10 Jun 15
Montenegro Awaits NATO Chief With High Hopes
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg is to meet Montenegrin officials in Podgorica on Wednesday to discuss progress made in security reforms ahead of a final decision on whether to invite the country to join the alliance.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, is coming to Podgorica on Wednesday on a two-day visit to discuss Montenegro’s aspirations to become a full member of the Atlantic Alliance by the end of 2015.
Talks will focus on the country’s political stability, the rule of law, including fight against organize crime and corruption, intelligence sector reform and Montenegro’s progress in raising the currently low level of public support for NATO membership, BIRN has learned.
A senior official told BIRN on Tuesday that the NATO chief would deliver an “important message” – a sign that the government is increasingly confident that the Alliance is close to admitting it.
During his visit, the NATO chief will meet President Filip Vujanovic, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, the Foreign and Defence Ministers Igor Luksic and Milicia Pejanovic-Djurisic and with the speaker of parliament, Ranko Krivokapic.
Montenegro is currently conducting its fifth annual plan within the Membership Action Plan, MAP, which is regarded as a final step before joining the Alliance.
NATO foreign ministers are expected to assess Montenegro’s progress towards membership by the end of this year, to decide whether to invite the country to join the alliance.
The alliance decided at its summit in Wales last September to open intensified and focused talks with Montenegro in four areas – political matters, the rule of law, the security sector and military and defence reforms.
As public support for NATO membership remains relatively low, at around only 35 per cent, NATO officials have also urged the government to try to increase levels of support.
In May, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Stoltenberg confirmed that the Alliance would continue pursuing the open-door policy and that a decision on Montenegro’s membership would be reached by the end of the year.
”What we decided in Wales was that the first applicant or aspirant country we’re going to address is Montenegro. And as I said, we’re going to address Montenegro later this year,” he said.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)