16 Apr 15
NATO Chief Praises Montenegro Reform Progress
NATO welcomed Montenegro’s military reforms and its support for the Western alliance’s mission in Afghanistan – a boost for the country’s hopes for a membership invitation this year.
NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that Montenegro has made “real progress towards membership”.
Speaking after talks in Brussels with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Stoltenberg said Podgorica had “introduced substantial reforms” to improve the the rule of law in the country as well as the defence and intelligence sectors.
He called Montenegro “a champion of regional cooperation” and said it has repeatedly shown that it shares “our values”.
His comments came as the Western military alliance seeks to consolidate its position amid the crisis with Russia over Ukraine. Montenegro’s ambitions for membership are opposed by the Kremlin.
In 2009, Montenegro granted a Membership Action Plan, the final step in an application for NATO membership.
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 the at its summit in Wales last September to open intensified talks with Montenegro.
“It is a chance to show that you are delivering in areas such as the reform of the intelligence sector, strengthening the rule of law, and increasing public support for membership,” Stoltenberg told Djukanovic in Brussels.
Djukanovic expresed optimism that in the months to come, Montenegro will meet the requirements of its Western partners.
“And we hope to be able to say that we are fully ready to take on the responsibility of a new NATO member,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn urged Montenegro to start implementing the reform legislation it has passed.
After the meeting Djukanovic in Brussels , Hahn said Podgorica must show “concrete and sustainable” progress on implementing the legislation in order to move closer to both EU and NATO membership.
Hahn said that “this is definitely also linked to the assessment when it comes to getting a membership invitation from NATO”.
Moscow has said repeatedly that Podgorica’s NATO ambitions run counter to hundreds of years of “fraternal relations” between the two Slavic, Orthodox Christian nations. The Kremlin opposes any NATO expansion in eastern Europe, seeing it as a threat to its security.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)