Policy area


Sustainable development goals and international commitments

In the context of Montenegro’s international commitments, the security and defence policy has undergone substantial changes over the last decade regarding the complexity of geostrategic challenges and strategic policy-making in reference to evolving geostrategic and security environment, on one hand, and Montenegro’s accession to NATO in 2017, on the other, with which Montenegro achieved one of its key foreign policy goals and became an integral part of the collective security system.

NATO membership strengthens Montenegro’s international position and indirectly guides the achievement of its second foreign policy goal – the accession to the European Union. For Montenegro it is important to be an active participant in the collective security system, in NATO activities, missions and operations, given that it is the key assumption for the protection of Montenegro against armed infringements and other recognised threats to its national security, but also for improving the security climate in the region and strengthening Montenegro’s capacities to respond to current challenges, risks and threats.

Apart from being firmly embedded in the constitutional categories of main defence functions – protection of independence, sovereignty and state territory, the bases for policy development and planning in this area stem from corresponding international agreements, given that by becoming a NATO member Montenegro assumed not only its strategic concept, but also specific obligations and responsibilities. The most relevant documents setting Montenegro’s international commitments include:

  • Washington Treaty (the North-Atlantic Treaty (1949))– on 05 June 2017, by submitting the instrument for the ratification of the North-Atlantic Treaty to the US Government, as the treaty depositary, Montenegro became a NATO member
  • The US-Adriatic Charter (A5) is a forum and an instrument for fostering regional cooperation and guiding Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Southeast European countries (the founders are Albania, Croatia, Macedonia and the USA with the aim of assisting aspirant countries to join NATO). Montenegro and BiH joined the Charter on 04 December 2008.
  • NATO Partnership for Peacesigned on 14 December 2006 thus marking the beginning of official relations between Montenegro and NATO. It is a military and political programme of bilateral cooperation between partnership countries and NATO focusing on democratic, institutional and defence reforms.

In addition, Montenegro is a contributor to international stability through active participation to the EU and the UN international peace-keeping missions and operations.

Globally, security and defence policy is based on SDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions, as well as the SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals, aiming to improve global partnerships within the framework of international commitments conducive to the Agenda 2030. As regards the defence policy, increasing attention is given to SDG 5 Gender equality, with Montenegro’s strong commitment to the Action Plan for implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 – Women, peace and security in Montenegro 2019-2022.

The National Sustainable Development Strategy by 2030 envisages, within its thematic area 2. Social resources – support to values, norm and behaviour patterns, the pursuit of the strategic goal 2.3 Develop the state as an efficient rule of law, where the emphasis is on Strengthen administrative capacities, quality of work and integrity of political system institutions, SDG 16 (16.6, 16.a), which coincides with the commitment taken on by Montenegro as a NATO ally, where the Ministry of Defence is one of the institutions involved in its implementation. Another important measure is to secure by 2030 the conditions to eliminate corruption, organised crime and terrorism, with the emphasis on strengthening institutions through international cooperation to combat violence, terrorism and crime SDG 16 (16.a) and increase efficiency of its work, fostering integrity, accountability and transparency in the public sector SDG 16 (16.3,16.5, 16.6,16.7)

Political Copenhagen criteria Political criteria are a part of the "Fundamentals first" approach as one of the3 main pillars of the 2015 EU Enlargement Strategy.
EU acquis chapters

Obligations in the EU accession process

An overview of obligations from negotiation chapters

Candidate countries for EU accession need to meet the so-called Copenhagen criteria defined by the European Council in 1993. Political criteria imply that candidate countries, in addition to stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities, need to be committed to good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation and alignment of its foreign policy with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Chapter 31 – Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)

In the EC 2019 Report, Montenegro is recognised as a country committed to constructive bilateral relations with other enlargement countries and neighbouring EU Member States. The Report notes that Montenegro has signed bilateral conventions on regional cooperation under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with all partners with an SAA in force, the last one being with Kosovo in May 2019. On the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), Montenegro records good progress (100% alignment), and the EC reports that Montenegro supports the EU Global Strategy and continues to align with all relevant High Representative declarations on behalf of the EU and Council decisions. This was supported by further amendment to the Law on International Restrictive Measures to provide for the freezing of assets of persons from the national list of legal and natural persons suspected of terrorism financing.  On the other hand, the Report takes note that Montenegro still maintains a bilateral immunity agreement with the United States, granting U.S. citizens exemptions from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. In doing so, Montenegro does not comply with the EU common positions on the integrity of the Rome Statute or with the related EU guiding principles on bilateral immunity agreements.

An outline of the EU strategic framework

EU Global Strategy adopted in June 2016 focuses on a vision of strong European Union with a common action of all EU Member States, and sets 5 priorities in this respect: 1. Union security; 2. Investment in building state and societal resilience, particularly of the surrounding regions in the East and the South (this pillar includes the enlargement policy for the Western Balkans and Turkey); 3. Integrated approach to conflicts and crisis; 4. Support to cooperative regional orders; and 5. Global governance for the 21st century, with the focus on a rules-based multilateral international order.  The European External Affairs Service (EEAS), among other things, monitors the strategy implementation, with the 2019 report being the most recent available.

The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) includes a number of instruments in the area of diplomacy, humanitarian and development aid, economic support directed to preservation of global security and peace. They form a multidimensional, integrated EU approach to conflict and crisis resolution at all stages – prevention, conflict resolution, investment in stabilisation and avoidance of early abandonment of crisis-prone territories.

When it comes to global defence policy, the Global EU Strategy introduced an instrument of structured collaboration in the area of defence among member states – Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), particularly in the area of military exercises, building capacities on land and, in particular, cyber defence. The focus is also on the civil dimension of the CSDP, established by the 2019 Joint Action Plan by which Member States committed to build civil mission capacities and skills by 2023.

EU-NATO strategic partnership, underpinned by the 2016 Joint Declaration from Warsaw, guides the 22 NATO and EU members to act jointly by developing defence policy instruments, particularly in the area of hybrid threats, maritime security, cyber security, defence capacity building and military exercises.

One of the 6 political priorities of the new European Commission 2019-2024 is A Stronger Europe in the World, which contains the following areas: foreign policy; European neighbourhood policy; international cooperation and development; humanitarian aid, civil protection; trade policy; security and defence.

Security policy and defence in Montenegro’s strategic framework

In the policy planning framework, security and defence strategies take a prominent position as enshrined in Constitution as the basis for building Montenegro’s security and defence systems and further elaboration of the security and defence policy and the preparation of strategic, legal and other documents in pertinent areas. Adopted by the Parliament at the proposal of the Government, these are regarded as umbrella strategy documents.

National Security Strategy from December 2018 was adopted as the single most important strategy paper in the area of security policy setting tools and mechanisms for pursuit and protection of Montenegro’s national security interests. The accompanying Action Plan, aiming to promote the good policy planning principles, is to the greatest extent aligned with the legal framework for strategic planning and introduces specific strategic goals and operational objectives, activities and performance indicators for a three-year period. The National Security Strategy promotes the principle of indivisibility of security, given that geo-political and geo-strategic developments are such to blur the line between foreign and internal policy, and the security of Montenegrin citizens is directly linked with the security in the region, in Europe and beyond. Therefore, the National Security Strategy articulating Montenegro’s strategic orientation underscores the approach to collective and cooperative security and defence system brought about by being a NATO ally in order to ensure enduring and sustained security, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Key strategic interests of Montenegro include, inter alia, the development of an efficient and sustainable national security sector, prevention and suppression of threats and challenges which may affect the security of Montenegro and its allies, and building resilience, civil preparedness and crisis management capabilities, translated into three strategic goals of the accompanying action plan.

The Defence Strategy from February 2019 sets a framework for the development of the defence sector and sets guidelines for defence planning. The Defence Strategy sets the defence goals which, in line with the strategic planning framework, are elaborated through the accompanying Action Plan up to 2022. The Defence Strategy identifies 4 areas of action within the following strategic goals:

  1. Protection of Montenegro’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence(through the development of its defence capabilities, building national intelligence, counter-intelligence and security capacities, and improving cyber defence, security and safety); 2. Contribution to the development of capabilities and capacities of the Alliance (by improving national capabilities to contribute to collective security); 3. Preservation of peace and security in the region and globally (by improving capabilities in response to recognised asymmetrical challenges, risks and threats); 4. Building resilience, civil preparedness and crisis management capabilities (by developing crisis management, civil preparedness and resilience).

Apart from the defence and security development vision contained in strategic orientations set by the two papers, the Medium-Term Government Work Programme 2018-2020 recognises the importance of planning in this policy area through Priority 6: Montenegro – a country with strong international position, focusing on reinforcing its regional position and international reputation as a credible NATO ally and a prospective member of the European Union, among other things, through pursuing the security policy in line with NATO standards. The aim is to continue intensive NATO integration by implementing NATO policies and alignment with NATO standards, including the improvement of the Army of Montenegro’s capabilities to carry out specific tasks (on its own and in cooperation with other NATO allies), as well as modernisation and equipment of the Army in line with NATO standards.

Among the sector-specific strategy papers and other planning documents of relevance in this policy area, the following stand out:

– 2018 Strategic Defence Review as the base document giving an overview of military capabilities, general guidance for continued defence sector reforms, and the basis for improving defence capabilities to pursue the missions and tasks of the Army of Montenegro. This document sets the priorities and defines milestones for developing Army capabilities, starting from the amount of budgetary appropriations, the range of challenges, risks and threats, to collective security demands.

– Long-term Defence Development Plan 2019-2028 shows the intended development of Montenegro’s Army and the defence system, based on the fact that the Army structure and size is projected on its primary mission – the defence of Montenegro and NATO allies. The Long-term Defence Development Plan elaborates on the development of key defence areas: military capability, organisational structure and size of the Army; human resources; physical resources; training and doctrine; logistics and funding.

– Montenegro’s Defence Investment Plan 2019-2024 aspires to reach the defence budget of 2 percent of GDP by 2024 with the appropriate breakdown (50 % administration, 30% operational costs, 20 % equipment and modernisation)

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