CETINJE /Montenegro/, April 28. /TASS/. Montenegro’s Skupstina, or parliament, on Friday voted for the country’s joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The parliament session was broadcast live on Skupstina’s official website.
As many as 46 out of 81 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill on confirming the North Atlantic Treaty and of a protocol to the Treaty on Greece’s and Turkey’s accession to the organization. The opposition, which has been boycotting parliament session in the recent months did not take part in the voting but held a protest rally outside the parliament building instead.
Protocol on Montenegro’s joining NATO was ratified by the upper house of the US Congress on March 28, with 97 lawmakers voting for and only two - against. The US Congress had been refraining from voting that matter for a long lime.
Montenegro received a plan of action on its NATO membership at the Alliance’s summit in December 2009. After the protocol on Montenegro’s accession to NATO was signed in May 2016, the country was granted an observer status. After the protocol is ratified by all of NATO’s member countries and Montenegro, it will become the 29th member of the North Atlantic Alliance. By now, the protocol has been ratified by 24 out of 28 NATO member states.
At the time when the former Soviet Union collapsed, along with the Communist block, NATO was comprised of 12 member states. In 1999, it was joined by Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Estonia joined the Alliance in 2004, and Albania and Croatia - in 2009. Now, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has 28 member countries and continues the policy of open doors. Among candidates for NATO membership is Macedonia. NATO’s summit in Bucharest in 2008 passed a decision to launch an admission program for Georgia and Ukraine.
Russia insists that NATO’s eastwards expansion has entailed growth of tensions in Europe. This fact was stressed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Munich Security Conference on February 18. According to the Russian top diplomat, NATO’s expansion has caused "an unprecedented in the past 30 years degree of tension in Europe." "Judging by certain statements at the Munich Conference, the cold war is not yet over," he said back then.