10:55 GMT28 January 2021
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    Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic expressed his gratitude in a statement on Wednesday to the US Senate for the approval of Montenegro's accession to the NATO military alliance.

    BELGRADE (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day,  US senators voted 97-2  in favor of Montenegro joining the 28-member alliance.

    “Amid the decision of the US Senate, the President of Montenegro has expressed his deep satisfaction with several aspects. First of all, a determination of this biggest and most significant NATO member [the United States] to support the expansion of the alliance was proved as a vast majority of senators ratified the decision,” the statement of the presidential office read.

    Vujanovic expressed hopes that the Montenegrin parliament would ratify the bill in order to be admitted to the alliance as soon as possible, according to the statement.

    “The verification of partnership between the United States and Montenegro recognizes a successful integrational policy of Montenegro that is especially important for the overall development of the country, its security and contribution to the stability of the region,” the statement read.

    Earlier on Wednesday, the Montenegrin Socialist People's Party (SNP) condemned the decision to join the alliance and called for a nationwide referendum, saying that only Montenegrin nationals could make such decisions.

    The country was invited to join NATO on December 2, 2015, in the alliance's first expansion into Eastern Europe in six years. The country accepted the invitation the following day, which triggered protests. In May 2016, the Alliance members signed a protocol on its accession, since all the NATO member states must ratify Montenegro in order for it to become a full-fledged member.

    In late January, the country’s prime minister said Montenegro expected to become a full-fledged member of NATO before the next summit of the military alliance, reportedly anticipated for May, despite the oppositional calls to hold a referendum on the issue.


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