NATO and Montenegro officially launched two-day accession talks on Monday, two months after that country received an invitation to join the Alliance.
"The talks cover the details of membership including political, military and legal questions, and provide an opportunity for both sides to clarify outstanding issues," a NATO press release says.
"The holding of the Accession Talks today is a mark of the progress made by Montenegro since regaining its independence. NATO membership will reinforce Montenegro’s security and sovereignty, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Thrasyvoulos Stamatopoulos said.
NATO foreign ministers, at a meeting early December last year, invited Montenegro to become the 29th member of the Alliance.
Compared to the long and sometimes painstaking negotiations with the European Union, accession talks with NATO are usually a formality that lasts a few weeks.
Croatian Defence Minister Josip Buljevic last week said that he expected a protocol of Montenegro's accession to NATO to be signed in April. The next step will be for the Allies to ratify the Accession Protocol, which could take up more than a year. Buljevic said that the Croatian parliament would be among the first to ratify the Accession Protocol.
Buljevic added that Montenegro's membership in NATO can only benefit it in resolving contentious issues with Croatia which in his opinion are not that grave in any case.
The last NATO enlargement occurred in 2009 when Croatia and Albania joined the Alliance.