"Uncertain" if Montenegro will be invited to join NATO

(Beta, file)

"Uncertain" if Montenegro will be invited to join NATO

PODGORICA -- Montenegrin Foreign Minister Igor Lukšić says it is uncertain whether Montenegro will receive an invitation to join NATO, the Montenegrin government announced.

Lukšić is visiting the United States where he attended a conference dedicated to the anniversary of enlargements of NATO and the EU, which was attended by senior U.S. officials, including State Secretary John Kerry and Vice President Joseph Biden.

Lukšić told Voice of America that the signals from the U.S. were "encouraging," but stressed that the invitation will be "a matter of consensus between member-states."

Podgorica is a candidate for membership in NATO and expects to be invited to join during the western military alliance's summit in September.

The government has stepped up a diplomatic offensive in order to gain support for its aspirations. To this end, Prime Minister Milo Đukanović traveled to the U.S. in April, as did his ministers of justice and interior affairs, while at the end of the month ministers of foreign affairs and defense will follow suit.

According to Lukšić, "Montenegro is closer to getting an invitation for membership" after these trips.

He said that NATO countries should by the end of June assess the country's readiness to become a member, but noted that the crisis in Ukraine "certainly influences the timing of NATO's enlargement."

During the conference which Lukšić attended, Biden said that the door to NATO was "fundamentally open" and that the organization was "more relevant today than ever."

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