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Montenegro becomes 29th member of NATO

Thursday, 8 June, 2017 - 16:12

The Adriatic state of Montenegro became the 29th member of NATO at a ceremony in Washington D.C on Monday, becoming the first country to join since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine that heightened tensions between Russia and the West. Speaking at the event in Washington, Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said, “It is a historic event for a country and a nation which endured enormous sacrifices in the 19th and 20th centuries in order to defend their right to a free life, the right to decide our own future, recognised by the world under our own name, and with our own national symbols.” In April, Montenegrin prosecutors charged 14 people including two Russians for attempting to overthrow the government and assassinate the former prime minister last year in an effort to install a pro-Russian government that would keep the country out of NATO. However, polls prior to accession show that Montenegrins, who largely share the same Christian Orthodox faith as well as strong business and cultural links Russia, were evenly split on the decision to join NATO. In a statement issued on Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said, “The continued anti-Russian hysteria in Podgorica is only met with regret in Russia. Given the hostile line taken by Montenegro’s authorities, Russia reserves the right to take response measures on the basis of reciprocity. As in physics, in politics for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The addition of Montenegro to the alliance puts the entire Adriatic coastline in NATO hands and prevents Russia from establishing a seaport in the region. Podgorica’s membership also comes amidst the backdrop of tensions within NATO itself. US President Donald Trump has criticised other members for not paying their fair share and cast doubt on the US’s commitment to Article Five of the treaty which calls for all members to come to the aid of any member that is attacked. Addressing these concerns, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at the ceremony, “We are an alliance of democracies and we have, at times, different political perspectives. But together, we rise above those differences and unite around a common purpose: to stand with each other, to protect each other, and – if necessary – to fight to defend each other.”

 


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