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NATO lauds Montenegro's progress toward membership

NATO lauds Montenegro's progress toward membership

NATO on Thursday praised Montenegro, a leading candidate for alliance membership, for its "clear commitment" to Euro-Atlantic integration and its contribution to military coalition in Afghanistan.
The move comes as European Union leaders are set to approve opening accession negotiations with the bloc, paving the way for the tiny Balkan nation to eventually join the union.
Despite the financial crisis and structural problems shaking the bloc, Balkan states are still enthusiastic about joining. Croatia has completed negotiations and is slated to become the 28th member next year.
Montenegro gained independence in 2006 and immediately applied for membership in both NATO and the European Union. It is likely to join the alliance in the next year, while the EU accession process is expected to last about 5 years.
The Adriatic nation of 625,000 people, has an army, air force and navy totaling just 2,200 members. Its (EURO)28 million ($35 million) defense budget is the smallest of any of NATO's 28 current members.
"I am very grateful for your participation in (the NATO-led force Afghanistan) and your financial support for the Afghan Security Forces _ this is a significant effort," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting with top Montenegrin officials.
Montenegro has about 40 troops in the 130,000-strong international coalition, comprising an infantry platoon and a team of advisers with the Afghan military police.
Fogh Rasmussen also commended Montenegro for fostering security in the Balkan region, and congratulated the country on the progress achieved in its EU accession process. He urged Montenegro to continue its reforms and to maintain adequate defense spending despite tough economic times.


Updated : 2021-07-30 00:54 GMT+08:00