Although ratification of the accession protocol remains stuck in the US Senate, Montenegrin leaders insist it is only a matter of time before it becomes a full member of the Western alliance.
The authorities in Podgorica say they are optimistic that the US Senate will soon give a green light to Montenegro’s membership of NATO – an issue which some US media claim could represent the first test of the new Washington administration’s relations with Russia.
Montenegro is keen to become the alliance’s 29th member but concerns have been raised that President Donald Trump’s Republican administration might want to slow the process or even stop it.
Amid concerns about the growing presence in the Balkans of Russia, which opposes NATO expansion, the accession protocol was not on the agenda of the three Senate sessions last week, although it was expected to be ratified at the first sitting after Donald Trump’s inauguration as President on January 20.
Another reason for concern is that no new date for a possible vote on Montenegro was set.
Russia’s allies in the opposition in Montenegro hope that Trump’s friendly attitude towards Moscow could mean that the ratification process remains blocked in the Senate.
Savo Kentera, chair of the Atlantic Council, a Montenegrin branch of the Washington-based think tank, believes US approval is just a matter of time, however, and said Montenegro’s membership in NATO is not in question.