By Arthur Molt*
(EurActiv) — Little ones at the front. Big ones at the back. It works for taking photos but that logic was not folowed last week at the NATO summit in Brussels.
Former media personality and real estate mogul Donald Trump tried to make it clear he was the most important person there when he barged his way to the front of a group of his fellow leaders.
The man who took the brunt of his display of bravado was Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković.
With a population of just 600,000, his country is the smallest state in the Balkans. Although it is the smallest state in the region, Montenegro is the richest, with a GDP of $6,700 per person.
Trump supporters revel in the president’s alpha-male approach to leadership. Pushing Marković out of the way could be interpreted as the top dog relegating the weaker man to the back but the simple fact is he probably did not even know who he was.
The American leader’s difficulties in dealing with European politicians are well known. Trump has in the past confused Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with Council President Donald Tusk, according to the former.
Montenegro will join NATO on 5 June, under Marković’s leadership, but there was a decisive lack of welcome from Trump. Just a shove.
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Perhaps it is unfair to criticise Trump for not knowing who Marković was, despite having access to a huge amount of information and data, when many people reading this article would have been unable to name the Montenegrin leader before he was thrust into the spotlight.
Did Trump just shove another NATO leader to be in the front of the group? pic.twitter.com/bL1r2auELd
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) May 25, 2017
Duško Marković, born in 1958 in northern Montenegro, worked as a legal expert and then as a politician in his hometown of Mojkovac between 1989 and 1991.
He then filled the position of secretary-general in the government of Milo Đukanović and was in 2005 appointed by parliament to lead Montenegro’s security agency.
Marković represents the Democratic Socialist Party (DPS), a movement that has its roots in the old League of Communists of Yugoslavia.
The DPS has dominated Montenegrin politics since the first free elections were held and DPS President Đukanović served as prime minister five times, as well as holding the office of president from 1998 to 2002.
A former ally of then-Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, Đukanović turned against him in the late 1990s by pursuing a vision of an independent Montenegro and by staying neutral in the war in Kosovo.
Montenegro finally succeeded from Serbia in 2006, after it held a referendum on the issue. The country has since allied itself with Western values, by recognising the independence of Kosovo in 2008.Serbia was heavily critical of this decision and Montenegro’s ethnic Serbs protested in the streets.
The DPS’s main rivals, the Democratic Front, is also opposed to NATO and EU membership, the former of which has now been granted and the latter of which formally started in 2012. The Democratic Front wants to organise a referendum on both membership bids though.
Last year’s October elections reconfirmed the DPS as the main party but it missed out on a majority, meaning it has had to broker deals with smaller political groups.
Marković is keen to follow the course that was plotted by his predecessor and party chief. He wants to cut government spending and borrowing, as well as achieving yearly growth of between 3.4% and 4%.
Montenegro’s EU accession negotiations are quite advanced in relation to its fellow Western Balkan candidates and 26 negotiating chapters have been opened, including two on justice and fundamental rights.
Although an EU accession date has not been set, NATO membership is imminent. In December 2015, Montenegro was invited to join the Alliance and the existing 28 members were asked to ratify its membership.
The US Senate gave its approval at the end of March, with 97 voting in favour of Montenegro joining. We can only speculate as to whether Donald Trump remembers this diplomatic protocol being pushed through. It certainly was not on his mind when he shoved his ally out of the way last week.
This article was originally published in German by EURACTIV’s partner treffpunkteuropa.de.