Montenegrin Minister Says NATO Sole Option

Montenegro's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Igor Luksic, said Montenegro had no option but to join NATO, if only for reasons of cost.

Maintaining military neutrality would involve building a defence system that would be more expensive for Montenegro than joining NATO, he said on Thursday.

"It would be more rational to invest such money in education, health or infrastructure [instead of defence]," Luksic said.

The minister added that NATO was also the guarantor of every kind of safety to a country and it was important for people to understand that it was the best option.

The minister stressed that by joining the alliance, Montenegro will not sacrifice its sovereignty because decisions in NATO are taken on the principle of one country one vote.

Montenegro joined NATO's Partnership for Peace programme, PfP, the first stage to joining the alliance, back in 2006.

It is currently conducting its fourth annual plan within the Membership Action Plan, MAP, which is regarded as a final step before joining the alliance.

Public support for NATO membership remains relatively low, however, and NATO officials have urged the overnment to try to increase levels of support.

The government has been reminded that NATO will not invite it to join the alliance of more than half of the population continues to oppose membership.

According to Luksic, current support for NATO membership is now around 43 per cent, which is about 5 per cent higher than it was last December.

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