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    Flags fly at half mast at NATO headquarters in Brussels, March 23, 2016.

    US Senate Advances Vote to Allow Montenegro in NATO Alliance

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    The US Senate voted on late Monday afternoon to advance the vote to allow Montenegro into the NATO alliance.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The vote on cloture, which limits attempts to filibuster the initiative, passed by a majority.

    NATO has been expanding in South-East Europe since the 1900s. While Greece became the first Balkan NATO member in 1952, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia and Albania joined the military alliance in the 2000s.

    Montenegro was invited to join NATO on December 2, 2015, in the alliance's first expansion into South-East Europe in six years.

    The country's leaders accepted the invitation the following day, but their move triggered mass protests by the populace, which in large part stands against Montenegro joining the alliance.

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

    More recently, Montenegrin official have argued that a referendum is not necessary because NATO is an international organization rather than a mere alliance of states, according to published reports.

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    NATO, US Senate, United States, Montenegro
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