BELGRADE (Sputnik) — NATO issued a formal membership to Montenegro in early December. The decision triggered protests in the capital, gathering some 5,000 opponents.
"According to the procedure, the extending of the invitation letter will be followed by the opening of accession negotiations which will last several months. Following their completion, NATO member states are expected to sign a protocol on the accession of Montenegro to NATO and begin the process of ratification. The protocol will enable Montenegro to take part in most NATO meetings," the statement reads.
Moscow believes that the question of Montenegro’s accession to NATO should be decided by a national referendum, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier in December.