (SBU) Serbia is, and always has been, the central question (and problem) of this region, the PM said. Problems that had cropped up relating to the RS, Kosovo, and Montenegro could all be traced back to Belgrade. The PM was not optimistic that that a major change in Serbian strategy would be forthcoming anytime
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soon. He expected that Belgrade's policy of blaming the international community for its woes -- rather than recognizing that Kosovo and other problems stemmed from disastrous Serbian policies -- would continue. While the international community needed to help the democratic forces in Serbia nudge that country toward Euroatlantic integration, he was pessimistic that Serbian support for NATO, at least, would be in the cards anytime soon. While the May elections in Serbia would result in a consolidation (regardless of the outcome) of pro-European forces, Belgrade's "satanization" of NATO in recent times would make it difficult for any future government to adopt a pro-NATO policy. The best antidote would be continued enlargement of the Alliance, as the inclusion of other countries in the region in NATO would lead Belgrade to conclude there is no alternative to NATO membership. He predicted that the elections in Serbia would show that Serbs are "determined to have a last experiment with a Radical government." Nonetheless, he argued against "disqualifying anyone in advance as a potential partner," pointing to the transformation of Croatia's post-Tudjman HDZ as an instructive example.
7. (SBU) COMMENT: This meeting was the last in Montenegro's pre-Bucharest blitz to press for IPD. This blitz included two meetings with NATO Ambassadors at the Prime Minister level, one at the DefMin level, a meeting by the DefMin with NATO DATTs, and the IPAP presentation in Brussels on 3/12 by the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs. The PM left no doubt that NATO will figure heavily in his government's foreign policy, and he expressed deep conviction that the GOM is capable of taking the relationship to the next level.
8. (SBU) COMMENT (CONT'D): Most of the ten NATO countries gathered around the table expressed explicit support for Montenegro's IPD, and NATO, aspirations. Interestingly, the UK Ambassador (protect) told us that he had received unclear signals from London and suggested that a USG nudge to the UK would have an impact in bringing London along.
9. (SBU) COMMENT (CONT'D): The PM appealed to NATO Ambassadors not to misinterpret the fact that President Vujanovic will not be in Bucharest. With Presidential elections scheduled for April 6 and the sole pre-election television debate conflicting with the Bucharest schedule, the President had to revise his earlier plans to travel to be at the Summit, he said. MOORE