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Stoltenberg Hails Montenegro's NATO Accession as Message to Other Countries

© AP Photo / Risto BozovicAnti-NATO demonstrators burn a NATO flag in front of a a banner that reads: "No to NATO, your hands are bloody - Death to fascism, freedom to the people", during a protest outside the hall before the parliament session in Cetinje, Montenegro, Friday, April 28, 2017
Anti-NATO demonstrators burn a NATO flag in front of a a banner that reads: No to NATO, your hands are bloody - Death to fascism, freedom to the people, during a protest outside the hall before the parliament session in Cetinje, Montenegro, Friday, April 28, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Montenegro’s accession into NATO sends a message to the countries seeking to join the alliance that if a country is carrying out reforms and embraces democracy it can do so, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – On Monday, Montenegro has officially become a party to NATO during a ceremony in Washington, DC. The accession ceremony was marked by the handover of the instrument of accession from Montenegro’s Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic to US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon.

"Montenegro’s accession sends a message to all the states that seek membership, that if a country travels the path of reform, embraces democracy and the rule of law and proves itself willing and able to contribute to our collective defense, sharing the responsibilities as well as the rewards then it too can join the alliance," Stoltenberg told reporters.

Anti-NATO demonstrators hold a banner during a protest outside the hall before the parliament session in Cetinje, Montenegro, Friday, April 28, 2017 - Sputnik International
Montenegro's Accession to NATO is 'One of the Biggest Betrayals in History'
Podgorica was invited to join the 28-nation military alliance in December 2015. Montenegrin authorities accepted the invitation that caused protests in the Balkan nation. On May 19, 2016, NATO member states signed the accession protocol. According to NATO's website, the accession process is expected to finish by June 2017.

On April 25, US President Donald Trump signed the protocol on Montenegro’s accession to NATO, which was the final step in ratifying the document.

Russia has repeatedly expressed concerns over the further expansion of NATO into the east. Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the political course of Montenegro that sees them joining the alliance without holding a nationwide referendum.

Montenegro was bombed by NATO in 1999.

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