Montenegro Confident of NATO Membership Invite
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Montenegro Confident of NATO Membership Invite
Quote:The Podgorica government believes that a NATO membership invitation is inevitable at the two-day meeting that starts on Tuesday and has invited dozens of journalists from major Montenegrin media to Brussels to witness the occasion.

A special session of the Montenegrin parliament has also been scheduled for Thursday in the royal capital of Cetinje in anticipation of the expected invitation to join the Western military alliance.

However, NATO officials have warned that is still too early to celebrate, because the final decision will be made by the foreign ministers of the alliance countries over the next two days.

"NATO ambassadors recommended to their foreign ministers to invite Montenegro to the alliance," the Slovak ambassador to NATO, Tomas Valasek, told Montenegrin reporters in Brussels on Monday.

"Past practice has shown that very rarely ministers will take a decision which is different from the decision of their ambassadors, but in theory, there is always this possibility, so don't celebrate just yet," Valasek warned.

While the government of Milo Djukanovic sees joining NATO as a strategic priority, Montenegrins remain bitterly divided about membership.

Many in the large Serbian community are still angry about NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in the 1990s, which forced Belgrade to withdraw from its then province of Kosovo.

The pro-Serbian opposition and anti-NATO organizations urged the authorities on Monday to hold a referendum on membership.

The head of the Montenegro's Atlantic Council think tank, Savo Kentera, said the country definitely has a reason to be optimistic and can probably can expect an invitation.

However he said that given the currently dismal state of relations between the West and Russia, some NATO state might decide against extending an invitation to Montenegro for fear of further angering Moscow.

Russia strongly opposes any further eastward expansion of the military alliance, which it sees as a threat to its security.

"However, I believe that each NATO member state will decide solely as guided by their own and the alliance’s interests," Kentera told BIRN.

Reuters news agency has reported that France is worried that by extending an invitation to Montenegro, it might raise hopes in the ex-Soviet state of Georgia, which also hopes to join.
2015 Dec 01 15:16

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