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Accession to NATO and the benefits for Montenegro - autorial text of Minister of Finance Igor Lukšić in magazine "Security"

Published date: 03.11.2008 11:13 | Author: Intervjui

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Apart from the political and security benefits, accession to the most powerful political-military alliance would also bring numerous economic benefits to Montenegro. That is one of the reasons why Montenegro identified the accession to NATO as the fundamental foreign policy and security priority.

It is well known that NATO promotes the basic values that from the foundation of modern societies, such as democracy, personal liberties and market economy, values that Montenegro is also striving for. Accession to the Alliance implies that a country has conducted reforms and achieved standards that reach way beyond the realm of military and defence.
Stable and secure Montenegro, within NATO, represents a favourable environment for the development of commercial activities and influx of foreign investments, as well as for obtaining the assistance from partner countries for conducting a cheaper and faster reform of the defence system.
We assessed that the accession to NATO would bring real benefits to Montenegro and provide for its faster economic development. Experience from most of the ten new member countries from central and eastern Europe that became full NATO members in 1999 and 2003, point to the benefits they enjoyed after becoming members of the Alliance, that is, to the importance of security and democratisation of society in the economic development. In all these countries, expect sound structural foundations, a strong increase in GDP countries also experienced a significant increase in direct foreign investment, especially Poland and Czech Republic, where investments were doubled compared to the year prior to the accession and they primarily referred to the establishment of new companies. Also, a similar experience was that of Hungary, where there was a boom of the so called Greenfield investments.

The experience of these countries clearly shows that, through the concept of collective security, within NATO, Montenegro would become a safer and more secure market for foreign investments, having in mind that membership in this alliance implies an image of a stable and promising country, devoid of any risks when it comes to investments.
Also, when it comes to the defence system reform and the cost of reaching the necessary level of security, for a small country, such as Montenegro, it is cheaper to enter NATO that stay out of it.

Why would it be so much cheaper for Montenegro to access NATO, that is, why would not accessing cost much more?
In the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Presentation Document, the Government of Montenegro stated its intention to set the percentage of resources intended for defence at 2% of the GDP, which should make it possible for Montenegro to continue conducting reforms and provide for an unimpaired functioning of its defence system without harming the citizens standard of living or the economic development of the country.

In the context of limited budget resources, staying outside of the system of collective security would be far more expensive, because Montenegro would be forced to develop very expensive capacities and defence system, such as air force, air defence, strengthening the navy and so on. Montenegro would have to be the only one to guarantee its own security and conduct very limited reforms of its defence system, which would be overall inferior to those of the surrounding countries.
Entering the system of collective security implies the professionalization and optimization of the Armed Forces of Montenegro, lower costs, since there is no need to invest into expensive weaponry and capacities, which makes the defence system cheaper and interoperable with NATO member countries. In the future, Montenegro would be completely surrounded by NATO countries.
Albania and Croatia have been invited into full membership in NATO, Bosnia and Herzegovina is in PfP, completely oriented towards the full membership, which is, I guess, also the orientation of Serbia, having in mind current political circumstances.

Participation in the PfP program and the accession to NATO will not require Montenegro to assign more than 2% of the GDP for defence, insomuch that with these resources it will conduct the reform of the defence system and establish its security. Montenegro would have the obligation to use these resources for financing international military cooperation, which mainly, refers to the military-diplomatic missions, international missions in support of peace, within Montenegros capabilities, at the condition that the appropriate decision on such an engagement is made by the Parliament of Montenegro, as well as that pays the memberships fee the amount of which would be set according to the already established formula for distribution of costs based on the value of GDP and the ability of such a small country as Montenegro to pay it. Also, Montenegro would gain much more in terms of the help received in the defence system reform, surplus weapons disposal, air space protection, etc. This means that within NATO, with the same percentage of GDP allocated to the defence sector, Montenegro, as a country participating in PfP, would be able to conduct its defence system reforms at a much faster pace and with a wider scope than outside the Alliance.

Neutrality is costly. More than $ 1 billion was spent all over the world in 2007 for military purposes, out of which sum 90% were spent by the ten most powerful nations of the world. Neutral countries also spend large amounts on defence. For example, for those purposes Sweden spent $5.5 billion in 2007, Finland spent $2.8 billion, Switzerland $2.5 billion and Austria spent $2.3 billion. In terms of the amount of defence spending, these countries are between the 25th and 40th pleace in the world, while the new NATO member countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Latvia) are behind these neutral countries in terms of defence spending. Other neutral countries also had high defence related costs in 2007 (Ireland - $700 million, Cyprus $384 million and Malta $44 million).
Of course, it is in the best interest of Montenegro to restructure its defence forces so that they are able to accomplish the goals of Partnership. This implies reaching a full consensus within Montenegro on such issues as the type and size of security forces we need, so as to avoid redundancy within our defence capacities and irrational use of resources.

Igor Lukšić, Minister of Finance