Neither were NATO bases installed in the Montenegrin cities, nor has Montenegro lost sovereignty, nor have our wages been lowered due to the North Atlantic Alliance membership. Everything that anti-membership supporters said turned out to be wrong – Dusko Markovic, the Government House in Cetinje, on the occasion of the first NATO membership anniversary .

According to the unspoken rule, since the period of the Montenegro’s accession talks to the Alliance, a group of opponents to the Montenegrin North Atlantic membership has been airing in the Montenegrin and Serbian media and political scene the stories about losing the country’s sovereignty, freedom which NATO soldiers would enjoy, and possible attacks from other states or terrorist organizations holding grudge against NATO, particularly from the Russian Federation.

NATO radar

Since the presentation of the work results and future plans of the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of Montenegro (AFM) held in November 2018, when the Montenegrin Minister of Defense, Predrag Boskovic mentioned in the context of the future AFM development projects the procurement of a 3D radar for airspace control, numerous regional media, close to Russia or directly deriving from Kremlin, have reported on this with sensationalistic headlines, far away from the truth: Montenegrin Sky Taken by Americans! Up to Their Neck in Debts and Still Provide Millions for the New NATO Radars and From Bjelasica to Serbia NATO Monitors Russia!

Portals such as skandalozno.rs, in4s.net, novosti.rs, srbijadanas.com, smedia.rs, rs-lat.sputniknews.com, rtv.rs, mondo.rs, borba.me present the installation of the NATO radar on Bjelasica as a sort of threat to Russia and Serbia, highlighting that a “total occupation” era is coming and that by installing such a military facility in a place named Zekova glava in Bjelasica Montenegro becomes a legitimate target for Russian projectiles.

In addition, the portal novosti.rs connects the radar installation with the 1999 NATO intervention, highlighting that the projected place for the NATO radar installation is located near a place named Murino which was the NATO intervention target.  

The information on the procurement of a 3D radar was confirmed by Boskovic for agency MINA after the NATO members’ ministerial meeting on February 14, when he highlighted that the procurement of a radar represented the national priority. On that occasion, he emphasized that NATO offers radars to all its member states, and if requested the Alliance estimates whom it is the most needed, adding that the donation would be an acceptable solution for Montenegro. Also, if the radar could not be procured directly from NATO, Montenegro would go the bilateral way and try to procure it from some other member state.

Nevertheless, it has been confirmed that the request for the provision of the 20 million worth radar has been sent, that the NATO Investment Committee is considering it right now and that the negotiations are in progress. If the donation is to be realized, it would relieve Montenegro of the amount of 20 million euros expenses. Certainly, this step forward represents another strong effort to ensure the defense and the protection of the country’s airspace, together with the Air Policing Mission provided by the allied aircraft from Greece and Italy.

The Democratic Front party members, Andrija Mandic and Strahinja Bulajic have taken advantage of this opportunity to emphasize that this operation is directed against Serbia and Russia and that this radar will be a useful support to those aircraft used during the 1999 intervention.

NATO base

In the spirit of malign narratives on a certain radar donation by the Alliance, the abovementioned media have built on the story about the alleged establishment of a NATO base and a military polygon on the territory of Andrijevica and Sinjajevina, where owing to the geographic position exists the best conditions for the creation of a military infrastructure. This story was followed by indispensable conspiracy theory against Serbia and Russia, the stance that Montenegro represents an area for anti-Russian policy, and the use of clickbait headlines such as It is Clear Now What’s been Preparing!, NATO Strikes on Vasojevici, Secret NATO Plan Disclosed: Alliance Builds Two Bases in Montenegro.

What is important to mention is that neither Minister Predrag Boskovic nor any NATO official did confirm the establishment of any NATO base on the territory of Montenegro. On the contrary, the Ministry of defense has confuted numerous times such speculations with words: it is pointless to talk about it anymore.

As for Andrijevica, in the area of around 40 thousand m2 in a place Prljanija, a barrack “Miljan Vukov Vesovic” will most probably be established for the needs of the Armed Forces of Montenegro. This is corroborated by the recently adopted Decision on the Amendments to the Spatial and General Town Plan of the Municipality of Andrijevica. The Amendments to the Plan will provide an area of special use for defense purposes. Recently, certain media have speculated that the barrack establishment in Andrijevica is designed as a provocation giving the fact that in its nearby, in a place Murino, was a NATO intervention in 1999.

When it comes to Sinjajevina, the topic of a military polygon used for target practice, surplus weapons destruction and serving as a sort of a NATO base has frequently been misused for daily political purposes followed by many disinformation. Minister Boskovic said that this location would be used neither for a NATO base establishment, not for surplus weapons destruction, but that the AFM would use this specific area two times a year for several days and operate with less explosive than it is used on a daily basis for the construction of the Bar-Boljari highway.

Let us remind, two years ago when the story about bases was brought about by the Democratic Front and when Milan Knezevic (DF) said for the Moscow-based daily Izvestija that the plans on the establishment of a NATO base will be realized within two years, until 2019, the Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg confuted this statement with words: There will be no NATO activities in Montenegro without the consensus of the Government. NATO acts only when the country welcomes it. There are no plans for NATO base unless we are called on.

Therefore, first, there has to be a clearly presented request of a very NATO member to establish a military base on its territory, as was the case with Albania.

Actually, in August 2018, Edi Rama confirmed on his Facebook profile the establishment of a NATO airbase in Kuçovë in Albania, in the amount of 50 million euros in the first phase of the project, after the Albanian Minister of Defense Olta Xhaçka had proposed her American colleague James Mattis to establish a NATO military base on the territory of Albania.

Following domestic players, individuals and the media, even the high Russian officials joined the debate. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, stated that after Montenegro and Macedonia joined NATO, these countries would see the establishment of the Alliance military facilities on their respective territories, as well as that they would have to spend extra money in future on the purchase of the American weapons and that nobody will like it.

Additionally, portal in4s.net used the potential relocation of a military airport from Golubovci to give once again the impression to the public that everything in Montenegro is being done in the interest of NATO, while at the same time interests of the country are being neglected. On Monday, February 4, the mentioned portal published an article under the headline Writing of IN4S Confirmed: Kapino polje – a Runway for NATO Aircraft. The text states that NATO is getting its foot in the Montenegrin door and that everyone who did not believe in it got a confirmation, personally from “the Montenegrin NATO Ambassador”, Minister Predrag Boskovic.

What is disputable about the content is the fact that the entire article is based on statements given by both the Minister and the Mayor of Niksic, who not once did mention NATO. Therefore, it is concluded that there is a great discrepancy between the headline and the content, raising the question of what kind of confirmation was given by Boskovic and Grbovic.

I hope that issues relating to the airport at Kapino Polje will be implemented in the coming period, for it to be able to respond to requests of partly civilian and military aviation. Today, we have also discussed the planning and the reconstruction of military garrisons, the construction of facilities of the General Staff, and the fact that the suggested deadlines should be met, some of which are urgent. Our Agency is already working on this, and I hope that we will respond to the needs of the Army, which will further implement these projects – Grbovic’s statement based on which the author of the text came to the conclusion that NATO aircraft will be landing in Kapino polje in the future.

In addition, the text itself represents the recycling of old content. During Boskovic’s visit to the town at the foot of Trebjesa in November 2018, the Minister pointed out that there is a possibility of relocating the military airport from Podgorica to Kapino Polje, due to the intentions of expanding the civilian airport in Podgorica. Shortly after, portal in4s.net reacted and published the text in which almost the same claims were made as now, adding that the Montenegrin government offered its cities for the NATO bases purposes. In the next few days, the text was republished by numerous other, mostly Serbian media outlets.

Losing sovereignty

One more hypothesis of anti-NATO activists, analysts and conspiracy theorists, circulating since the period before the membership is the loss of sovereignty. For example, right after Montenegro’s joining to the Alliance, a Democratic Front party member, Strahinja Bulajic, claimed among other things that joining to this military machinery, Montenegro has lost its sovereignty over its territory.

But is it really possible to lose sovereignty?

Sovereignty as a concept that dates back in the era of philosophers, from Socrates to Thomas Hobbes. However, according to the studies of Jackson Sovereignty – Modern: A new Approach to an Outdated Concept and Calster International Law and Sovereignty in the Age of Globalization, the modern sovereignty has been created with the establishment of a Nation-state, thus representing the highest authority exerted by a legal state within its territory. In such a way, the state sovereignty is directly linked with the notion of borders and territory. As Claster further states, territory is simultaneously a condition for a state to exist and a limitation to its rights: in principle, a state is sovereign only in its territory. Further, according to this concept of sovereignty, no other country or organization may impose its jurisdiction to another country.

In order to legally regulate the issue of military bases of one country to a territory of another, there have been adopted in practice the Visiting Force Agreement (VFA) and the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA), as an overall security solutions which regulate and impose conditions under which a foreign military may act in the territory of a host country.

Such reporting is a classic example of a content which rests upon unsubstantiated facts, assumptions and disinformation, all with the aim to deceive a reader when it comes to a sensitive topic of NATO and to increase the level of animosity towards the West, following the recycle of old content and under the veil of everyday propaganda, standard reporting and through now the well-known anti-NATO channels.