Montenegro becomes NATO’s 29th member amid opposition from Russia Monday June 05,2017
Montenegro became NATO’s 29th member Monday June 05,2017 just as the crucial Atlantic alliance appeared imperiled by US President Donald Trump’s ambiguous commitment to its mutual defence pledge.
Foreign minister Srdjan Darmanovic submitted the small Balkan state’s official accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a ceremony at the US State Department, just 11 years after it became an independent nation.
The move came in the face of bitter opposition from Moscow, which says NATO’s steady expansion into the former communist states of eastern Europe threatens its own security and cannot go unchallenged.
Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Dusko Markovic alluded to the country’s history under Moscow’s political influence when it was part of Yugoslavia, saying NATO accession signified the right to set its own future, under its own name.
“We are celebrating today the fact that it will never happen again that someone else decides instead of us and our state behind our back, as was the case in the past,” Markovic said.
Speaking at the ceremony, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Montenegro’s accession is “good for the stability of the western Balkans. And it’s good for international peace and security”.
Montenegro’s accession completes NATO’s presence along the entire northern Mediterranean coast, from Gibraltar to Syria.
The move has been seen by Russia as a threat to its own traditional sphere of influence. Moscow considers Montenegro, whose population is mostly Slavic Orthodox, to be within that historic sphere.
“Moscow cannot but consider the strategic consequences of this step and thus we reserve the right to take decisions aimed at protecting our interests and national security,” Russia’s foreign ministry said after Montenegro’s parliament approved NATO accession in April.
Formerly part of Yugoslavia, Montenegro, with a population of 620,000, became an independent republic in 2006 when it voted in a referendum to split with Serbia