Montenegro’s leader may have been inadvertently shoved aside by President Donald Trump at the NATO summit, but he has gotten his tiny country a spot in the alliance.
Prime Minister Dusko Markovic was on hand Monday when his Connecticut-sized country formally became the 29th member of NATO during at a ceremony in the State Department’s Treaty Room.
“This event represents the culmination of many years of effort on behalf of the government and people of Montenegro to join the Euro-Atlantic community of nations,” a State Department statement read. “Montenegro’s NATO membership will support greater integration, democratic reform, trade, security, and stability with all of its neighbors.”
In Brussels, Belgium, the red flag of Montenegro with its two-headed golden eagle was raised at NATO headquarters for the first time. The county has just 650,000 people and a military just 2,000 strong, but it’s a strategic Balkan country that had for many years cultivated closer ties to Moscow.
There was no mention of last month’s diplomatic kerfuffle which erupted after video went viral of Trump apparently pushing Markovic aside and barging to the front of the pack for a group photo.
The White House insisted there was no shove, but the people of Montenegro were not amused.
"It seems Donald Trump did not want that anyone overshadows his presence at the summit," said the Montenegro newspaper Vijesti.
"America First" and "Where do you think you are going?" blared the headlines on other Balkan websites.
Rather than complain about being manhandled by Trump, Markovic dismissed what happened as a "a harmless situation" and instead thanked the American president for supporting Montenegro's membership in NATO.