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    NATO Seeks Expansion to Eastern Europe (362)
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    The West is “taking great pains” so that Montenegro does not hold a nationwide referendum on joining NATO as the alliance has doubts that the population welcomes the initiative, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – On December 23, 2015, the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry received an official invitation from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for the country to begin integrating into the bloc. Montenegro’s opposition forces are against the country joining NATO.

    On December 2, 2015, NATO invited Montenegro to join the military bloc, in its first expansion into Eastern Europe in six years. Podgorica accepted the invitation the following day. The decision triggered protests in the capital, with some 5,000 opponents taking to the streets and calling for Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's resignation.

    “Our Western partners, who have relayed the importance of democracy and the expansion of democratic principles their entire life are now feverishly fighting against this inherent democratic principle and the free will of the people. I mean here a referendum,” Meshkov told RIA Novosti in an interview.

    “Today, great pains are being taken so as not to hold a referendum in Montenegro in regard to it joining NATO because it’s clear that the pro-Atlantic forces aren’t sure that the Montenegrin people, if they’re given the chance to freely speak their minds, will rush with open arms to those who not so long ago bombed them,” Meshkov said.

    NATO bombed the tiny west Balkan state 16 years ago when Montenegro and Serbia were part of Yugoslavia.

    In the post-Cold War era, NATO saw a 75-percent increase in membership — from 16 to 28 members. The 12 new members were all in the Eastern Europe, either former Warsaw Pact member states, including three former Soviet republics, or former Yugoslav federal republics.

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    NATO Seeks Expansion to Eastern Europe (362)

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    referendum, NATO, Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexei Meshkov, Russia, Montenegro
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