‘Catastrophe’ looms unless Putin is stopped, says leader of small NATO country


Roughly 1/287 the size of Russia and 1/134 the population of Germany, the rugged European nation of Montenegro sits on the Adriatic Sea and is constantly crushed by superpowers and the forces they unleash. The promise of Europe emerging from the Cold War was that small nations like this one could prosper without fear of conquest by larger neighbors. I came.

That leaves the question of whether 21st-century Europe, like Europe centuries ago, is destined to be ruled by giant superpowers.

Doritan Abazovic disagrees. Montenegro’s 36-year-old prime minister ethnic minority in Albania In a country ruled by Montenegrins and Serbs.explainer The French newspaper Le Monde described it as a “phenomenon”: Abazovich sought to divert, at least rhetorically, from the covert politics of discord and ethnic warfare in the region.

Montenegro Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic speaks at a press conference after meeting Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnavic at the Serbian Palace in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, 29 June 2022. Prime Minister Abazovic made an official visit to Serbia for two days (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic speaks at a press conference after meeting with his Serbian counterpart Ana Brnavic in Belgrade, Serbia on June 29. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Likely straddling a bicycle Rather than lounging in the backseat of a limousine, he sought to draw a young nation proud of its past to Montenegro in its modern form. Became a sovereign state in 2006the fight for independence can be traced back to 1040, but the project he embarked on during a time of unprecedented turmoil in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall dates back to an uncertain future.

“This is a problematic moment,” he told Yahoo News in a recent conversation. Now we are going from one crisis to another,” he said, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has shaken the continent in many ways. Montenegro is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and has provided Ukraine with a vast arms stockpile. Serbia is one of the Kremlin’s key allies in Europe.

The moment is also problematic for Abazovich’s own outlook.have lost in the no-confidence vote last month, one of Europe’s youngest leaders, soon to be one of the youngest ex-leaders. A new government will take office early next year. Until then, ambitious young progressives consider themselves relatively unburdened and willing to tell the truths others defend themselves.

“We are in the perfect storm,” Abazovich told Yahoo News from New York, where he recently attended the United Nations General Assembly. I can’t see it,” he continued. “We need to be more specific.”

Abazovich and other young European leaders (Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, 44; Finland’s Sanna Marin, 36) watched the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union years later in the eyes of children and teens. I was watching as an ager. But while Germany embraced Western democracy with moving enthusiasm, the countries of the former Yugoslavia, of which Montenegro was a part, reverted to sectarian violence. Massacre of thousands of Muslims in Srebrenica.

A woman prays in front of a monument bearing the names of those who died in the Srebrenica massacre.

A woman prays in front of a monument bearing the names of those who died in the Srebrenica massacre. (Dad Lubitsch/Reuters)

Balkan countries such as Montenegro and Albania therefore remain on the borderline between the past and the future. The future of foreign tourists tasting Vranac wines and Silicon Valley tech companies setting up campuses in the capital, Podgorica, is an attractive but not always within reach. A billion dollar highway through Montenegro built by the Chinese road to nowhereone of threaten the fragile economy of a small country(The project was financed with a loan from a bank in Beijing.)

At least the war in Ukraine is a reminder that peace in Europe has always been tenuous — that the continent is still a cauldron of competing cultural and economic interests.

Abazovich, in English, continued: “We will either find common solutions to help each other, like we helped each other with COVID, or we will have a very big social problem.”

Like her European peers in favor of green energy and other progressive policies, Abazovich found 2022 to be a year of frustration. The aspirations for a carbon-free future collided with the reality that Russia’s oil and gas is key to both its economy and capacity. To stay warm in the approaching winter. How long will solidarity idealism with Ukraine last? ?

“You can talk about environmental protection, you can talk about economic progress. do. “It could be a catastrophe for years.

Even as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other European leaders in New York and attended a meeting with President Biden, “we have had a very short, short, short conversation” about US participation in Balkan affairs. says Abazovich — he was faced with the reality that he was overwhelmed by the very electoral politics he tried to escape.

The no-confidence vote soon to dismiss Abazovich was a reminder of how easily Europe’s past can overtake Europe’s present. Seeking to strengthen his own fledgling government, he made a risky deal with the Serbian Orthodox Church. Well-documented ties with RussiaThe ensuing parliamentary backlash left Abazovich out of his job with an embarrassing 50-to-1 vote.

Montenegro's Prime Minister Doritan Abazovy arrives before parliament for the no-confidence vote in August.

Abazovich will arrive before Congress for the August no-confidence vote. (Filip Filipovich/Getty Images)

It has been said that failure has distinct characteristics. While other world leaders discreetly sent their messages through an endless procession of conclaves and informal meetings at the United Nations, Abazovich enjoyed a measure of freedom. Judged was best left unsaid.

Among other things, he believes Europe is too late to slow down Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It becomes difficult to deal with.

“We feel very uncomfortable. Today Ukraine could be another country like Moldova or the Baltics tomorrow,” he said. Montenegro faces Russian aggression unlikely to. Due to geographical distance and cultural differences, the cobblestone Yugoslavia of the Soviet Union always enjoyed a degree of independence from Moscow.

But European wars tend to be metastatic. “We need to do more active diplomacy,” Abazovich says, though he’s not exactly sure what that will look like. Neither Abazovich nor any other European leader wants a ground war in Eastern Europe, leaving little choice but to sanction Russia. And weapons for Ukraine.

While his own political future looks bleak, Abazovich believes the future of Europe as a whole is far bleak unless Vladimir Putin’s ambitions are countered with a decisive counterpunch.

“This is going to be a real disaster,” he predicts.