Open Letter to President Obama and the U.S. Congress Urging Quick Action on Montenegro’s Entry into NATO


On May 19, 2016, Montenegro signed the Accession Protocol to join the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) as its 29th member. We believe that Montenegro is prepared to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership, and to contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area. We therefore urge the Obama administration and Congress to move forward with the ratification of this Protocol as soon as possible, ideally by the end of the year.

Since joining the Partnership for Peace program in 2006 and the Membership Action Plan in 2009, Montenegro has demonstrated a strong commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration. Montenegro has built a small but capable military and reformed its security services to meet NATO standards. The nation has made significant progress in addressing domestic issues related to the rule of law, corruption, organized crime, and security sector reform. Montenegro has been a reliable partner, supporting NATO-led missions in Afghanistan, and it continues to support the Resolute Support Mission by training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces. Additionally, Montenegro has joined NATO allies in all major policy decisions, including sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Montenegro’s entry into NATO will help ensure its long-term stability, sovereignty, and security – and will help advance the agenda of stability and security in Southeastern Europe.

This effort has broad bipartisan support. Vice President Biden agreed, “Montenegro’s NATO membership will be a significant milestone in integrating the Balkans into Euro-Atlantic institutions and contribute to stability, security, and prosperity in the Balkans.” And as Senator John McCain has said, “Montenegro’s membership to NATO could be a driving force of stability in the region.”

Montenegro’s NATO membership would also demonstrate the credibility of NATO’s “open door” policy based on Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, which for two decades has underscored the importance of sovereign nations freely choosing their own path. Moreover, it would clearly reject the notion that any third party would possess a de facto veto on NATO enlargement – a decision left solely to the North Atlantic Council and the aspirant country in question. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has put it, “Montenegro’s membership will demonstrate to all those who aspire to membership that if a country delivers, so does NATO. Our door remains open.”

The progress made by Montenegro and its significance for the Western Balkans, a region that has been long held back by instability and conflict, demonstrates the clear transformative power of democratic Alliances and Euro-Atlantic integration. In times of regional and international volatility, supporting and strengthening Alliance structures that promote common, rules-based approaches and understanding is critical. Montenegro’s accession to NATO would be another important step in this effort, and is why we urge President Obama and Congress to move forward with ratification of Montenegro’s NATO Accession Protocol as quickly as possible, so it can be done by the end of 2016.

Jeremy Bash, former CIA Chief of Staff (2009-11), former Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (2011-13)

Hans Binnendijk, former NSC Senior Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control (1999-2001)

Stephen Biegun, former Executive Secretary, National Security Council 2001-03; Former Staff Director, Senate Foreign Relations Committee 1999-2001

General Philip Breedlove (USAF, ret.), former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO (2013-16)

Ambassador Sue Brown, former U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro (2011-2015)

Ian Brzezinski, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy (2001-05)

Ambassador William Burns, former Deputy Secretary of State (2011-14)

Ambassador Richard Burt, former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (1983-85)

Derek Chollet, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (2012-15)

Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs (2001-09)

Karen Donfried, former NSC Senior Director for European Affairs (2013-14)

Eric Edelman, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2005-2009)

Ambassador Julie Finley, former U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE (2005-09)

Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia (2012-15)

Michele Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2009-11)

Richard Fontaine, former Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator John McCain (2004-09)

Jeff Gedmin, former President and CEO, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (2007-11)

Ambassador Robert Gelbard, former Presidential Special Representative for the Balkans (1997-99)

Philip Gordon, former Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (2009-13)

Stephen Hadley, former National Security Advisor (2005-09)

Chuck Hagel, former Secretary of Defense (2013-15)

Michael Haltzel, former Democratic Staff Director, Subcommittee on European Affairs, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Kathleen Hicks, former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2012-13)

General James L. Jones (USMC, ret.), former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO (2003-6)

David J. Kramer, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (2008-09)

Ambassador Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia (2011-14)

James N. Miller, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2012-14)

Sally Painter, former Senior Advisor to The Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of State

Kori Schake, former NSC Director for Defense Strategy and Requirements (2001-05)

Julianne Smith, former Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President (2012-13)

Admiral James Stavridis (ret.), former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO (2009-13)

Ambassador Kurt Volker, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO (2008-09)

General Chuck Wald (USAF, ret.), Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command (2003-2006)

Damon Wilson, former NSC Senior Director for European Affairs (2007-09)