NATO Foreign Ministers Invite Montenegro to Start Accession Talks
At their meeting, which is taking place in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, foreign ministers of the NATO member countries invited Montenegro to start accession talks to become the 29th member of the Alliance.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed the decision as “historic”, identifying it as a good day for Montenegro, the Western Balkans and the Alliance.
Stoltenberg highlighted that the decision was an “important step in the Euro-Atlantic integration of the entire Western Balkans region”.
According to him, this was a clear sign that “NATO keeps its door open” and is willing to complete its vision of a “Europe whole, free and at peace”.
The decision to invite Montenegro was taken at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of foreign ministers.
Montenegro's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Igor Luksic and Defence Minister Milica Durisic were invited to join the meeting after the decision had been taken.
NATO and Montenegro have been working closely together through the Membership Action Plan since 2009.
Stoltenberg noted the commitment of Montenegro to the common values of NATO and international security.
The secretary general added that it was important for Montenegro to continue on its path of reforms.
The accession talks are expected to start in the beginning of 2016. Once these are completed, the Allies will sign an accession protocol which will have to be ratified by the parliaments of all 28 member countries.
This will constitute the first enlargement of NATO since 2009 when Albania and Croatia joined the Alliance.
At the first day of their meeting on Tuesday, foreign ministers addressed the challenges to the south, approved a new strategy on hybrid warfare and agreed additional assurance measures for Turkey.
The ministers also reviewed the progress of the international coalition against Islamic State (IS), the measures taken in the aftermath of the November 13 attacks in Paris and the Vienna talks on finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
As regards the challenges to the south, which Stoltenberg identified as "grave and complex", NATO took action in three areas: strengthening collective defence, helping crisis management and working with partners to build regional stability.
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