The decision on Montenegro’s membership in NATO will be made by Montenegro and by the members of the alliance, says NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
Nobody else has no right to interfere in the decision, he told reporters in Belgrade after meeting with Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic.
“Montenegro is a sovereign and independent country and as such has the right to decide on its own path, including the security alliances it wants to be a part of,” said Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg added that foreign ministers of the 28 NATO member-states will meet on December 1 and 2 and decide whether Montenegro will be invited to join, adding, “no third country has the right to try to intervene in this process.”
Russia on Thursday urged Montenegro to reconsider its NATO bid, assessing that Montenegro’s membership would be “rash” and “seriously undermine the traditionally friendly relations” between the two countries, as well as to bring into question “the complete work on the formation of an pan-European security architecture.”
“Any interference of Russia could lead to the strengthening of the readiness to invite Montenegro to become a member of NATO,” said Stoltenberg.
Pointing out that it is the alliance’s basic principle to respect decisions of individual sovereign states, Stoltenberg said that NATO “respects a country’s wish not to join.”
“No country has been forced to become a member of NATO,” said Stoltenberg.
Vucic said that Serbia is “a sovereign and independent country that endangers nobody and has traditionally good relations with Russia, but is not a member of either NATO or CSTO (the Collective Security Treaty Organization).”
“Serbia has very good relations with NATO and wants to improve them, and we will work on it,” Vucic said.
KFOR to stay
KFOR will remain in Kosovo, it is a conditional operation and work is underway to ensure that a time comes when its presence is no longer needed, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday.
Stoltenberg said that NATO’s presence in Kosovo and Metohija is the organization’s longest mission and added that this also demonstrates a commitment to working towards providing safety and security to the whole region.
KFOR also has a role in that it is crucial to facilitating the dialogue that is underway in Brussels, he said.
“We support that dialogue,” Stoltenberg said.
Prime Minister Vucic said that KFOR has made a crucial contribution to protecting Serbian churches and monasteries, but also “represents the key of stability also in northern Kosovo and Metohija precisely because of the contract that was signed in Brussels.”