comment 08 Aug 17

Pence’s Montenegro Visit ‘Timely and Important’

Vice-President Pence’s visit to Montenegro not only underlined US support for NATO and regional democracy, it also highlighted concerns over Russia’s growing influence in the Balkans.

Vesko Garcevic
BIRN
Podgorica
 
US Vice President Mike Pence and Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic at a welcome ceremony in Podgorica on August 1. Photo: Beta/AP Photo/Risto Bozovic.

For the second time in the recent past, Montenegro has been in the limelight. After a scene at a NATO Summit in Brussels in May when US President Donald Trump shoved Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic in order to take his place in the front row during a photo opportunity, US Vice-President Mike Pence paid a historic visit on August 2 to the newest member of the Western military alliance.

A visit by the highest ranking American official ever to come to Montenegro has again propelled the tiny state into the high orbit of global policy. It may be just a consequence of geo-political circumstances or a result of thought-through, Montenegrin policy. I would say a little bit of both.

The current vice-president’s trip to Europe had more to do with Russia, its growing influence in Europe and the validation of America’s new/old approach toward traditional European allies.

Described as a testing ground for the current administration’s policy toward Russia, it was set to prove America’s unwavering and solid support to a group of new allies, like Montenegro, and those nations living on European “fault lines”. From that perspective, the visit to Montenegro has more than a local or regional dimension.

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