This is a historic day for Montenegro and an invitation to join NATO is the crown of long-standing state efforts and overall reforms launched in 2006, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said on Wednesday after earlier today NATO foreign ministers formally invited Montenegro to join this alliance.
Djukanovic said that today's invitation to Montenegro to join the Western military alliance represented a significant contribution to peace and stability in the Western Balkans.
"Montenegro is entering an exclusive bloc of countries that are a synonym for the best values of the contemporary civilisation," Djukanovic said at a reception given in Podgorica for the diplomatic corps, the Council for NATO membership and the Coordinating Team for the Implementation of the Communication Strategy, as well as for members of NGOs dealing with Euro-Atlantic integration processes.
Djukovic expressed satisfaction with the the alliance's appreciation of Montenegro's efforts. "We are grateful to member states and NATO administration for their assistance and support all these years. We must give special thanks to members of the diplomatic corps in Podgorica. This is our joint success," Djukovanovic said.
He also underscored that NATO membership was a matter of national interest, not only of this government but of the entire Montenegro and every Montenegrin citizen.
Defence Minister Milica Pejanovic Djurisic said the invitation to join NATO was no surprise, but an expected development of a long and demanding period in which Montenegro had shown determination, commitment and political maturity.
U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro Margaret Uyehara said the invitation confirmed that Montenegro had made great progress in many areas.
Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic said on Wednesday that the invitation to Montenegro to join NATO will give the country a strong impetus to join European associations.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the invitation to NATO was the confirmation of the alliance's "open door" policy.