In a few days’ time, Montenegro will be officially welcomed to NATO as the 29th member of the alliance. The twenty‑eight NATO allies voted in favour of the country’s accession, and the Montenegrin parliament, too, has given its approval. At the special NATO meeting in Brussels, Montenegro’s Prime Minister Marković already had a seat at the table.
Under the CSCE Final Act, every country in Europe has the right to decide freely whether or not to belong to a security policy alliance. The North Atlantic Alliance has an “open door policy”, which means NATO is in principle open to admitting new members. Admittance is based on criteria set down in the Washington Treaty, under which NATO nations may, “by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of [the] Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to [the] Treaty”. Candidates also have to comply with certain political criteria, including a democratic political system, a market economy and the desire to resolve conflicts through peaceful means.
7 June 2017: accession ceremony
At the beginning of June, Montenegro will officially join NATO. Montenegro’s joining of NATO marks the culmination of a long process. After all, the country received the invitation from the NATO Foreign Ministers to enter into accession negotiations with the alliance on 2 December 2015.
Following the successful conclusion of the accession talks, the Protocol of Accession between Montenegro and NATO was signed in Brussels on 19 May 2016. Since then, Montenegro has enjoyed observer status in the alliance and has participated in almost all sessions but without the right to vote.
How the accession process works
The accession process required all NATO member states to ratify the Protocol of Accession and to deposit an instrument of ratification in Washington, where the Treaty was signed. Now, the processes of all 28 allies have been completed. In Germany, the law was made public on 10 March, and the German Embassy in Washington deposited the instrument of ratification on 3 May 2017.
On 28 April 2017, the Montenegrin Parliament likewise approved the country’s application to join NATO. Although the country’s accession will only formally come into effect when Montenegro’s instrument of ratification has been deposited in Washington, at the special NATO meeting on 25 May Prime Minister Marković already had a seat at the table in alphabetical order between Luxembourg and the Netherlands.