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Montenegro Would Really Appreciate It If Trump Backed The Heck Off

After being cited as a reason NATO's defense commitments might not be so great, Montenegro politely pushed back against the US president.

Posted on July 19, 2018, at 3:43 p.m. ET

In an interview with Fox News that aired Tuesday night, President Donald Trump seemed a little iffy about NATO's defense provisions.

Trump says he's bothered by provisions of NATO that require the US to come to the defense of other member countries.

In particular, host Tucker Carlson name-dropped Montenegro as a country that might not be in the best interest of the US to help defend.

Trump in response said that Montenegrins were "very aggressive people" and could potentially help start World War III by dragging the US into a conflict via NATO.*

(*In actuality, NATO is a self-defense treaty, so the US would have to step in only if Montenegro were attacked.)

Montenegro, for those of you not familiar with Balkan geography, is here. It and Serbia were the last of the former Yugoslavia to split apart into their own states, back in 2006.


It immediately set about the process of joining both NATO and the European Union. Montenegro became a member of the former in 2017 and is expected to join the latter by 2025.

It's got a pretty small armed services of its own — only about 1,950 troops as of last year — but Montenegro has sent 20 of them to assist NATO's mission in Afghanistan.

Montenegrin Ministry of Defense

By sheer percentages, that means that Montenegro currently sends more of its armed forces to Afghanistan than the United States does.

But that hasn't exactly been a bridge between Montenegro and Trump.

Remember this moment at last year's NATO summit, when he was captured pushing Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic aside ahead of the group picture?

It's quite the treatment for a country that opted to side with NATO and the EU over Russia, which reportedly supported a foiled coup plot against Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic in 2016.

Pool / Reuters

On Thursday, the Montenegro government decided that enough was enough, issuing a statement to push back against Trump in the nicest language possible.

Government of #Montenegro: we are proud of our history, our friendship and alliance with #USA is strong and permanent #USpartnerMNE #WeAreNATO

"Montenegro is proud of its history and tradition and peaceful politics that led to the position of a stabilising state in the region and the only state in which the war didn't rage during disintegration of the former Yugoslavia," the statement from the cabinet read.

The statement went out of its way to declare that the ties between Montenegro and the US are "strong and permanent," no matter what was said by Trump, who wasn't mentioned by name in the release.

The Government of #Montenegro, asked by numerous domestic and foreign media to comment on yesterday's statement by #US President @realDonaldTrump, adopted at today's 86th Cabinet session the following stance #USpartnerMNE #WeAreNATO

Instead it notes that Montenegro was "the first in Europe to resist the Fascism [sic], and today as a new NATO member and a candidate for the EU membership it contributes to peace and stability not only on the European continent but worldwide, along with US soldiers in Afghanistan."

"In today's world, it does not matter how big or small you are, but to what extent you cherish the values of freedom, solidarity and democracy," it said.

Some history nerds, however, did manage to find a way to drop in some facts about Montenegro's past aggressions.

To be fair to Trump, the Kingdom of Montenegro started the Balkan Wars in 1912 by invading Ottoman Albania, all of which preceded WWI....

But as far as 2018 goes, Montenegro seems like it's going out of its way to project chill vibes.

Paul Hanna / Reuters


Trump shoved Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic to get into position for a picture last year. An earlier version of this story misidentified him.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.