NATO is set to expand for the first time in six years as the US-led military alliance invited Montenegro to join.
Words: Daisy Greenaway, Subeditor: Mariya Savova
Just 16 years ago NATO bombed Montenegro, when it was still part of Yugoslavia, during the Kosovo war.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO head, called the move “historic”, while Russia warned against the decision – claiming it will be a threat to stability in the Balkans. Diplomats believe Russia cannot veto the expansion, whereas a Russian foreign minister said the expansion would send a “powerful confrontational message”.
Talks will take about a year to complete but if the invitation is accepted it will be NATO’s first expansion into eastern Europe since Albania and Croatia joined in 2009.
In Montenegro opinions are divided over the invitation, with many still angry over the 1999 bombings. The attacks were part of a strategy to prevent the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians in what was Serbia’s southern province of Kosovo.
NATO diplomats are adamant, however, that polls show public opinion is in favour of joining.
The government, which is in favour of the move, has ignored calls for a referendum to be held on the matter.