The Turkish Ministry of Defense will become the main donor of the Armed Forces of Montenegro by donating EUR16 million over the next five years. The funds will be used for the production of vehicles for the army and education of its members within the Turkish military school system.
According to Balkan Security Network portal (www.balkansec.net), of the mentioned sum, some EUR15.5 million will be used for the production of off-road vehicles, while slightly over EUR500,000 is reserved for the education of Montenegrin officers in Turkey.
“Through the donation to the Montenegrin military, Turkey is both strengthening its presence in the Balkans and sending out a political and security-related message about its prestige and good will, while the budget helps support the Turkish industry,” the report says.
For now, according to the portal, there is no precise information on what kind of vehicles will be procured, but there are some indications that they will be produced by Turkish company BMC, the main manufacturer of combat and non-combat vehicles for the Turkish military and police forces.
“The most prized military item on the manufacturer’s list is the Altay tank, but it is not something Montenegro’s army is interested in, given its decision not to use tanks anymore,” the portal reports.
The report recalls that Montenegro’s army is currently using mostly “obsolete” off-road vehicles from the TAM and FAP series from the 1980s.
Financial aid for military education is a novelty, and this school year saw the fist Montenegrin cadet commence his studies at the Turkish Military Academy in Ankara. He is to spend his first year studying Turkish and the next four he will study at the Academy along with his Turkish colleagues.
Unrelated to this donation package, there is another donation program being implemented at the moment, worth EUR5.3 million – the Business Agency of the Turkish Ministry of Defense has committed itself to providing Montenegro’s army with new uniforms by 2022.
Last year, as part of the first phase of the project implementation, the army received 2,700 field and 250 navy uniforms, worth EUR1.26 million in total. Given that at the moment the Montenegrin military has 1,950 troops, the donation has already satisfied the army’s needs, but the said number includes new organizational structures according to which by 2022, the number of personnel, including civilians, will rise to 2,368.
New uniforms are also required for those who have applied for voluntary military service this year, as well as for the future strategic reserve.
Montenegro’s army is expecting another donation soon, comprising 30 automatic rifles of Turkish make – 15 5.56mm caliber MPT-55s, and 15 7.62mm caliber MPT-76s, worth EUR38,477.
“Turkey is using a so-called soft approach in strengthening its presence in the Balkans, which has until now been reflected mostly in its support to Kosovo Security Force, which had received arms donations and Otokar Cobra combat vehicle. Its officers are also attending Turkish military academies. On the list of officers who graduated as army pilots from Turkish academies last year there was one second lieutenant, and this year – two,” the report also says.
In 2012, Turkey made an agreement with the Serbian Government committing itself to financing the project of reconstructing a portion of the airport in Kraljevo intended for civilian use. This was a part of a defense collaboration project for which Turkey was willing to allocate EUR10 million, on condition that Turkish contractors were engaged for project execution. To this day there has been no information about why this donation had not been used.
“During a meeting between the presidents of the two countries, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Aleksandar Vucic, on Oct. 7, according to official information, the topic of military-technical collaboration was brought up. Vucic said the interest in the acquisition of Turkish defense systems for the Serbian army has been expressed, and that cooperation on exchanging technologies and establishing joint enterprises in the military industry is in progress,” the portal reports.