Montenegro invited to begin Nato accession talks

Nato Foreign Ministers decided today to invite Montenegro to begin accession talks to become a member of the Alliance. This means that Montenegro looks set to become the 29th member of Nato.

Montenegro applied for Nato membership in 2008, and was invited to join the Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2009. The country has made good progress on its reforms over the last few years, and at the Wales Summit it was promised that there would be intensified and focused talks on its membership bid and that an assessment would be made by the end of 2015. Today's invitation to begin accession talks is the result of the assessment.

'I would like to congratulate Montenegro on this invitation. For many years, Norway has supported the countries of the Balkans in their defence and security sector reforms. I am pleased that Montenegro has reached a point where Nato membership is within reach,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

Accession talks are the final step before a candidate country is able to become a member of the Alliance. This happens once the Nato member countries have ratified the accession protocols, and usually takes place 12 to 18 months after the start of accession talks. Since Nato was founded in 1949, its membership has expanded from 12 to 28 countries.

'Montenegro's membership bid is an important reminder of just how important Euro-Atlantic integration has been for peace, welfare and democratic development in our region, and its membership of the Alliance will increase security in the Western Balkans. We expect Montenegro to continue its reforms unabated once it becomes a member of the Alliance, as we have in the past with other candidate countries,' said Mr Brende.