March 15, 2009
Montenegro’s official bid for EU membership has overshadowed the small republic’s NATO-integration. The Hungarian military diplomacy has offered mentoring services to Montenegro and will expand the Podgorica mission.
Hungary has just finished a similar mission in Croatia, helping the former Yugoslav republic’s accession into the military alliance. Hungary and Croatia have a very strong relationship in this field. The two countries had formed a single polity for more than 900 years. The Russian troops have barely left Hungarian soil when the new, democratic Hungarian government has supported the Croatian war of independence with weapons (which it had never admitted officially). Austria and Hungary had been competing to reintegrate with Croatia, the last large former K.u.K. territory outside the Union.
Hungary is one of the biggest investors in the tiny republic and treats the former Yugoslavia as a priority to build lasting political, economic and military alliances. Given the current relative weaknesses of the 10m-strong Hungarian republic, co-operation with the 0,6m Montenegro is affordable and probably strategically important for both sides.
NATO accession has been treated by Central European strategic thinking as inseparable from EU accession and also a necessary political step to achieve the political and economic integration. NATO membership is usually supported by vast majorities in the region where the different small nations and ethnic groups have been used as a battleground for larger powers.