Montenegro says it “contributes to peace” in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent claim that the “very aggressive people” of the the small Balkan country could start World War III.
In a statement released Thursday, the Montenegrin government said it “contributes to peace and stability not only on the European continent, but worldwide, along with U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.”
The issue surfaced when Trump again criticized NATO during an interview with Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson when asked why his son should have to defend Montenegro if it is attacked.
The interview was conducted Monday after Trump, a longstanding skeptic of NATO, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Russia was chagrined when Montenegro joined NATO in 2017 and relations between the two countries have been strained as the Balkan nation forges closer ties with the West.
Trump responded, “I understand what you are saying. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people … They’re very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you in World War III,” Trump added.
The comments were made when Trump and Carlson were discussing Article 5, NATO’s common defense clause that says an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all member nations.
Despite Trump’s comments about the country, the Montenegrin government said it remains committed to democracy and to a ‘permanent’ relationship with the U.S.
“In today’s world, it does not matter how big or small you are, but to what extent you cherish the values of freedom, solidarity and democracy,” the statement said. “Therefore, the friendship and the alliance of Montenegro and the United States of America is strong and permanent. ”