New challenge against #Russia : #NATO offer of Membership to #Montenegro
Brussels, Belgium ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – NATO formally invited the tiny Adriatic nation of Montenegro on Wednesday to become the 29th member of the military alliance in a move that could draw rebuke from Russia.
Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian head of NATO, described the invitation as a “historic achievement.”
It is the group’s first expansion in six years. Montenegro’s fellow Balkan countries Albania and Croatia were admitted in 2009.
“Our decision reflects the reforms implemented by Montenegro, and the commitment it has shown to our common values and to international security,” NATO said.
Russia has said that it opposes Montenegro joining NATO because it sees any expansion of the alliance into ex-Communist territory in eastern Europe as a threat to its interests and stability in the region.
The country is also a favored investment site for some Russians.
Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, said that Russia will be looking at possible retaliatory measures, the Associated Press reported.
Ukraine also has ambitions to join NATO but that aspiration has been complicated by its ongoing conflict with Russia there despite a ceasefire agreement.
Montenegro’s accession process is expected to last about a year.
It has a small army of about 2,000 armed personnel, according to the Balkan Insight, a website for information and news about the region.
In a recent report released by Montenegro’s defense ministry, the country with a population of about 621,000 also needs more young officers. The average age of an officer from Montenegro is 39 compared to 29 for most NATO countries.
Montenegro Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said the nation “was entering the exclusive circle of states which are synonymous with the highest values of modern civilization.”
NATO made the announcement about expanding the military alliance after a two-day meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels where members also said they were ready to do more to combat Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
“There are a number of things countries can do,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in Brussels, without unveiling any specific plans. He nevertheless urged the alliance to broaden cooperation to help in the fight against the extremist organization.For more news and stories, join us on Facebook,Twitter , or contact us through our Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com