The Balkan nation of Montenegro has been formally invited to begin the accession process of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO. The most recent additions to the 28 member-alliance were Croatia and Albania in 2009.
“NATO’s Open Door policy has helped spread security, stability and democratic values for which the Alliance stands,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Since 2009, NATO and Montenegro have worked closely together through the Membership Action Plan, which helps nations prepare for possible future membership. Secretary General Stoltenberg said Montenegro was invited to join NATO due to its “unwavering commitment to our common values and to international security.”
Secretary General Stoltenberg said it was important for Montenegro to continue on its reform path, “on defense adaptation, on domestic reform, especially rule of law, and to continue to make progress in demonstrating public support for Montenegro’s NATO membership.” The Alliance will continue to monitor progress in these areas as accession talks begin and during the treaty ratification process.
Montenegro’s Foreign Minister Igor Luksic said he was committed to fighting organized crime and corruption as well as modernizing the country’s military. “We are determined to work tirelessly not to please others but to change our society for the better,” he said.
Accession talks will start in early 2016. Once they are concluded, Alliance members will sign an accession protocol which will have to be ratified by all 28 member states. Once that process is complete, Montenegro will be able become a member of NATO.
The United States supports Montenegro’s accession into NATO. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “We took another step towards the full integration of Europe and towards the common defense by inviting Montenegro into the Alliance and solidifying its place in the Euro-Atlantic community of security and of values and by reaffirming also the open-door policy of NATO. [The United States] looks forward to working with Montenegro’s leadership in the months ahead.”