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news 25 Jun 14

NATO Rejects Montenegro Membership in 2014

Ministers of NATO countries have decided not to offer the ex-Yugoslav state membership of the military alliance this year, saying they will reconsider Montenegro’s bid in 2015.

Dusica Tomovic
Podgorica

NATO secretary-general Andres Fogh Rasmussen announced after ministerial meetings in Brussels on Wednesday that Montenegro would not be invited to join at a summit in September.

“On Montenegro, we will open intensified and focused talks, and we will assess at the latest by the end of 2015 whether to invite Montenegro to join the alliance,” Rasmussen said.

He said that Montenegro, like three other membership hopefuls, Macedonia, Ukraine and Georgia, still had work to do before being granted membership of the Western military alliance.

But he stressed that NATO maintained its ‘open door’ policy despite strong Russian opposition to the alliance's further expansion into the former Communist east.

“Let me be clear: NATO’s door remains open. And no third country has a veto over NATO enlargement,” he said.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic is optimistic that Montenegro will fullfil its strategic goal - NATO membership, next year.

"I am convinced that Montenegro fulfilled the expectations of its NATO partners," Djukanovic said.

"It does not mean that we should not continue to work on our priorities - rule of law, security system reform and the army. It remains our task regardless of the invitation or after it," Djukanovic said.

Nebojsa Kaludjerovic, NATO coordinator in Montenegro, said that the Rasmussen's statment was "a clear proof" that Montenegro is in the last phase of the accession.

The opposition leader Nebojsa Medojevic asked for resignation of the country's highest officials.

"Due to the collapse of one of the national strategic objective of foreign and security policy,  it would be a minimum that responsibile government officials immediately resign," Medojevic added.

Podgorica has pushed to join the alliance after it split from Serbia in 2006. It was given a Membership Action Plan in 2009, which is regarded as a final step before joining.

Despite the apparent success of its security reforms, public support in Montenegro for NATO membership remains low, according to opinion polls.

Dukanovic’s government claims 46 per cent of Montenegrins support membership, but opposition parties and NGOs believe that figure is much lower, around 35 per cent.

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