Why die for Montenegro, Trump asks

US President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks to members of the news media while meeting with members of Congress in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 17 July 2018. [Michael Reynolds/EPA/EFE]

President Donald Trump yesterday (17 July) appeared to put in doubt the United States’ obligation to defend NATO allies.

At the end of his European tour, which included a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, a visit to the UK and the latest NATO summit in Brussels, Trump spoke to Fox News, appearing to waver on whether the US would come to the defence of all NATO allies.

He also suggested that if the US would come to the rescue of a small country, the result would be World War III.

Article 5 of the Atlantic Treaty requires all members to help defend fellow member nations that have been attacked.

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson first asked Trump, “What is the purpose of NATO right now?”

Trump talked again about how countries should be paying and said, “It’s not a new fact. This is something that people have known for a long time.”

At one point, Carlson posed this question to the President:

“Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member that’s attacked. So let’s say Montenegro, which joined last year, is attacked. Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?”

Trump agreed, saying, “I understand what you’re saying, I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you are in World War III. But that’s the way it was set up.”

In social media, Trump’s Montenegro comment was compared to the famous 4 May 1939 article title “Why die for Danzig?”. The appeasement tactics of that time encouraged Hitler to invade Poland in September 1939.

Montenegro became the 29th member of NATO in June 2017, despite Russian objections.

Russia threatens retaliation as Montenegro becomes 29th NATO member

Montenegro became the 29th member of NATO on Monday (6 June) and was praised by the United States for sticking to its path of joining the Western military alliance in spite of Russian pressure.

According to reports, Russia tried to organise a coup to derail Montenegro’s NATO accession.

Montenegro election marred by ‘coup’ accusations

Montenegro said it had arrested 20 Serbs for planning to carry out attacks after voting wrapped up in the Balkan nation’s tense parliamentary elections yesterday (16 October).

The pro-Russian opposition in Montenegro – which opposed the country’s NATO membership – rejected the accusations as propaganda and boycotted the Parliament.

The country is seen as the Western Balkans’ frontrunner for EU accession.

As Trump was speaking, a delegation of the European Parliament visited Podgorica. According to the declaration adopted, MEPs expressed satisfaction that Montenegro had opened talks on 31 of the 35 negotiation chapters and provisionally closed three of them.

The MEPs also express satisfaction that a major part of the opposition, including members of the joint EU-Montenegro parliamentary committee, returned to parliament.

Media in Podgorica quoted the head of the European Parliament delegation, MEP Petar Kouroumbashev (S&D, Bulgaria), describing Montenegro as the leader in EU accession talks and that it should not be part of any package with other EU hopefuls.

An anecdotic detail is that Trump pushed aside the Montenegrin Prime Minister Duško Marković during the 2017 NATO meeting.

At last week’s NATO summit, Trump greeted the President of Montenegro Milo Djukanović by nearly elbowing him in the face.

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