Foreign ministers of NATO allies and Montenegro signed an accession protocol on Thursday, marking the final stage on the country’s road towards NATO membership.
NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said on social media: “Foreign ministers just signed accession protocol. Montenegro is very close to becoming NATO’s 29th member.”
The signature of the protocol allows the small Balkan country to participate as an observer in NATO meetings.
“As of today, Montenegro will have a seat at NATO’s table. Taking part in all our meetings as an observer,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the start of Thursday’s meeting of NATO ministers of foreign affairs.
After the signing ceremony in the NATO headquarters, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic will participate for the first time in NATO’s North Atlantic Council Meeting.
The protocol has to be ratified by the parliaments of all NATO 28 member states.
“Once all Allies have ratified the protocol, Montenegro will become the 29th member of the Alliance,” Stoltenberg said.
Montenegro joined the NATO membership action plan in 2009. In December last year, NATO foreign ministers invited Montenegro to begin accession talks to become a member of the alliance.